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Before you sign your tenancy contract, ensure you fully understand your rights and responsibilities as a tenant, as well as the regulations in Dubai. Equally, make sure it’s clear what obligations are those of your landlord. Failing to pick up on ambiguities or errors within your tenancy contract can potentially cause you headaches in the future. 

Here’s all you need to know about Dubai Tenancy Law to ensure you are well informed and adequately protected.

What are landlord and tenant rights?

When it comes to renting property in Dubai, the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) has set definitive laws to regulate the relationship between the landlord and the tenant, and clearly outlines the division of responsibilities in order to minimise disputes and misunderstandings.

Landlord’s rights

Tenant’s rights

For more insights please read this: 9 rules about renting a property in Dubai

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What is a Tenancy Contract?

Before receiving the keys to a property, you and the landlord enter into a rental agreement known as a tenancy contract. A tenancy contract essentially forms a legally binding agreement enabling you to benefit from the usage of the property for a specified purpose and period of time. It states all the terms of the lease, including both parties’ requirements and expectations, outlined as clauses in the agreement. Clearly outlining and defining all terms and conditions in the agreement serves to prevent disputes and misunderstandings between parties.

Also, check this check-list before signing a tenancy contract

Dubai Tenancy Law

The relationship between landlords and tenants in Dubai is regulated by the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) under the Dubai Rental Law No. 26 of 2007 (and amendments from Law No. 33 (2008). The law outlines the roles and responsibilities of landlords and tenants to prevent any potential disputes and misunderstandings. The Rent Disputes Settlement Centre (RDSC) established under Decree No. 26 of 2013 looks into and resolves all matters of rental disputes in Dubai, whilst Decree No. 43 of 2013 administers all rent increases.

Regulation of Tenancy Contracts in Dubai

RERA regulates the real estate sector in Dubai overall, as well as governs tenancy contract rules. A new system of tenancy contract has been developed under the Ejari system, and it is mandatory that all tenancy agreements are registered with the system.

What should be included in a Tenancy Contract?

A Tenancy Contract should include the following details:

Any special terms and conditions in addition to the standard Tenancy Contract terms are attached to the agreement in the form of an addendum which clearly outlines all individually agreed obligations of both parties.

Important clauses in Tenancy Contracts

Where to find a Tenancy Contract in Dubai?

You can download a standard tenancy contract from Ejari’s official website or from the DLD’s smart app. Again, for any additional terms and conditions over and above the standard terms, as agreed between the landlord and tenant, an addendum to the Ejari contract is required, which is typically drafted by the real estate agent.

The tenancy contract is written in both English and Arabic, according to local laws and customs on a Microsoft Word file and it is fully editable in every part. In fact, clauses can be edited, added and deleted based on the specific needs of tenants and landlords.

A standard Tenancy Contract is divided into the following 7 sections:

Who signs the Tenancy Contract?

A tenancy contract must be signed by both the landlord and the tenant, each in the presence of a witness. 

The DLD accepts the signature of the landlord’s legal representative through a Power of Attorney (POA), if necessary. However, a POA is valid for two years only and must be re-stamped by the Dubai Courts after this time. Property management companies licensed by the DLD are also permitted to sign contracts for the units they manage. You can locate the approved list of companies on the DLD’s official portal.

What documents are required for a Tenancy Contract?

To find out what documents are needed to prepare a Tenancy Contract, read: What are the documents needed to rent a property in Dubai

What happens when a Tenancy Contract expires?

When a tenancy contract expires but the tenant continues to occupy the property, the contract term is automatically extended for a similar period or for one year (whichever is less), with the same terms and conditions, as the previous agreement, unless otherwise agreed by both parties. 

Can I exit my Tenancy Contract early?

In the case of a tenant electing to vacate the property early, the landlord is not obligated by law to refund any rent unless an early termination clause is specifically included in the agreement. There is no standard law or governing principle on early termination of tenancy in Dubai. Instead, the tenant should request a clause be included in the contract outlining a notice period and penalty amount in the case of early termination.  

If you want to terminate your tenancy contract early, please read this: KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: What happens if you want to terminate your contract early?

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What is the notice period or penalty for early contract termination?

If the tenant is vacating the property early, they must provide 60 days notice to the landlord. Typically, the penalty is 1 to 2 months rent, payable to the landlord. However, again, RERA does not provide an Article for early contract termination, and as such, any penalty or refund of prepaid rent is dependent purely upon the landlords will and intention.

What if my landlord evicts me from the property prior to expiration of the Tenancy Contract?

Under Dubai Tenancy Law, a landlord may demand eviction of a tenant prior to expiry of the tenancy period in the following circumstances:

In all the above mentioned cases, the landlord must notify tenant with reasons of eviction at least ninety (90) days prior to the expiry date of the contract.If you feel your landlord has unreasonable grounds for eviction, you can lodge a formal complaint with The Rental Disputes Settlement Centre (RDSC), a body established specifically to resolve all conflicts between landlords and tenants in Dubai.

To understand more about solving rental disputes in Dubai, read: How to solve a rental dispute in Dubai

In case the tenant is vacating the property early, the landlord is not obligated to refund any rent to the tenant by law unless an early termination clause is specified in the agreement.

I don’t have a formal Tenancy Contract, what are my rights?

Under Dubai Tenancy Law (Article 4), it is mandatory to have the terms of a rental agreement in writing and registered with RERA. In the absence of a formal Tenancy Contract, both parties are not legally protected under RERA. As such, the Rent Dispute Settlement Committee (RDSC) and other relevant government entities are unable to consider or intervene in any matter of dispute that may arise from a rental relationship not registered with RERA, as it is not regarded as a legally binding contract.

What is a tenant and landlord relationship?

In tenant landlord relationship, the landlord retains the right of ownership of the property, and the tenant receives the right to use the property against the rental value he pays for the unit. The tenant is expected to look after the property, and the landlord is responsible for the maintenance, as outlined in the agreement. It is important that both parties maintain a good rapport as this develops mutual trust, and is particularly important should any issues ever arise. 

How does Tenancy Law affect landlords and tenants?

Tenancy Law creates transparency in the rental market. The unified tenancy contract system, Ejari, authenticates rental contracts and agreements between tenants and landlords. This system is in place to make sure all private rental contracts are drafted into legally binding documents and structured in the government-approved format. Tenancy law clearly defines the obligations and responsibilities for landlords and tenants, as well as provides for dispute resolution to protect the rights of each party.

Is a landlord allowed to enter a property when a tenant is not present?

No, the landlord is not permitted to enter a rental property without the tenant’s permission unless the tenancy contract has an access clause stated. Clear rules and regulations should be included in the tenancy contract regarding the viewing of property during the tenant’s occupancy. 

If the landlord wants to sell the property, he should seek the tenant’s consent to be able to show the premises to potential buyers. When the tenant permits viewings, the landlord must provide at least 24 hour’s notice, and must be present at the time of viewing. 

I have occupied the same property for years, do I have any special rights?

Legally, no, tenants don’t get to enjoy any exclusive rights or privileges simply for occupying a property for a long period of time. They receive the same rights and obligations as any other tenant.

What are your rights in case of a rent dispute?

Conflict can arise between landlord and tenant over unreasonable rent increase or an unreasonable reduction from the security deposit, amongst many others. 

Rent increases must fall within the parameters of the RERA Rental Increase Calculator. If you do not agree to the terms of the increase and cannot reach a mutual settlement with the landlord, you can raise a dispute with the RDSC. 

What does it cost to raise a rental dispute? 

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about RERA rental property laws

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