By Elizabeth Broomhall
Tenants who rent a room in a property may be breaking the law, warn lawyers
Tenants subletting rooms in Dubai risk eviction and legal action
if they fail to secure a letter of consent from the property owner agreeing to
the contract, lawyers have warned.
Residents who pay rent to housemates for a room or to a
landlord managing the property may be unknowingly subletting, and in breach of
Dubai laws, experts said.
“Most leases either prohibit subleasing entirely or state
that no subleasing will be permitted without prior written consent of the
[owner], and in most cases, a letter of consent… should be obtained,” said
Alexis Waller, a partner within Clyde & Co’s real estate division.
“Most individuals subleasing are unaware of the law on this
point. If taking a sublease, they should view the head lease and check that the
[original tenant] has the right to sublease.”
Subleasing is a popular, flexible renting option in Dubai
especially among expatriate workers.
In addition to putting the burden of utility bills onto the
lease holder, it avoids tenants needing to sign 12-month property contracts,
allowing them to move freely between emirates and jobs.
For landlords and owners, subletting can also be an
efficient way to fill rooms and apartments in an oversupplied property market.
But the situation can be difficult for tenants who are unaware
they are subletting illegally. They have no rights or protection if a home is
reclaimed and can be evicted by the owners in a matter of days.
“I have been renting my apartment for a year-and-a-half
under the impression that the owner knew we were renting from a man who acts as
our landlord,” said one expat, who leases a flat in JBR. “The owner came around
the other day and said we had to leave next month because he didn’t know the
property was being sub-let - he thought the landlord lived there.
“I never knew you needed a letter of consent, and now I have
to find somewhere else to live.”
Lawyers say renters should also think carefully as to
whether they are prepared to deal with someone who is not the owner of the
“If the subletting is of part, for example, a room in a
villa or apartment, where the original tenant also remains in the property, there
can be further problems,” said Nick Clayson, partner and head of real estate at
Norton Rose in Dubai.
“If the initial tenant leaves town, the other tenants will
not have any direct rights against the landlord unless permission to sublet was
contained in the initial lease. This can be further complicated if the initial
tenant leaves owing money to the landlord.”
Where one should report, if somebody is renting out one of the rooms illegally, without any agreement to individuals for monthly basis, for example, in Karama or Burjuman area?
Dubai Municipality, RERA, Dubai Police or any other body?