In the Hotseat.
Head of Agency
Sales & Leasing
Q1. I've recently rented a three bedroom apartment in Azaiba. Am I within my rights to sublet one of the rooms to a colleague of mine? Can the landlord object if I do that?
Name withheld on request
A. No subletting is technically allowed under the terms of the Municipality lease agreement you have signed with the landlord, unless you receive the landlordAEs formal permission. For this you would need a formal agreement.
However, realistically, many tenants allow friends and colleagues to occupy spare rooms in their apartments for a monetary consideration on an informal basis. As long as you are the named party to the lease, you are free to let whomever you wish to stay in the property.
Subletting of the whole property however, is a different matter and this is not permitted without the required formal approvals and subletting agreements in place.
Q2. I have been looking for an apartment for the last six months and finally saw one that I liked. The three bedroom flat was let to me for RO450. This was a verbal agreement and I was accordingly given the keys to the flat.
However, the day after I star-ted shifting in, the caretaker slipped under the door the rent agreement to be registered at the Municipality for my signature. Imagine my surprise when I saw that the agreement had been drawn for a monthly rent of RO500. When I pointed out this to the building manager, he said that this was the going rate now and I would have to sign it.
Since the building is a new one and I am moving into a new flat previously unoccupied by anybody else, there are no rent agreements to go by for precedence. But given that similar apartments in surrounding buildings cost only RO350, I felt this was a clear-cut case of cheating. I am now in two minds whether to move out or not. What do I do?
Name withheld on request
A. The important aspect here is that you should never take occupation of a property without all the legal paperwork being signed and completed. If you are in occupation now and have not signed a lease, there is an implied agreement between you and the landlord.
However, you are afforded no protection as to your occupancy - the exact purpose of a lease. We suggest you try and formalise your lease as soon as possible - as the building is new, try and find out what the other tenants are paying - then make your decision. If you do decide to vacate, please next time, sign a letter of intent or lease before taking occupancy.
Disclaimer - The contents of this column are for the purpose of providing general guidelines only. Readers are advised to consult the Ministry of Housing/Municipa-lity and/or a lawyer for specific queries
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