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Wrongful Evictions in Dubai

Wrongful Evictions in Dubai

22 August 2023

Tim Elliot:  Welcome to Lawgical, the U.A.E.’s first and only, regular legal podcast.  My name’s Tim Elliot.  I’m with Ludmila Yamalova.  She’s the Managing Partner of the Dubai-based legal firm, HPL Yamalova & Plewka.  Ludmila, it’s always great to see you.

Ludmila Yamalova:  Good to be here with you, Tim.

Tim Elliot:  This episode of Lawgical, a light Lawgical, a shorter version perhaps, but it’s all about wrongful eviction.  This is an interesting one to me.  I’ve been evicted as per the law.  I’ve just been given a year’s notice where I live, and I got the court eviction notice a few months ago.  I had just renewed my rent.  My landlord apparently wants to sell the house, so he’s within his rights.  This is not wrongful eviction.  And in Dubai, where we are right now, if a landlord wrongfully evicts a tenant, it is the law, is it not, that a tenant can claim compensation from a landlord?

Ludmila Yamalova:  Correct.  Just by way of recap and a reminder, in terms of tenancy laws, in the U.A.E. they are very much emirate based and emirate specific, which means that if we are talking about properties in Dubai, Dubai has its own rental laws.  Other emirates have their own rental laws.  What we are talking about today is the Dubai rental laws and the Dubai rental courts and jurisprudence.  As you rightfully pointed out, in Dubai evictions are subject to or conditioned upon very strict terms and have a pretty high burden of proof.

Among other things, what we are talking about is that for a landlord to evict a tenant, there have to be specific grounds for eviction.  We have covered this previously.  We have done a number of podcasts on this topic.  We will not go into the nitty gritty details, but for purposes of wrong eviction, today’s topic, what we want to focus on is those evictions where landlords evict their tenants on the representations of wanting to move into the property themselves.  That is one of the valid grounds for eviction.  You cannot just evict the tenant because the contract ended.  That’s not the case in Dubai.  Contracts here, lease contracts automatically renew on the same terms and conditions, except – and there are a few exceptions – one of the exceptions is you can be evicted at the end of your tenancy if the landlord wants to move into the property, as a residential or as a commercial property.  If the landlord wants to move in and take possession of the property for their own use, then they have to give you a one-year notice.  Then the notice obviously has to be given in a certain form.  This is important because – you mentioned that you were rightfully evicted because you received that proper notice through the U.A.E. notary or a Dubai notary.

Tim Elliot:  Yeah.

Ludmila Yamalova:  And that clearly states, we want you to move out a year from now, because it would be a one-year notice, and in your case, the landlord says that they want to sell.  By law, that is the correct process and therefore that will be a valid eviction notice.  However, there is still a caveat.  That notice is only effective and the reasons are only valid if they are true.  In other words, if the landlord truly actually wants to sell the property and ultimately sells the property, not only wants to sell, but ultimately sells the property.  Another example is maybe the landlord wants to move into the property, and so they evict you for personal use.

The law provides that in the event a tenant is evicted on one of those grounds, under the representation that either the landlord wants to sell the property or wants to move in themselves, and then they ultimately don’t either sell or move in, and instead rent it out to someone else, then the tenant can seek compensation against that landlord, fair compensation.  We will come back to how the compensation is calculated shortly.

This is important topic, especially now, because as we know, the Dubai property market is booming again, and it is very hot.  The prices are going up exponentially and quite rapidly.  What we are seeing is a trend amongst property owners who are evicting tenants on representation that either they want to sell the property, or they want to move in themselves.  Obviously, there are real examples, but I would still say perhaps in many ways there are more exceptions that the rule.  I think the majority of the evictions that we are seeing, that we are hearing about, while they follow the correct protocol, but they are done on false representation.  The representations are as per the law, but ultimately the landlord’s intentions are different.  They just want to evict the tenant so then they can rent it out for a lot more money and then after that they figure, yes, maybe the law provides compensation, but who is ever going to pursue us?  There is also that.

