Q-My husband and I were living in an apartment in Dubai for over 16 years. Our deposit of Dh1,000 is with the landlord. In April this year, I submitted paperwork to the landlord regarding loss of employment of my husband and myself, requesting for rent reduction. We told him that we will be vacating in July. He did not reduce the rent and told us very clearly that we do not need to give a formal three months' notice to vacate the apartment. We vacated the apartment in July and did not have a single missed rent installment. Now I have been emailing him for the refund of deposit, he said that we did not give three months' notice, so we will not get the deposit back. I reminded him of the waiver of the notice, but he is not replying to my emails. What can I do to get my deposit back?
It should be noted that whenever a tenant notifies the landlord about his intent to make amendments in the tenancy contract or to serve a notice of vacating the rented premises, it is recommended that he submits his requests or notice in writing. Even though the tenant is not renewing his tenancy contract, it is his responsibility to serve 90 days of notice period to the landlord of his intention to vacate the rented premises. This is in accordance with Article 14 of the Amended Dubai Rental Law, which states: "Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, if either party to the tenancy contract wishes to amend any of its terms in accordance with Article 13 of this law, that party must notify the other party of the same no less than 90 days prior to the date on which the tenancy contract expires."
Further, Article 7 of the Dubai Rental Law, states that: "Where a lease contract is valid, it may not be unilaterally terminated during its term by the landlord or the tenant. It can only be terminated by mutual consent or in accordance with the provisions of this law."
Based on the aforementioned provisions of law, you had notified your previous landlord verbally three months in advance regarding your intention to vacate the rented apartment and the same was mutually agreed by you and your previous landlord. Your previous landlord mentioned to you that there was no requirement of any formal notice of three months to be served by you, in writing.
Further, as a tenant it is your right to receive the security deposit from your previous landlord while you had vacated the rented apartment. This is in accordance with Article 20 of the Dubai Rental Law, which states: "When entering into a lease contract, the landlord may obtain from the tenant a security deposit to ensure maintenance of the real property upon the expiry of the lease contract, provided that the landlord undertakes to refund such deposit or remainder thereof to the tenant upon the expiry of the lease contract."
However, your previous landlord currently denies that you had served three months' notice related to vacating the rented apartment. Based on this, the onus is on you as the claimant to prove that the three months' notice has been served to your previous landlord to vacate the rented apartment. This is in accordance with Article 117 of the Civil Transactions Law, which states: "Burden of proof is on the claimant and oath on the denying."
Therefore, even though you are entitled to receive the security deposit from your previous landlord in accordance to Article 20 of the Dubai Rental Law, your previous landlord may be taking advantage of the matter that you had not served three months' notice in writing related to vacating the rented apartment. Based on this, your claim of demanding return of security deposit from your previous landlord may be weak as you may have no sufficient evidence to prove that you had served three months' notice. It is recommended that you approach him in person and settle the matter amicably.
Know the law
When entering into a lease contract, the landlord may obtain from the tenant a security deposit to ensure maintenance of the real property upon the expiry of the lease contract, provided that the landlord undertakes to refund such deposit or remainder thereof to the tenant upon the expiry of the lease contract.
Ashish Mehta is the founder and Managing Partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practise law in Dubai, the United Kingdom and India. Full details of his firm on: www.amalawyers.com. Readers may e-mail their questions to: email@example.com or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.
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