I recently vacated a one-bedroom rented apartment in Dubai after residing in it for four years. I had paid Dh4,000 to the landlord as security deposit at the time of renting the apartment. The landlord has informed me that he will only refund Dh2,500 security deposit. I had got the apartment painted at my own cost during the period of my stay there. The landlord is contending that there is some difference in paint colour and does not match the colour at the time the apartment was rented to me. The deductions from security deposit also include drilling on walls for hanging paintings, clocks and hangers. Is this justified? How can I challenge it?
Pursuant to your queries, we assume that you had not taken prior approval of the landlord to paint the walls and to change the colour on the walls of the apartment. The tenant has to take necessary prior approvals from the landlord if he has to carry out any decoration or painting work within the premises. This is in accordance with Article 19 of Law No. 26 of 2007 regulating the relationship between landlord and tenants in the emirate of Dubai (the ‘Dubai Rental Law’), which states, “The tenant must pay the rent on due dates and maintain the real property in such a manner as an ordinary person would maintain his own. Without prejudice to the tenant’s obligation to carry out the restorations that have been agreed upon or which are customary for tenants to undertake the tenant may not make any changes or carry out any restoration or maintenance works to the real property unless so permitted by the landlord and after obtaining required licences from the competent official entities.”
Further, drilling of holes on the wall may not be treated as reasonable wear and tear and considered as structural damages even if they look like minor changes. If you had undertaken to paint the wall and drill minor holes on the wall of the rented apartment based on the written consent of the landlord, you are now entitled to claim the security deposit from the landlord while vacating the premises in accordance with Article 20 of the Dubai Rental Law. It states, “When entering into a lease contract, the landlord may obtain from the tenant a security deposit to ensure maintenance of the real property upon the expiry of the contract, provided that the landlord undertakes to refund such deposit or remainder thereof to the tenant (when the contract ends).”
The tenant has to hand over the rented apartment to the landlord in the same condition as it was when its possession was taken. This is in accordance with Article 21 of the Dubai Rental Law, which states, “Upon the expiry of the term of the lease contract, the tenant must surrender possession of the real property to the landlord in the same condition in which it was received at the time of entering into the agreement, except for ordinary wear and tear or damage due to reasons beyond tenant’s control. In the event of dispute between the two parties, the matter must be referred to the tribunal to issue an award in this regard.”
However, based on the aforementioned scenarios, the interpretations related to reasonable wear and tear and structural changes may vary from case to case. The interpretation of the same is as per the perception and understanding of an individual. Therefore, you may approach Dubai Rental Dispute Centre in Dubai to seek further advise on the refund of security deposit.
Know the law
Upon the expiry of the term of the lease contract, the tenant must surrender possession of the real property to the landlord in the same condition in which it was received at the time of entering into the agreement, except for ordinary wear and tear or damage due to reasons beyond control.