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In Dubai tenants can end contract early without issue
The loss of a job or reduction of income may mean residents could move during a 12 month lease without losing two or three months’ rent.
Judge Abdulqader Musa, director of the Rental Disputes Centre, said he was aware of the hardship some people had found themselves in due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
Tenants in disputes with their landlords can claim ‘force majeure’ as a legal defence to end a contract without penalty. The phrase relates to unexpected, external circumstances that do not allow a person to meet their obligations.
“During these exceptional times, tenants are indeed able to request for early termination of a contract with a landlord due to force majeure, whereby they would not have any viable alternative,” Judge Musa told The National.
“Such circumstances are being handled on a case-by-case scenario by the RDC to, among others, confirm the integrity of the termination and validate the tenant’s reasons for doing so.”
The centre, which is the judicial arm of the Dubai Land Department, said it has settled several cases in favour of tenants recently.
The judge called for compassion from property owners, who are typically able to charge two months’ rent if a tenant leaves early. In the UAE, most residential contracts are paid a year in advance, using pre-written cheques that are cashed over 12 months.
“During such unprecedented times, it is the responsibility of all respective parties to adhere to co-operate and support one another, taking account their circumstances and being prepared to waive some of their rights until this exceptional global crisis subsides,” Judge Musa said.
A total of 563 disputes were filed between January and the end of May, with 278 settled to date.
“We have continuously supported tenants through their challenges, especially during such trying times,” Judge Musa said.
In a case reported by The National last week, a small business owner took the landlord of his commercial premises in Al Sufouh, near Dubai Marina, to the dispute centre.
The tenant, who ran a company that cares for elderly residents in their own homes, said his firm could not pay due to the disruption caused by the outbreak.
Dubai’s Rent Dispute Centre urged tenants and landlords to work together to get through disagreements.