Com­mon rental con­cerns

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL - By Fa­jer Ahmed

Alarge part of liv­ing a stable life in a new coun­try is find­ing a place to com­fort­ably live in. Kuwait, un­like other neigh­bor­ing coun­tries has pretty easy go­ing norms when it comes to rent-re­lated is­sues. New­com­ers are not asked for a year’s rent in ad­vance and there are no seg­re­gated ar­eas for ex­pats/Kuwaitis, yet there’s a lot of things that can be changed to make the ex­pe­ri­ence of liv­ing in Kuwait eas­ier and there are still lots of com­mon con­cerns, that I shall an­swer in this week’s col­umn.

Rental rate in­creases Q: I have signed a one year con­tract, a year ago ex­actly when I first moved to Kuwait. The agreed rent amount was KD 200. Now a year later the land­lord has pro­vided me with a new con­tract to sign for KD 250. Can he raise the rent with­out giv­ing me no­tice?

A: Ac­cord­ing to Kuwaiti law no 35 promulgated in 1978, your land­lord has no right to raise the amount of rent un­less five years have passed since you signed the rental agree­ment and moved in (re­gard­less of how long the term of your con­tract is) or if you have both agreed to the mark up in the price! So my ad­vice is do not sign the pro­posed con­tract. If your land­lord threat­ens to evict you, or de­clines to ac­cept the rent, I sug­gest you pay your dues at court. There’s a depart­ment des­ig­nated for rent dis­putes and there­fore you can de­posit the amounts there ac­cord­ingly.

Q: My ques­tion to you per­tains to the rais­ing of rents by land­lords. What is the cri­te­ria that land­lords use to raise the rents? Is there any law stip­u­lat­ing the max­i­mum per­cent­age that a land­lord can raise the rent or does the law leave it to his dis­cre­tion?

A: Well if the land­lord is rais­ing the rent (af­ter five years of you oc­cu­py­ing the space, as men­tioned above), then he can only raise it if it’s 50% less than the mar­ket price and can only raise it up to the av­er­age mar­ket price. How do you cal­cu­late the av­er­age mar­ket price? You see how much a place with the same stan­dards as your build­ing in the same lo­ca­tion is go­ing for. That might not be so easy to de­ter­mine as places dif­fer all the time.

Who pays for re­pairs? Q: I have had a leak in the ceil­ing of a bed­room in my apart­ment since June which the land­lord has failed to re­pair un­til this week. There is still a hole in the ceil­ing with the wa­ter dam­ag­ing my fur­ni­ture and the lights too. I have not paid the full rent of KD 650, in­stead I am pay­ing KD 600 ev­ery month un­til it was re­paired. They are re­fus­ing and have threat­ened to pass it on to their lawyer. Can you tell me where I stand?

A: Even though the land­lord is re­spon­si­ble for the main­te­nance of the unit, and is re­spon­si­ble for re­pair­ing is­sues such as wa­ter leak­age, that doesn’t give you the right to deduct KD 50 ev­ery month from the rent un­til they fix the prob­lem. If the ten­ant re­fuses to fix any dam­ages hap­pen­ing to the unit (that you are not re­spon­si­ble for), then let them know and wait a few weeks, if the land­lord re­fused to re­pair the dam­age, then let him know in writ­ing that you shall fix the dam­age your­self and in­clude the cost of the dam­age and then deduct that from the rent. You can’t just deduct KD 50 x six months be­cause of some wa­ter leak­age, you could have re­moved your fur­ni­ture out of the way the first day and fixed it and asked for re­im­burse­ment. Things have to be bal­anced for both par­ties.

Late rent pay­ments Q: Hello, I am an ex­pat liv­ing here in Kuwait with my fam­ily. I have fallen be­hind two weeks on pay­ing rent. My ques­tion is can the haris or land­lord turn my lights off? And what law states that they can or can­not?

A: This is a tough one. Tech­ni­cally yes, the land­lord can refuse to pay for your ameni­ties if you have not paid for your rent. In fact, ac­cord­ing to the rent law men­tioned above your land­lord can even evict you if you are late in pay­ing your rent. If you are hav­ing an is­sue this month I sug­gest you talk it out with your land­lord and al­low him to give you a grace pe­riod or just ne­go­ti­ate with him ac­cord­ing to your fi­nan­cial needs.

Q: I have been liv­ing in a space for 18 months, but only had a one year con­tract. Does that mean that my con­tract au­to­mat­i­cally re­newed it­self for a year? And if so does that mean I can’t leave till the re­main­ing 6 months are over?

A: If the term of your rent con­tract ends, yet you con­tinue to oc­cupy the space and pay the rent in a timely man­ner, then your con­tract is re­newed for the pe­riod of your rent pay­ment. For ex­am­ple, if you pay monthly, then your con­tract is re­newed month by month even though you ini­tially had a one year con­tract. To put it in sim­ple terms any­thing be­yond the ini­tial term of your con­tract is re­newed ac­cord­ing to what you are pay­ing for. I hope the an­swers above help with the com­mon con­cerns for land­lords and ten­ants, if you have any fur­ther ques­tions re­gard­ing rent or any other le­gal is­sues, please feel free to email me on ask@fa­jerthelawyer.com

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