Who is responsible for painting a villa – the tenant or the landlord? We have lived in our villa for four years and asked the landlord if it could have a fresh lick of paint. He says it is our responsibility to pay for this work. Is this the case? We’ve been quoted Dh4,000 for the whole villa, which seems a lot for us to pay but the villa does need it. So, who is right – her or us? NB, Dubai

Maintenance of a rented property can sometimes throw up some interesting scenarios. I will break up my answer into two parts: one is maintenance from a repair perspective, the other is maintenance from an aesthetic perspective.

Repairs are often required from an emergency point of view, such as a burst pipe or tank or from leaking installations. Breakages can sometimes also fall into this category and depending on whether the landlord or tenant has any insurance will determine how one goes about concluding the situation. For any maintenance or work required, it is common practice to monetise the situation so any single maintenance issues that require less than Dh500 is normally the responsibility of the tenant and above this amount is the landlords.

When it comes to redecorating or painting from an aesthetic point of view, remember that a property has to be returned in the same condition as it was before the contract started. Now depending on what kind of relationship you have with your landlord, will determine how your dilemma will be resolved. You say you have already spoken with your landlord and that she says it is your responsibility. To a point she is right, because as stated, it will need to be returned as new, however if it is only a lick of paint that is required to freshen it up, the landlord does also have a responsibility to give you a decent property in return for the rent. Therefore, she should at the very least, share the cost with you. The reality however is that it would be foolish to fall out over such a situation so if she insists on not contributing anything, it is your choice to go ahead or not with the redecorating given you will be living in the property for the foreseeable future

I live in an apartment in Abu Dhabi and recently discovered the other tenants pay Dh10,000 to Dh15,000 for the same type of unit. Those tenants all moved in after me, hence the cheaper deal. The block is owned by a single landlord with an agent managing all the units within it. My contract is due for renewal in three months. How do I negotiate a cheaper rate for me? MW, Abu Dhabi

If you want to alter any part of a tenancy contract, you are required to put in writing – two months prior to the date of the lease expiring – the changes you would like to make. In your case this would be to lower the rent.

To convince the landlord, it would be advisable to also arrange a face-to-face meeting to explain that others are paying a lower rent and that while you would like to remain in the property and renew the lease you would only wish to do so at more favourable rates.

It is better to speak to the landlord on a more personal footing in a face-to-face meeting rather than on the telephone or email and I’m sure you are more likely to succeed if you do it this way.

If, however, you cannot convince the landlord to lower your rent to match the others, you can then decide to seek other cheaper units and move out. In this case, you still have enough time to put in writing that you will not renew. Remember that any changes require a 60-day written notification and this includes non-renewal too.

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