I have to tell you why we’re seeing an upswing in cases like this is because landlords believe that a lot of their properties have gone up 100% in value or 50% in value.  We just had a client now whose have businesses that are clinics, and the new owner of the property wants to evict them.  Actually first they said, we want to evict because we want to demolish the property or reconstruct, but then they said, no, we actually want to increase the rent by 40%, then they said they wanted to increase the rent by 80%.  That just gives you a flavor of why we are seeing such an upswing in cases because property owners believe that judging from the rest of the real estate market that their property values have gone up so much more, and that’s why they are very actively evicting.

Tim Elliot:  Actively, rightfully evicting or not.  Let’s take my example as the case for the purposes of this podcast.  I mean, in theory my landlord says I want to sell the house.  Therefore, I’m going to evict you.  Fine.  I’ve received legally the correct notice.  That’s fine.  Whether that’s true or not remains to be seen.  But is it worth it?  Me, I’ll move somewhere else, and then going to the Rent Committee, the Rent Disputes Committee, and making a case if it’s not true.  Is it really worth bothering?

Ludmila Yamalova:  It really depends.  It depends on the circumstances.  It depends on how much you have been prejudiced.  If you moved out and you moved out maybe to a property that costs about the same or costs a little bit more, but maybe it is a better property, then for some people it is a matter of principle, and they just want to do it as a matter of principle.  Now I always say, that is not necessarily a pragmatic decision.  It is more emotional.  I always advise my clients against acting on their emotions because it gets exciting at that point in time, but once you go through the process, you quickly run out of steam and then you regret your decisions.  I don’t think necessarily being emotional is necessarily the right decision.  That being said, some people feel very committed to the cause and they just feel wronged.  For them, it’s harder to sleep at night without basically trying to enforce their rights in court, even if their ultimate benefit is marginal.

Tim Elliot:  I mean, the thing is, I’ve had three months to think about this now.  I will have 12 months to think about it, and I will move.  But if I do then find that I’ve been evicted wrongfully, I will make a case.  I’m not emotional about it.  I think that timeframe, that 12-month timeframe, certainly allows you to simmer down a little bit, doesn’t it?  You’d look at it differently.

Ludmila Yamalova:  For sure.  But at the same time, when you are being uprooted and you have to move your whole family, it’s quite an exercise and it’s a burden.  It’s a burden.  It’s an expense.  It’s not just a financial burden.  It’s also an administrative challenge because if you have small kids and they go to school, perhaps you have a house that’s close to your school.  You may have selected that school because of the proximity to your house.  Now you’re being evicted, and in most cases, if you’re being evicted it’s because most likely the property values have gone up quite significantly in that area.  Therefore, for you to move out, you’d have to move to a different area and therefore, in many cases, farther away from the school.  Truly, it potentially has the effect of turning your whole life upside down.  The burden is really quite significant and this is why we have the laws drafted the way they are, exactly for that reason, because otherwise it can have the potential of creating quite significant chaos in society and in an industry and that’s not healthy for the economy.  That is why the law is drafted the way it is, and that is why these remedies are provided for in the law.

Now, would you want to do it?  Would you want to do this because you’re convinced that you’ve been wronged, that you want to pursue it?  It could be an emotional decision.  That is one decision.  The other decision is when you actually have to pay a lot more money to have similar accommodations or similar options.  The other reason is that you weren’t even able to find a similar option or alternative so you have had to downgrade, so you are really upset and maybe you are paying the same but you feel like you have been wronged because you are living a different lifestyle.  There are many reasons why you would want to do it.

Now, the reasons aside, of the deterrents in the past maybe would have been, and this is why owners would have acted the way they used to, is who is going to do it?  You have to go to court.  You have to hire lawyers.  You have to go to court, submit documents, stand in line, wait for these hearings, and so forth, which is how it used to be.  If you’re trying to get compensation of 20,000 to 30,000 dirhams, and in the meantime for you to do this case, you have to pay lawyers, you have to pay the court fees, you have to potentially use your own time to go to the different hearings.

