Sharjah tenants call for fixed rent slab as landlords hike prices

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SharjahLandlords in Sharjah have started increasing rents, by as much as 15 per cent in some cases, for tenants whose three-year ‘no rent increase’ clause expires. A number of residents in the emirate are complaining of the high-handed attitude of landlords, hiking rents by what they claim is very high amounts.

Residents have called on Sharjah Municipality to set a slab for rent increases after the three-year clause expires. In response to a query on Twitter asking if there was a maximum limit for rent increase by a landlord, Sharjah Municipality said: “Actually, the rent increase after the three years period is made amicably between the landlord and tenant.
“In case of any dispute regarding the increase one can lodge a complaint at the rent dispute settlement committee of the municipality.” In April, Cluttons, a real estate consultancy, said average apartment rents in Sharjah rose by 10 to 15 per cent in the past six months and an another surge was expected in the coming six months.

However, these increases were applicable only to new lettings since the rental by-law of the emirate prohibits the landlord from raising rents for three years after signing the lease agreement and every two years thereafter.

Since rents have been climbing in Dubai and families relocating to the emirate leading to robust demand, landlords are asking existing tenants to pay the same rent who are coming for renewals.  RS, who stays in an apartment in Al Wadha Street, said: “My landlord has increased my rent by Dh7,000, which is almost 15 per cent more than earlier. Since I don’t wish to leave the apartment, I have agreed as it is still cheaper than other apartments in the neighborhood.”

Article 12 of the Tenancy Law, issued in June 2007, regulating the relations between tenants and landlords of both residential and commercial properties states that the landlord will have no right to ask the tenant to vacate the property before the expiry of a period of three years from the first signing of the contract unless the tenant is refusing to pay the rent.

Article 17 of the law also stipulates that the change of ownership of any property should not be a reason to change the tenancy contracts until the expiry of the legal periods.  Reports in local Arabic newspaper said that residents were seeking protection from the random rent hikes, asking the Municipality to define the maximum percentage increase that a landlord could implement.

Another issued raised by residents was that landlords were neglecting or not offering maintenance service and the cost and duty was passed on to the tenant. Residents demanded the concerned government departments to compel landlords of every building to clean the surroundings of their buildings of garbage and waste, and to impose fines on anyone who violates these systems.

Sharjah Municipality has already implemented stringent rules for attesting rental contracts and allowed only three people to stay in a studio apartment; four in one-bedroom; six in two-bedroom and nine in three-bedroom apartments.

A statement from the communications arm of the government of Sharjah in April last year said the government had issued a directive that bachelors residing collectively in families-only residential zones must vacate the premises as their presence poses a concern to families living in such areas.

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