Tenant at fire-hit Sharjah tower may file case for rent refund
Know your legal rights in the UAE.
Question: I was renting a one-bedroom flat at a Sharjah tower that was damaged in a fire earlier this year. I had a yearly contract, so I paid my rent only once. Prior to the fire incident, I spent just five months at the building. I approached the real estate company that rented the apartment to me and requested a cancellation of the contract so I could get a refund for the remaining seven months of rent. However, the flat owner had simply refused to return my money even after the cancellation process had been completed.
He has been giving various excuses, refusing to refund the remaining rent, which amounted to Dh14,500. I would like to seek proper advice on the best government agency I can report this matter to so that legal steps can be taken against the real estate company and the flat owner.
As your rented apartment is situated in Sharjah, the provisions of the Sharjah Rental Law, as well as those of the Civil Transactions Law, are applicable.
It is the responsibility of the owner of the rented flat to maintain the unit, according to the Article 9 of the Sharjah Rental Law. Then, based on Article 8 of the same law, a tenant may terminate the contract if the rented premises are not maintained in a suitable condition. It states: "If the leased premises... are delivered to the tenant in an unsuitable condition or with great shortages, the tenant may request the committee to terminate the contract or request a rent decrease proportional to the decrease in such rights, depending on the circumstances."
Further, the owner shall be responsible for any defects in the apartment which have not occurred because of reasonable wear and tear. This is in accordance with Article 772 of the Civil Transactions Law.
Consequently, if the owner of the apartment does not address these defects in the unit, the tenant may cancel the contract or request for a reduction in rent, according to Article 773 of the Civil Transactions Law.
Therefore, based on these provisions, as a tenant, you are entitled to claim the advance rent amount you paid for the period during which you have not used the apartment.
As the owner is refusing to refund the balance of advance rent after the cancellation of the contract, you may approach the Sharjah Rental Dispute Committee (SRDC), which is located at the Sharjah Municipality, and file a complaint against the real estate company and the owner.
Know the law
A resident may cancel a tenancy contract or request a reduction in rent, if the flat owner fails to address 'defects' in 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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