Then you think, is it really worth it or should I just give up?  Now that consideration perhaps is no more for the most part because all of these cases can now be exclusively managed online.  Because the jurisdiction or the authority that oversees or enforces rental disputes or addresses rental disputes is RDC, the Rental Dispute Centre, which is the Rental Court, and the Rental Court/RDC that sits under the umbrella of the Dubai Land Department (DLD) and the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) is entirely online.  The whole process is online.  The proceedings are online.  You submit your complaint online.  You don’t ever have to leave home.  You don’t have to hire lawyers.  You can do it all on your own.  The only thing is that you do need to make a submission in Arabic, and whatever documents you submit, they also have to be translated into Arabic, but these days it is so much easier.  You just send it to any legal translator to have it translated, and there are translations centers and typing centers which will draft the document for you in Arabic.  You could use Google Translate because RDC, the Rental Dispute Centre, is specialized for rental cases.  Therefore, procedurally it is not as formal as other courts would be, as perhaps the main courts are.  Because it is informal, you truly case use just Google Translate.  The court just wants to see the substance.  It is substance over form.

You don’t need to leave the house.  You don’t need to hire a lawyer.  You can truly do everything on your own.  And the whole idea of the RDC as a specialized court is it is a lot more efficient and it moves a lot faster.  Therefore, these days the previous deterrent of – oh my gosh, the headache of having to litigate this and I’m not sure how it’s going to be interpreted or adjudicated at the end – is a thing of the past because now the law is very specific.  The law is very clear.  Now the law is fairly old.  It’s from 2007.  However, there has been a lot more jurisprudence that is enforcing and further reconfirming this law and it is quite robust.  That is why now people know the law is on their side, the jurisprudence is on their side, the access to justice, i.e., the RDC court system is a lot more accessible, and financially it is a lot more accessible, therefore, why not?  Now these days a lot more people actually would – not just would – but do actually file cases in these circumstances and they do monitor the landlords pretty closely and take them to court.  I was going to say, take them to task, but actually, take them to court.

In fact, why we wanted to talk about this topic today is (1) because this is what we are seeing and what is churning in the market right now.  There are so many eviction notices.  You are here, voila, a living example sitting in this room.  Also, (2) because we are seeing a lot more judgments, a lot more jurisprudence coming out of RDC reconfirming this principle and reapplying this principle over and over and over again.   It’s pretty clear that in the event your landlord re-rents your property after evicting you, it is called the wrongful eviction.

In the event they re-rent it, then you can seek compensation, and it’s called fair compensation.  Now, how do you define fair compensation is a question.  It depends on how you measure it.  One way of doing it is let’s say if you move out of your house now.  It’s a three-bedroom house and you move to a different three-bedroom house, and you now pay 30% to 40% more in rent.  By the way, by law for a residential property, the landlord cannot re-rent it for two years and for commercial properties for three years.  Basically, you could seek compensation for those two years.  Let’s say you used to pay 100,000 and now you are paying 130,000 dirhams.  You can request for these two years you are paying 30% more for each year, so 30,000 a year more, so you could claim 60,000, for example, in compensation.  That is one way to do it.

The other way, because remember, if a lot of people – they just cannot afford, they move because they cannot pay more than the 100,000, it’s not necessarily the case that they are going to move to a similar place and pay a higher price.  They may just actually downsize and therefore pay the same 100,000, so how do you measure in that case?  Then the way you could seek compensation then is you would use a comparable, not your own case, but look, I had to move into a two-bedroom versus a three-bedroom because if I were to move into a three-bedroom I would have paid so much more.  Then you take the depreciation value, if you will.  You are living in a two-bedroom and it should have been a three-bedroom, so basically, it’s ultimately the same amount you would probably come up with.  Although I’m paying the same amount, but if I had been renting a similar property, I would have been paying 30% more, for example.

Tim Elliot:  That’s a relatively easy comparison to make because there are so many of these cases and there have been historically a number of these cases, so comparisons and precedents are there.

Ludmila Yamalova:  For sure.  Absolutely.  On top of that, there are other examples, and also in the court we have seen them being enforced, for example, just the moving costs, that is also a cost.  You can add that too.  Sometimes people had to move into hotels.  So, you can actually also present your actual expenses that you had to pay as a result of this wrongful eviction.  For example, maybe you needed to move to a hotel for a while until you found and were able to move into a new property.  Maybe you had moving expenses.  Maybe you had to pay for a maintenance team.  Maybe you had to pay for the painting of your new place and some sort of updates to the place.  There are actual expenses that you’ve incurred as part of this move.  You can also present them to the court to argue that this is part of your damages and your losses because of this wrongful eviction.  In the courts the principles are very well settled.  They recite the same provisions from this law, which is Dubai Law #26 of 2007, which is regulating landlord/tenant relationships, and which was later amended in 2008 and it became Law #33.  These are basically the laws that RDC cites, in particular Article 25.  So, that principle is very well established.  There isn’t really much for debate.  It’s more about how you prove it.  You have to prove two things.  (1) One is that the landlord actually re-rented the property and (2) you have to quantify th extent of your damages or losses.

