Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has its own set of laws and regulations that take precedent over Dubai laws in all civil and commercial matters within DIFC. In fact, DIFC has their own judicial court system to hear all legal matters.
Although many Dubai residents don’t realize it, real estate transactions in DIFC are not governed by Dubai real estate laws. Whether you are a buyer, seller, landlord or tenant, it is your responsibility to seek out and comply with DIFC real estate laws and practices. You cannot assume that laws that are valid in Dubai are also applicable in DIFC.
There are a number of differences in DIFC real estate laws compared to Dubai. Most notable, and probably of most interest, are the rent laws in DIFC.
Rent Laws in DIFC
No Cap on Rent Increases
This might surprise many people but there is no cap on rent increases in DIFC. Unlike in Dubai, where landlords cannot raise rent by more than a specific percentage at the end of a rent contract, property owners in DIFC are not restricted from raising rents.
Update: Properties in DIFC are now subject to the same rent increase caps as all property in Dubai. This changed in early 2014 when Decree No. 43 of 2013 came into effect.
Rent Commitee Has No Jurisdiction in DIFC
In Dubai, when most landlords and tenants have a dispute they take it to the Rent Disputes Settlement Centre (what used to be known as Dubai Land Department’s Rent Committee). However, the Rent Disputes Settlement Center/Rent Committee has no jurisdiction to make rulings in real estate disputes involving DIFC properties. Instead, complaints must be filed though the Small Claims Tribunal in Dubai International Financial Centre.
The jurisdiction of DIFC tribunals to oversee all property related matters in DIFC was reinforced in Decree No. 26 of 2013, which established the Rent Disputes Settlement Center in Dubai.
No Ejari Registration in DIFC
Properties in Dubai International Financial Centre cannot be registered in Dubai Land Department’s Ejari system. Instead they are registered with the DIFC Registrar of Real Property.
Registrar of Real Property – Dubai International Financial Centre
Marble Walk – The Gate building
PO Box 74777
Tel: +971 (0)4 362 2255
Hours: 09:00 – 12:30 & 15:00 – 16:30 (Sunday to Thursday)
Rent Contracts are NOT Automatically Renewable
Most standard rent contracts in Dubai are “renewable” by default. However, rent contracts in DIFC are “non-renewable,” in other words they are not automatically renewable. Therefor DIFC landlords do not have to give an eviction notice to tenants unless specifically stated in the lease. As such, the end date stated on the lease is the date by which the tenant must renew or move out of the property.