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 property.
“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.”
From / Arabian Business News