Tim Elliot:  Okay.  So, you can quantify the extent of your damages or losses.  How do you – what proof do you need to show that your landlord has re-rented a villa or an apartment?  Because any villa or apartment, or residential space, is legally required to be documented anyways, so surely the proof is already there?

Ludmila Yamalova:  Right.  This is another interesting angle.  One way to prove it is let’s say you know who the new tenants are, and you just ask them for a copy of the tenancy agreement.  That’s obviously not confidential because they are the ones who gave you this agreement and they are the party to this agreement, so they have a full right to give it to you.

Tim Elliot:  Okay.

Ludmila Yamalova:  That is one way of doing it.  The other way, because RDC sits under, what I said earlier, DLD and RERA and also the service that’s used to register all rental agreements called Ejari, basically there is also a relationship between DLD, RERA, RDC, and Ejari, so you could actually request the court/RDC to make a request to Ejari so that Ejari provides the current tenancy agreement for that particular property.  In other words, it’s a disclosure the court will request of a particular authority to please provide this document.  It’s another way of doing it, and that is a common way of requesting documents as part of the court case.

Tim Elliot:  Could you go ahead on that basis, if you feel like your landlord has wrongfully evicted you and you feel as though he has re-rented it, could you make a case based on the fact that you think that has happened and request for that Ejari, that rental confirmation?

Ludmila Yamalova:  Good question.  Yes, you can.  Obviously, you should be sure that there is a tenancy agreement because otherwise you will not be able to prove the main point.  But if you have a pretty strong feeling about it, yes, you could file the case.  Yes, I know that they are renting.  Because you may actually even have somehow a copy of the rental agreement, but you didn’t receive it necessarily in the most legitimate way, so you may not want to use it in the proceedings, but you know for a fact that it exists.  In that case, even if you have a copy of it, it may be more advisable to actually request RDC to request the document from Ejari so that you have proof of having it received it legitimately.

Tim Elliot:  Okay.  This is all good to know.  What else do we need to know about wrongful evictions?  Is there anything that we’ve missed?

Ludmila Yamalova:  Well, I just think, I’m just going to recap.  All tenants should be aware that the law is there.  The law is very well settled.  There is profound and prolific jurisprudence re-confirming the same principle.  The law is on the tenant’s side.  If they believe they are being kind of bullied or toyed with, certainly they should not be afraid to enforce their rights under the law.  There are ways of obtaining this information to prove your point, as we discussed.  Because of the accessibility of the judicial system and the ability to argue and present your case without having necessarily spend significant amounts on lawyers and court fees and translation, so much of this your can manager on your own, and it’s a worthy exercise that is very accessible to the majority of people.  By the way, most of the people, I mean, a lot of people are actually making these kinds of claims, and a lot of these claims are managed by tenants themselves without really much involvement from lawyers.  The courts are used to them, and these decisions are being issued in many cases just on the back of people representing themselves.  There is nothing to be afraid of.  Certainly, the law is on their side.  If you think it’s a significant enough or important enough for you, then don’t be afraid to try to stand up for yourself and argue your rights in court.

Tim Elliot:  That’s Lawgical, this time, wrongful evictions, specifically here in Dubai.  As always, thank you for watching, listening, or both.  Thanks to our legal expert, the Managing Partner here at Yamalova & Plewka, Ludmila Yamalova.  It’s always a learning experience with you, Ludmila.  Thank you.

Ludmila Yamalova:  Thank you, Tim.

Tim Elliot:  You can find us at LYLAW on social media, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, LinkedIn.  The podcasts that we produce are free at and on your favorite podcast platform.  If you’d like a legal question answered in an episode of Lawgical or if you want to talk to a qualified U.A.E. experienced legal professional, click Contact at

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