Explained: The process to follow in case roommates don’t pay rent
Dubai: If you have been living with roommates without a written agreement and tenancy contract in place, can you take legal action in case they don’t pay rent? A Gulf News reader wrote in, sharing his friend’s experience of trying to claim unpaid rent amount, with no success.
He said: “A friend of mine is facing an issue and needs some advice on how to collect his money. A couple had been living with him in a two-bedroom apartment, as a shared accommodation from September 2019 until December 2020. During this period, they only paid rent four times. My friend has been very considerate because they lost their jobs and have a child to feed, so kicking them out would be inhuman. No one would let them rent another apartment as they could not even afford to pay for water and electricity. However, in October 2020, they both got jobs and promised my friend that they would pay the rent, which never happened. He has a Whatsapp conversation supporting his claim, acknowledging that they owe him an amount of Dh21,400. He went to the police to seek help. They tried to call the person six times, but there was no answer. The police then advised my friend to go to court. Is there a court fee involved, if my friend wishes to escalate this? He primarily wants to sort this issue out quietly by at least getting a cheque from the couple. What is the best action to be taken for them to pay?”
Gulf News raised the query with Aditi Gandhi, a legal advisor based in Dubai, who spoke about all the options available to the reader’s friend.
“Normally, if there was no legal contract in place for subletting, the first viable option would be to negotiate and settle the dispute out of court and recover the outstanding rental amount. Filing legal proceedings in court involves court expenses and advocate fees and there is a possibility that the case could be challenged due to lack of a written agreement,” Gandhi said.
Normally, if there was no legal contract in place for subletting, the first viable option would be to negotiate and settle the dispute out of court and recover the outstanding rental amoun
– Aditi Gandhi, legal advisor based in Dubai
“Since the parties in this case are not willing to cooperate or pay the outstanding amount, the aggrieved party only have a legal recourse, which is to file a case before the court for recovery of the outstanding rental amount. They will be required to submit documentary and electronic proof, which provides evidence of the liability and the other party’s admission to pay the outstanding rental amount. In the case shared by the reader, Whatsapp messages would be an acceptable form of electronic evidence, provided it is proved that the messages are authentic and originate from the sender. This can then be argued before the court as an admission of debt and a promise to pay a certain amount,” she added.
When filing a case with the court of first instance, the court fees would be six per cent of the claim amount, with a maximum limit of Dh40,000, according to Gandhi.