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What if the tenant wants to leave and then changes their mind?
written by Asghar Shah
Jul 20, 2022

Imagine a scenario where a tenant wants to leave a property they have been renting. They decide to send an email to their landlord stating that when the contract expires, they will not be renewing. The landlord receives the email and sends one back accepting this.

Fast forward a few months and the end of the contract is in sight and the tenant changes their mind. This can happen for a number of reasons, the sale / purchase of a property they were going to move into fell through, or they couldn’t find another suitable place to rent, whatever the reason, the fact is they have promised the landlord they are moving, they have written and confirmed this in an email and now things have changed.

What does this mean for the landlord and the tenant?

This happens with surprising frequency and both landlords and tenants approach us to navigate this scenario. Can the landlord force them to move, based on the email as some binding contract that both parties agreed on – can the tenant refuse?

Courts view

Courts take a very narrow view of tenant / landlord relationships. Eviction of a tenant is governed by Article 25 of the Law Regulating Relationship between Landlords and Tenants in the Emirate of Dubai No. 26 of 2007.

Reasons for evictions are set out as follows:

  • Tenant fails to pay the rent within 30 days of being served with the landlord’s written notification
  • Tenant subleases the property without the landlord’s written approval
  • Tenant uses or allows others to use the property for immoral or illegal activities
  • Tenant causes or allows others to cause damage or changes to the property that endangers the safety of the property
  • Tenant uses the property for purposes other than what it was leased for
  • Tenant fails to comply with any of the terms of the tenancy contract or the law within 30 days of being served a written notification from the landlord
  • In cases of commercial properties, a landlord may demand eviction if the tenant has closed business operations for 30 consecutive or 90 non-consecutive days without giving any valid reasons
  • If the demolition of the property is required by the government entity for urban development of the emirate
  • The landlord wishes to reconstruct or demolish the property
  • The property requires significant maintenance or renovation that cannot be done while the tenant is occupying it
  • The landlord wants to sell the property
  • The landlord wants to use the property for his personal use or even for his relatives of the first degree.

Outside of breaches of this article, the tenant usually has the upper hand. So in this scenario, even though the tenant has stated they are leaving put this down in an email and then arbitrarily changed their minds, the courts will still generally favor the tenant and grant them the right to stay.

After all the landlord has not requested eviction!

The landlord then cannot rely on the tenant’s written word as a binding contract that the courts will uphold. Instead the courts will look to the landlord to give reasons for an eviction based on Article 25 (rather than contractually agreed leaving of the property). The landlord too will have to follow the notice process as well, giving a full 12 months’ notice in advance!

If you have a question to answer, let us know and we will try our best to guide you through your tenant landlord issues.