Perhaps you are planning to relocate, or thinking about moving to another apartment in Dubai. Either way, this means that your tenancy contact will be ending soon, which also entitles you to receive a security deposit refund from your landlord.
Getting a full security deposit refund, however, is not that easy. Depending on your contract, the landlord may find reasons to make deductions from your deposit. In any case, we’ve decided to share some tips to ensure a win-win situation for both you and your landlord.
Guide to Getting a House Security Deposit Refund
Before signing your tenancy contract, you should be familiar with local laws on renting properties in the first place. In particular, take note this provision as stated in Article 20 of Law No. 26 of 2007, which is also known as the Dubai Rental Law:
“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 lease contract, provided that the landlord undertakes to refund such deposit or remainder thereof to the tenant upon the expiry of the lease contract.”
In other words, the Dubai Rental Law states that landlords may ask for a security deposit from the tenant at the beginning of the contract — to account for any “wear and tear” or damage that may be caused to the property. When the contract ends, the landlord must give a full or partial refund to the tenant.
While the law clearly states the purpose of the security deposit, it does not mention specific details, such as what can be classified as “wear and tear” of property, as well as how much the different levels of “damage” actually cost. Hence, getting a full refund may be difficult, as the amount of deduction is wholly at the discretion of the landlord.
Nevertheless, getting a full security deposit refund (or most of it, at least) from your landlord is possible if you keep in mind the following tips:
#1 – Read and understand your tenancy contract.
Even before you sign the tenancy contract, make sure that all the terms and conditions are clear between you and your landlord. Ask him/her to define what “wear and tear” means, how much is required for different levels of damage to property, and so on. Every time you renew your contract, make sure that these details remain the same and are clearly defined for both parties. In addition, seek permission from your landlord before making any changes to the property.
#2 – Obtain a check-in and check-out report.
A check-in report basically includes photographs as “evidence” of the apartment or property’s condition before the tenant moves in. It is usually conducted by the landlord, together with the tenant. On the other hand, a check-out report includes photos of the apartment after the tenant moves out. Such reports make it easier to verify if, indeed, there were damages made to the property while the tenant was living in it.
#3 – Settle all your bills.
Before moving out, be sure to pay your bills for water, electricity, telephone, Internet, and other services. After all, these are your responsibility! This way, your landlord will not have to worry about settling any pending bills, and you will have greater changes of getting a full security deposit refund.
#4 – Take out your furniture.
If the property that you rented was unfurnished in the beginning, don’t leave any furniture behind when you move out. Otherwise, the landlord may deduct the cost (to remove your furniture) from your security deposit fund. Instead, consider shipping your furniture to your new place, or selling it to make extra cash!
#5 – Clean the property.
Obviously, the landlord would want the property to be clean before a new tenant moves in, so be sure to leave it clean and “livable.” Aside from being clean and having basic facilities (e.g. bathroom, kitchen) — the property should also be safe, with doors that can be locked securely, smoke alarms, high balconies (for high-rise buildings), and other safety features.
#6 – Repaint and make minor repairs.
Although some “wear and tear” is allowed, you can avoid huge deductions from your security deposit by repainting the walls and making minor repairs, such as covering holes, scuff marks, and other “small” damages.
#7 – Keep a record of property-related expenses.
In addition to the check-in and check-out reports mentioned earlier, having a record of all property-related expenses is also a good idea. This should include your personal costs for any repairs made in the property.
#8 – Clarify maintenance costs.
As part of reading and understanding your tenancy contract, both parties should be clear about maintenance costs. Generally, a maintenance expense worth over AED 500 should be shouldered by the landlord, along with major expenses such as air-conditioning, electrical, and plumbing maintenance. Of course, minor “wear and tear” caused by the tenant must be shouldered by the tenant himself/herself.
#9 – Know your rights and responsibilities.
We cannot stress this enough: read, re-read, and understand your contract before signing any agreements! This is important so that you can avoid any future misunderstandings with the landlord, especially when the time comes for you to move out.
#10 – Maintain a good relationship with the landlord.
And last, but not the least… be in good terms with your landlord. You don’t have to be close buddies, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to be in a good, honest, and professional relationship with him/her. You can do this by paying your dues on time and communicating openly and clearly.
If you have followed all of these tips, yet a dispute still arises between you and your landlord, you may file a case at the Dubai Rental Dispute Centre of the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA). In addition, please read our post about how to settle rental disputes in Dubai.
By following these tips, you can increase your chances of getting a full security deposit refund (or most of it) from your landlord. In relation to this, if you are planning to return home or relocate to another country soon, check out these steps to take when you leave Dubai for good.