Dr Mohamed Hassan al-Kaabi
In this article, I will go through Qatari laws regarding the tenant’s obligation. For those who did not read my previous article, the sources of the law are Law No. (4) of 2008 regarding Property Leasing, Law No. (22) of 2004 regarding Promulgating the Civil Code, and Law No. (13) of 1990 regarding Civil and Commercial Procedure Law. These laws are available in English at www.almeezan.com
First, the tenant must pay the agreed rent on the agreed dates. As both parties of the contract are exchanging benefits, the tenant gets the premises, and in return, the landlord receives the agreed amount of money. Moreover, the tenant must understand that if his payment for rent is more than five thousand riyals, he must approve his payment in writing. However, the question may rise; how much may the lessee pay for the security deposit. According to Article 7 of Property Leasing Law, the landlord may not charge the lessee a security deposit of more than two months’ rent for residential premises.
Second, According to Article 610 of the Civil Code, the tenant shall use the leased property as agreed, and in the absence of such agreement, the tenant shall use it according to its intended purpose and as usual practice. For example, residential premises cannot be used for commercial purposes. Also, the lessee is not allowed, without the consent of the property owner, to make any change in the leased property that may cause damage to the landlord. For instance, the tenant cannot divide a room into two, nor cover a balcony to turn it into a room.
Third, the lessee shall exercise reasonable care when he uses the leased property. He/she shall be liable for any loss or damage that his improper use may cause to the leased property. To preserve this obligation, the lessee shall also notify the landlord of anything that requires the intervention of the landlord, such as urgent repairs needed for the property, the discovery of a defect, wrongful seizure, a challenge to the tenant's use; or any damage therein. Worth to note, the lessor is not responsible for minor repairs, the lessee must execute all such minor repairs, unless agreed otherwise — minor maintenance such as changing light bulbs, fixing the doors or windows, etc.
Finally, the tenant shall vacate the leased property upon the expiry of the lease. However, if the tenant continues to occupy the property without right, he/she shall, in addition to the delivery of the property, pay compensation to the lessor. Such payment will not be only the rent but also the damage suffered by the landlord. Moreover, the tenant shall return the leased property in the same condition as he/she received it. So, what happens if he/she received the leased premise in a bad shape? If the tenant received the leased premise without a description of its condition, he/she should be assumed to have taken delivery of the property in good condition unless evidence to the contrary is provided. Therefore, I advise those who receive the premise in bad shape to mention it in the agreement.
In conclusion, I advise tenants to take the rules into consideration when negotiating the terms of the lease agreement and try your best to incorporate them into the contract. Default rules may play a significant role in determining the final allocation of risks. I understand that most of the lease contracts are standard-form contracts written by one side. Of course, drafters can design one-sided provisions that strengthen their rights, unless you negotiate these provisions. You can do it easily and remind the property owners that these rules are legislator’s rules.
The next article will deal with the termination of a lease contract.
*Dr Mohamed Hassan al-Kaabi is Assistant Professor of Private Law, College of Law, Qatar University
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