Homefront: ‘I didn’t pay rent for three years after my landlord stopped contacting me’


My landlord and his rental agent went incommunicado for three years. He has now reached out to me to recover rent for the past three years.

I have been living in the property for six years. The first three years went smoothly, after which there was no communication from either the agent or the landlord.

There was no correspondence for contract renewal, notice to vacate or letters to pay the rent.

What is the maximum time legally permissible for a landlord to recover rent arrears from a tenant? SB, DubaiREAD MOREHomefront: ‘My landlord refuses to send his documents to register my lease with Ejari’Homefront: ‘I didn’t want to renew my lease but my request was ignored’Homefront: ‘Can I cancel my rental contract early without paying a penalty?’

While I have heard of similar situations, I have never heard of one that has continued for as long as you experienced. Three years is a long time for any party to a contract to stop communicating.

The first thing to point out is that technically, a contract automatically renews under the same terms and conditions as before if there is no communication to the contrary between the parties.

That said, it is very strange that there has been zero communication from your landlord and/or his agent during this time. In terms of legality, you do have a legitimate contract even if one of the parties was missing during long parts of it.

However, the debt remains. You cannot expect to live in a property free of rent even though this is what happened when the landlord was in absentia. Eventually, the rent will have to be paid back.

Now, it is up to the two of you to agree how this will be paid. It is not reasonable for your landlord to request all the outstanding money to be paid immediately.A contract automatically renews under the same terms and conditions as before if there is no communication to the contrary between the partiesMario Volpi, sales and leasing manager at Engel & Volkers

If you have the funds available, you can transfer the amount owed. I would suggest that you first arrange a face-to-face meeting with the landlord to finalise the payments.

My rental contract in Dubai is about to expire but I want to renew it. My landlord is also keen to renew but is asking for a rent increase.

This is only my second year of living in the property.

Article (9) in Law 26 of 2007 states: “The landlord and tenant must specify [the] rent value in the tenancy contract and should not increase such rent value or amend any tenancy contract conditions until the elapse of two years from [the] date of inception of the original tenancy relationship.”

Does this mean that the rent cannot be increased in the second year of tenancy? MR, Dubaihttps://www.podbean.com/player-v2/?from=embed&pbad=0&i=3wvft-104a8b4-pb&square=1&share=1&download=1&skin=f6f6f6&btn-skin=3267a3&size=300

You are referring to Law 26 of 2007, which governs the relationship between landlords and tenants. Law 33 of 2008 amended some parts of the former law.

This law states that increases in rent are permissible, as long as they are reflected in the Real Estate Regulatory Agency’s rental increase calculator.

In the past, landlords could not increase the rent until after the second year but this is not the case now.

It is important to remember that any changes to a rental contract have to be communicated in writing (email is fine, too) giving 90 days’ notice of the same.

Mario Volpi is the sales and leasing manager at Engel & Volkers. He has worked in the property sector for more than 35 years in London and Dubai. The opinions expressed do not constitute legal advice and are provided for information only. Please send any questions to mario.volpi@engelvoelkers.com

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