Question: I stayed in an apartment in Dubai for seven years. After I vacated the place, my landlord deducted about 80 per cent of my deposit, citing maintenance costs. Is this legal? How do I contest it? What are the legal measures open to me?
Answer: Pursuant to your queries, as you had resided in a rented apartment located in the emirate of Dubai, the provisions of Law No. 26 of 2007 Regulating the Relationship Between Landlords and Tenants in the Emirate of Dubai are applicable.
In Dubai, a landlord should refund the security deposit at the time a tenant vacates a rented apartment. This is in accordance with Article 20 of the Dubai Rent Law, which states, “When entering into a rent contract, a landlord may collect from the tenant a security deposit for the purpose of maintenance of the real property upon the expiry of the rent contract. The landlord must refund this deposit or the balance thereof to the tenant upon expiry of the rent contract.”
However, a landlord may deduct part of all of the security deposit if the tenant has caused damage to the rented property, beyond reasonable wear and tear.
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Furthermore, it is an obligation of a tenant to hand over a rented apartment in good condition to a landlord while vacating it except for reasonable wear and tear and for reasons which are beyond the control of a tenant. This is in accordance with Article 21 of the Dubai Ren Law, which states, “Upon expiry of the term of the rent contract, the tenant must surrender possession of the real property to the landlord in the same condition in which the tenant received it at the time of entering into the rent contract, except for ordinary wear and tear or any damage sustained due to the reasons beyond the tenant’s control. Where a dispute between the parties arises in this regard, it shall be referred to the Tribunal (Dubai Rental Dispute Centre) to issue its decision on the same.”
Based on the aforementioned provisions of law, if you feel your landlord has deducted a certain portion of the security deposit amount without a valid reason, then you may consider filing a rental dispute case against your landlord at the Dubai Rental Dispute Centre (RDC). However, you may have to prove your claim before the RDC that you are entitled to a refund of the security deposit from your landlord by providing relevant evidence stating that you have handed over the rented apartment to the landlord in good condition.
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 protected] or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.