UAE: Now, switch homes, avoid rent penalty before tenancy contract expires; here's how

According to UAE law, a tenant can terminate a tenancy contract with a 60-day notice to the landlord, but has to pay a penalty

by

Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Tue 9 Jul 2024, 6:06 PM

Last updated: Wed 10 Jul 2024, 1:45 PM

A new platform in the UAE is now allowing residents to 'switch' their homes for a more suitable one without having to worry about breaking their contracts. SweetcHome, which claims to be a personalised property matchmaking platform in the UAE, enables people to find homes of their choice and even exchange their houses with others before the end of their contracts.

One such tenant was Imen, who moved into her apartment in JBR last year. “I found that the traffic was too much and that I needed more space than I initially thought I would for my pets,” she said, speaking to Khaleej Times. “They are small but still, they needed a garden and space to run around.”


The property platform not only helped Imen find a new villa that suited her needs but also found a taker for her apartment as she still had three months left on the contract. “Finding a new place as well as a new tenant would have been very difficult to do on my own. The process was very smooth, and it was a win-win for everyone,” she said. "Now, my pets enjoy a nice garden in my villa in The Springs and I couldn't be happier."

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Currently, according to the laws of the UAE, a tenant has the right to terminate a tenancy contract with a 60-day notice to the landlord. However, they are required to pay a penalty equivalent to one or two months of rent. In many cases, landlords are willing to waive off the penalty if another tenant is available to take over the lease as soon as the previous one moves out.

Although anyone can avail of the service offered by SweetcHome, whether a switch can happen or not depends on the cooperation of the landlords and the ability to negotiate a deal suitable to all parties. However, according to Soufien Haddad, co-founder of the platform, he is yet to meet a landlord who has turned down the offer. “They are the winners since their property will not be empty and they will not lose revenue,” he said. “Sometimes they can make more revenue with the switch if the new tenant is willing to take the property at a higher price.”

Reducing the time

One person who was happy with a home switch deal was Imen’s landlord Patrick Narracott. Owning his apartment in JBR for more than five years, Patrick has had many tenants throughout his ownership. However, one thing that always worries him is when a tenant leaves.

“It is always a hassle to list the property, field calls, have viewings and then find a tenant,” he said. “When Imen told me that she wanted to move, I thought it was going to be a headache but she told me that she had already found someone else who wanted to move in.”

By finding someone else to move in as soon as she moved out, Imen was able to avoid the two-month rent penalty. Patrick negotiated a new contract with the incoming tenant to meet current market standards.

Although initially sceptical, Patrick was amazed by how quickly the entire process moved along. “It took only three weeks and two viewings to get my new tenant,” he said. “This is a process that usually takes three months.”

Personal experience

For Soufien, it was his personal experience that inspired him to think of the home switch concept.

“I used to live in a villa in Jumeirah which had a school right in front,” he said. “Every morning when I got out to drive my own kids to school, which was about 20 minutes away, I would have all these cars parked across my driveway. So I would think that for many of these families, our villa would be the perfect place for them and they probably lived in a house that is close to our children’s school.”

Co-founders of SweetcHome
Co-founders of SweetcHome

In 2023, he founded SweetcHome along with Amani Nahedh to simplify the real estate search. Expats for more than a decade, the duo had experienced the challenges of finding the ideal home near work and school with each relocation.

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