What Has Been Done To Protect Tenants During The Covid-19 Restrictions?
The year 2020 is unique not only by its pretty number sequence. It’s made history as the fiercest pandemic of the century, the Covid-19 pandemic. This pandemic affected every side of our life with rental business and tenancy relationships as no exception.
Typically, during such a difficult time, the tenant became the most vulnerable part of these relationships. Fortunately, the Government of Dubai wisely took urgent measures to protect tenants and help them survive the pandemic times. This starts from rent reduction and penalty waivers and goes to a moratorium on eviction and regulation house shifts during a lockdown.
What should Dubai tenants do to get rent reductions or penalty waivers?
First, let’s make it clear rent reductions and penalty waivers are measures to be taken only under exceptional circumstances. Such as significant salary cut or job dismissal due to the Covid-19 impact. So, it is not about tenant’s personal wishes to pay less or not pay at all. It is only about relieving an extensive burden from the tenant’s shoulders so that he can survive this painful time.
What rent reductions or penalty waivers are?
Rent reduction stands for the landlord’s willingness to allow his tenant to occupy his property for less cost. In general, the common practice in Dubai is to calculate rent as annuity payment, yearly rent. Therefore, rent reduction may go in form of temporarily lower monthly payment for a specified period. Or it may go in form of a few-month rental holiday. To clarify, a rental holiday means a grace period when his tenant can benefit from his property without any payments. Both incentives reduce the amount of yearly rent the tenant must pay.
Penalty waivers typically stand for the landlord’s acceptance of early lease termination initiated by his tenant without any charges. To clarify, a common practice is to charge two-month rent as a penalty for tenancy contract termination prior to the expiring date. Hence, if penalty waivers are applied, the tenant can terminate his lease without any compensation payments to the landlord.
To get rent reductions or penalty waivers, the tenant should apply to his landlord and open a dialog first. It is strictly recommended to provide convincing evidence of your plight. For example, it can be a labor contract termination copy or documents that prove the salary cut.
Most landlords are more than willing to meet their tenant halfway in their rend reduction journey rather than facing the empty rental unit. However, penalty waivers are a more serious challenge for landlords to overcome. That is to say, some of them take a too impersonal business approach and refuse to be generous in early lease termination cases. Perhaps, this is because they know they inevitably lose their tenant and income.
Then, if your landlord is deaf to your arguments and insists on charging rent specified in your tenancy agreement or lease termination penalty, you should apply to the Rental Dispute Center. There, you should file a case against your landlord where you describe your disagreement. And, of course, provide the documents that prove your claim to be reasonable.
As the hearings of the last half a year show, you have all the chances the RDC to satisfy the reasonable claim regarding rent reduction or penalty waivers.
Can You Be Evicted from Your Home?
If we were writing this article somewhat in the first two months of this year, the answer would be ‘yes in certain cases’. The matter is, according to the local tenancy legislation, the landlord can, in specified cases, evict his tenants prior to tenancy contract expiring. And the most common case here is rent nonpayment. So, typically, if you don’t pay your rent for over 30 days since receiving your landlord written notification, your landlord has the legal rights to evict you. In fact, your home is still your landlord’s property.
However, this year, with its unprecedented pandemic vulnerability, proved the possibility of unprecedented measures. For example, in March and April, when the impact of Coronavirus was the fiercest, the Government of Dubai suspended eviction. To clarify, even if the tenant failed to pay his rent, the RDC still wouldn’t allow the landlord to evict him.
Thus, taking into account these events, we slightly alter our answer to the question. Now, the answer is ‘yes in certain cases but no under some exceptional circumstances’. Of course, as the worst of the pandemic is in the past, with its mass job losses, unpaid leaves, and significant salary cuts, the protection from eviction is on a case-by-case basis. But you should be aware it is possible as well.
So, if you still suffer from job loss, unpaid leaves, or significant salary cut. If this poses rent payment issues that may cause your landlord to initiate an eviction case against you, contact our property dispute lawyers to discuss your exact situation and know your options.
Is it possible to move to another house during the restrictive measures?
Of course, as the world society learned how to adapt their routine to the new circumstances, the restriction got eased. Nevertheless, the question about the possibility of shifting homes during other restriction measures may be still on your mind. And this is an especially right thing to be prepared for the worst while hoping for the best.
So, did you know that even while the strict sanitizing measures were introduced, people still could move to another house? However, there were certain nuances. To clarify, before, tenants only needed to get move-in permission from the community where they were going to move to. (Though, in many cases, they also needed move-out permission from the community they resided at that moment.)
During the street-moving restriction, tenants needed to obtain a movement permit from the police station as well. This permit authorized the right to appear on streets. It could be easily downloaded from the police website after submitting the movement permit application. Yes, so simple and easy! Indeed, this is another awesome proof of how well everything is thought out in Dubai!
But even now we urgently recommend using only the services of licensed moving firms. This way you can be sure all sanitizing measures are taken as it should be. After all, you still experience a great threat from this horrible virus and still need to execute self-awareness and ensure extra protection for the health of you and your family.
At BSO, we consult our tenants about the options they have to cover their needs. Besides, we guarantee fair terms and conditions of the lease regarding the units we manage. Thus, apply for renting one of our listings to be sure your rights and your landlord rights are well-balanced, so that little to no disagreements will happen.