Question: I have seen an apartment in Dubai that I really like. However, the real estate agent says I cannot drill any holes on its walls. I tried arguing that I would need to drill some holes to install the curtain or hang clocks and other items. However, he is not budging and says that I will have to pay for any damages if I do it. Can the company stipulate such a condition?
Response: Pursuant to your queries, it is assumed that you have not yet signed the tenancy contract yet. It is further assumed that the real estate agent is the authorised representative of the landlord for all rent-related matters of the said building. Therefore, the provisions of Law No.26 of 2007 Regulating the Relationship Between Landlords and Tenants in the Emirate of Dubai (the ‘Dubai Tenancy Law’) are applicable.
In Dubai, a tenant needs to maintain the rented apartment in good condition. This is in accordance with Article 19 of the Dubai Tenancy Law, which states: “A Tenant must pay the Rent on its due dates and must maintain the Real Property in a good condition as a reasonable person would maintain his own property. Without prejudice to the Tenant's obligation to carry out any restoration that is agreed upon or which is customary for Tenants to undertake, the Tenant may not make any changes or carry out any restoration or maintenance works in the Real Property without obtaining the permission of the Landlord and the necessary licenses from the competent official entities."
Further, at the time of vacating an apartment, the tenant should hand it over to the real estate agent in same condition he/she received it, except for reasonable wear and tear. This is in accordance with Article 21 of the Dubai Tenancy Law, which states: “Upon expiry of the term of a lease 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 lease contract, except for ordinary wear and tear or any damage sustained due to reasons beyond the tenant's control. Where a dispute between the parties arises in this regard, it shall be referred to the tribunal to issue its decision on the same.”
In your case, as a tenant, drilling holes on walls may be necessary to hang household décor or curtains and you may consider it as reasonable wear and tear. However, the real estate agent may consider drilling on walls damage to the structure of the building. Therefore, as the real estate agent has already informed you that they do not allow drilling of holes, you may have to follow this condition. It is at the discretion of the real estate agent to rent the apartment at its own conditions related to its structural changes or use, provided such conditions do not contradict the applicable laws of Dubai.
Generally, if the tenancy contract does not impose any restrictions on drilling holes in the walls, the tenant may do so. He/she may then repair the holes while vacating the apartment.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.
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