November 5, 2018

Landlord and tenant disputes in Abu Dhabi now capable of being resolved faster

On 27 September 2018, the Chairman of the Judicial Department in Abu Dhabi issued Resolution No. 25 of 2018 regarding the Lease Dispute Resolution Committees and the Procedures Adopted before it (the New Resolution).

The New Resolution came into force on 11 October 2018 and repealed Resolution No.9 of 2010 regarding the Lease Dispute Resolution Committees and the Procedures Adopted before it.

In order for the New Resolution to be applicable, the lease in question must be registered with the Abu Dhabi Municipality.

The New Resolution allows the Lease Disputes Resolution Committees (the Committees) to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants on an urgent and expedited basis thereby, in theory, reducing the amount of time it takes to resolve such disputes, which historically took around three to six months.

To expedite resolution of disputes, the Committees can:

  • Appoint an Expert where necessary to provide an opinion verbally during a hearing without the requirement to submit a report. The Expert's opinion will be recorded in the Minutes of any hearing;
  • Hold hearings in the evenings where necessary;
  • Provide approval to complete service of proceedings by a landlord by leaving the summons at the property if the tenant refuses to accept service. No investigation into service is required but the tenant needs to be occupying the property. If that property is vacant the usual service procedures apply; and
  • Consider disputes in the absence of the other party.

Further and more importantly, by virtue of the New Resolution, registered leases are treated as writs of execution and can themselves be used for direct enforcement for claims of arrears and eviction following notice being served on the tenant. However, it should be noted, that landlords can only claim for amounts owed by tenants pursuant to the terms of the registered lease and any claims for amounts that may be owed outside the terms of the registered lease (i.e. agreed in a separate agreement) cannot be claimed as part of this process.

As the New Resolution is in its infancy, it remains to be seen whether its objective to quickly resolve disputes between landlords and tenants is in fact achieved. We also note that this New Resolution does not apply in Dubai and there is currently no equivalent Dubai Resolution.