Rental Dispute: Legal Expert Clarifies Who Pays The Utility Bills

Rental Dispute: Legal Expert Clarifies Who Pays The Utility Bills

Renting a property in Dubai comes with several costs, e.g. chiller, internet, DEWA, Ejari, deposits, the rent itself, etc.

The idea of getting your place may seem attractive in theory, but when you set out and factor in all the expenses the reality of moving out becomes increasingly delusional.

Furthermore, as we’re bang in the middle of a global recession, it’s definitely a pinch to one’s pockets to be introduced to higher rents or utility costs.

A Dubai resident shared her concern regarding “chiller fees” and took to an online forum to question if her “landlord can increase the rent by 15%” and also make her “pay chiller fees?”

Here’s a breakdown of the dispute:

The tenant rented her apartment in 2021 with a contract stating that it’s ciller-free.

Her landlord wasn’t aware that the housing agent added this term in the tenancy contract (which was signed by the landlord).

Hence, her chiller fees wasn’t paid and her cooling got disconnected a year later due to unpaid fees.

The landlord then agreed to pay the chiller fees for 2021 but refused to pay the amount for the coming year and notified the tenant of the same less than the 90-days required for changes to the rental contract.

The landlord is now demanding a chiller fee on top of a 15% rent hike.

In her contract, it says “tenant will be responsible for utility bills”, and in the additional terms in the main tenancy contract, it says “building is chiller free”.

Emirati lawyer Omar Alheloo shed some light on this and clarified that “if the tenant and landlord disagree on changing certain provisions of the lease or tenancy agreement, the landlord cannot evict the tenant without an order from the Rental Disputes Centre”

Omar Alheloo, Partner at HADEF & Partners shared legal advice on this specific situation and said:

“In Dubai, the general practice in the market obliges the tenant to pay the utility bills, but in some tenancy contracts, the landlords bear the cost of such bills. The landlord cannot change this upon renewing the tenancy contract unless he/she notifies the tenant no less than (90) days before the expiry of the tenancy agreement. If the landlord does not do so, such provision cannot be changed, and he/she will continue to pay such bills.

In the above two scenarios, if the tenant and landlord disagree on changing certain provisions of the lease or tenancy agreement, the landlord cannot evict the tenant without an order from the Rental Disputes Centre.

Usually, the tenancy agreement contains a provision which states that if the tenant does not want to renew the tenancy agreement, he/she must notify the landlord before the expiry of the tenancy.”

These are the areas where the rental costs for apartments are on the rise: (from highest to lowest)

  1. Discovery Gardens
  2. Living Legends
  3. Jumeirah
  4. Downtown
  5. DIFC
  6. Arjaan
  7. Liwan
  8. The Greens
  9. Festival City
  10. Business Bay

And here are the areas where the cost of rental apartments has gone down

  1. Green Community (DIP)
  2. The Old Town
  3. Deira
  4. Damac Hills (Akoya)

Read more here.

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