Tenancy and rent laws in Dubai
This page is about tenancy laws for accommodation in Dubai. See also the Dubai rent cap page. For information about ownership laws see the Property ownership laws in Dubai page.
Tenancy and rental laws in Dubai for commercial buildings and residential apartments and villas in Deira, Bur Dubai, and freehold areas. For resident Emiratis, expats, foreigners, locals.
Procedure for settling rent and tenancy disputes in Dubai
Nothing on this page is proper legal advice. It is information or opinions only, and might be incorrect. Do your own due diligence. Remember that anything you write, especially if you sign it but not exclusively, might end up in court as evidence to be used against you. If you are rude, disrespectful, swear, make threats, etc in any communication, that might be grounds for a criminal case to be brought against you, which could trump any dispute you have with your landlord regarding your tenancy contract. You can't dispute much from jail or if you are deported.
Rental amount disputes
Many landlords in Dubai will try to increase your rent at renewal time, even if no increase is permitted due to the rent cap. Many tenants will simply accept this, either because they are told by the landlord (and believe what they are told) that an increase is permitted or cannot be disputed, or they think it's not worth the hassle of disputing anything. If you do that, remember you are poisoning the well for you and every other tenant in Dubai, and all those landlords who do follow the law. Fair enough if you don't want to make a case with the RDC which is an expensive and time-consuming procedure, but there are other much easier options available to you.
- For rent disputes first check the RERA rent increase calculator to confirm if an increase is permitted or not, and how much increase if it is allowed.
- If you have been notified of a pending increase, either reply in writing quoting the RERA rent increase calculator result, or try to have a conversation with the landlord or his agent. Say you are willing to renew the contract with the rent as permitted by RERA.
- If your landlord doesn't acknowledge your reply or disputes it, or worse (tries to argue with you or threatens you for example), don't communicate with him any further. Contact RERA (by phone is better than visiting for general enquiries in our experience), and/or property lawyers (you can usually get a free opinion by phone) to help you feel more confident you are in the right.
- Go to RERA and deposit your rent checks with them, for the correct amount according to the rent calculator. This costs you nothing (or a minimal fee), and keeps you in the clear regarding non-payment of rent. The landlord must then collect the checks from RERA himself, and cannot make a case against you for not paying rent. Make sure you do this before your rent payment due date, and keep the receipt. You can notify your landlord and/or send him a copy of the receipt. This is something you can do in the case of any tenancy dispute with the landlord, and should prevent any initiation of eviction action against you by the landlord for not paying rent.
- Alternatively file a case with the Rent Dispute Center (RDC) but that will cost you 3.5% of your annual rent, plus legal transalations of any documents not in Arabic, plus AED 200 for typing services to complete the form required to file a case.
- If the dispute ends up at the Rent Dispute Center (RDC), a decision will almost always be made based on what the rent calculator says. Occasional exceptions are made but mostly the RDC sides with the tenant, if the calculator result backs up the tenants case. When exceptions are made, it is not clear if they are due to wasta or some other reason.
Laws and decrees governing tenancy contracts and agreements in Dubai
Relevant new and updated laws for rental property in Dubai include Decree No. 43 of 2013, Law No. 33 of 2008, and Law No. 26 of 2007 (not No. 27 which concerns joint ownership of properties in Dubai).
New Decree No. 43 of 2013 summary of changes from Law No. 33 of 2008 and Law No. 26 of 2007.
- [Issued 18 Dec 2013, effective from date of issue] Decree No. 43 of 2013. Refers to rent cap and increases in Dubai, and specifically states the the decree applies to free zones in Dubai including DIFC. Previously those areas were excluded, or it was a grey area. DIFC issued its own rent laws for example, including DIFC Law No. 4 of 2007 which said "Dubai real property laws do not apply to real property governed by this Law", referring to the DIFC law. Watch out for publications, blogs, etc which have not updated their information about DIFC areas.
- Note that Decree 43 only said the decree applies to DIFC and other free zones, it did not specifically say that all Dubai rent laws applied in those areas.
- The decree only refers to the rent cap and permitted rent increases in Dubai as now applying to DIFC and other free zones in Dubai. It does not specifically state that all other rent laws also now apply in DIFC.
New Law No. 33 of 2008, summary of changes from Law No. 26 of 2007.
- [Issued 01 Dec 2008, effective from date of publication in the Gazette] Law No. 33 of 2008, "Amending some provisions of Law No. 26 of 2007 ...". Articles (2), (3), (4), (9), (13), (14), (15), (25), (26), (29), (36) were modified or replaced.
- (2) (Definitions): Property> Real Estate.
- (3) (Applicable to): open and agricultural lands > leased lands; hotels added to exclusions. Note that free accommodation provided to employees is excluded from rent law.
- (4) (Tenancy contract): Details added, claims not to be considered unless contract registered with RERA.
- (9) (Rent value): No increase for 2 years clause removed. Clauses saying saying rent to be agreed by landlord and tenant, or settled by relevant authority in cases of dispute. Inclusion of text relevant to permitted rent increase percentage set by RERA.
- (13) (Rent value): Changed to say either party can amend contract on expiry, and relevant authority can decide rent amount in cases of dispute or disagreement. Previously clauses additional to (9) regarding agreement of rent amount.
- (14) (Rent value): Removal of text "opts not to renew the tenancy contract or ". Remainder is 90 day notice period requirement if either tenant or landlord wants to amend contract.
- (15) (Landlord obligations): Section added for lease of uncompleted properties.
- (25.1) (Eviction):
- Clause added at end that for eviction "... the landlord must notify the tenant through the Notary Public or by registered mail."
- (a) Unpaid rent: unless parties agree otherwise clause added.
- (d) Unoccupied commercial shop clause added: 30 days continuous or 90 days non-continuous.
- (i) (was item (a) in Article 25.2) If new developments in Dubai require demolition of existing property.
- (25.2) (Eviction):
- Notice of eviction changed from 90 days to 12 months, must be by "Notary Public or by registered mail".
- (a) Same as item (c) in Law No. 26 of 2007. Previous item (a) moved to 25.1 as item (i).
- (b) Text added: "... or accredited by it" referring to the Dubai Municipality for the technical report requirement.
- (c) Was item (d) about landlord wanting property for himself or family, text added "... provided that he proves that he does not own a suitable alternative property for that purpose."
- (d) New: "If the owner of the property wishes to sell the leased property."
- (26): Wait period before landlord can rent property again after he or family use it, if tenant was evicted, changed from one to two years (or three years for non-residential). But relevant authority can decide on a shorter period.
- (29): Reference to Article (13) changed to Article (9) (since parts of 13 moved to 9).
- (36): Change in who issues the rules, from rental authority (RERA) to the Executive Council Chairman.
Law No. 26 of 2007
- [Issued 26 Nov 2007, effective 60 days after publication in the Gazette] Law No. 26 of 2007, "Regulation relationship between landlords and tenants in the emirate of Dubai".
Previous laws in Dubai and UAE regarding tenancy contracts
- Law No. 16 of 2007, establishing the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA).
- Decree No. 2 of 1993, establishing the Special Judicial Committee to settle disputes between landlords and tenants.
- Federal Law No. 10 of 1992, Promulgating Law of Evidence in Civil and Commercial Transactions.
- Federal Law No. 5 of 1985, regarding Civil Transactions, and its amendments.
Dubai rent increase laws 2013-2014, new rent cap
See the DIFC rent cap page.
- www.dubailand.gov.ae for PDF downloads of relevant rent law and legislation. Several other websites have them but check they are the official versions.
Last update Sunday 09-Aug-2015