Claim No. SCT 362/2022
THE DUBAI INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL CENTRE COURTS
In the name of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum,
Ruler of Dubai
IN THE SMALL CLAIMS TRIBUNAL OF DIFC COURTS
BEFORE H.E. JUSTICE MAHA AL MHEIRI
|Hearing :||22 November 2022|
|Judgment :||5 December 2022|
JUDGMENT OF H.E. JUSTICE MAHA AL MHEIRI
UPON this Claim being filed on 6 October 2022
AND UPON the Defendants’ Acknowledgment of Service being filed on 14 October 2022
AND UPON a hearing having been listed before H.E Justice Maha Al Mheiri on 22 November 2022, with the Claimant and the Defendants in attendance
AND UPON reading the submissions and evidence filed and recorded on the Court file
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:
1. The Defendants shall pay the Claimant the sum of AED 1,531.
2. The Claimant shall return the remainder of the Security Deposit in the amount of AED 6,969 to the Defendants.
3. The Defendants shall pay the Claimant the Court filing fee in the amount of AED 367.50.
Date of issue: 5 December 2022
1. The Claimant is Luham (the “Claimant”), the landlord of unit 100 at, DIFC, Dubai (the “Premises”).
2. The First Defendant Lehat (the “First Defendant”), an individual leasing the Premises.
3. The Second Defendant Larst (the “Second Defendant”), an individual leasing the Premises.
Background and the Preceding History
4. On 20 August 2021, the Claimant and the Defendants entered into an agreement to lease the Premises for one year (the “Lease Agreement”), starting from 20 August 2021 to 19 August 2022. The Defendant paid the full amount for the rent and AED 8,500 as a security deposit (the “Security Deposit”) for the Premises.
5. At the expiry of the Lease Agreement the parties met with a third-party inspection team hired by the Claimant to visit the Premises and issue a Snag Report in the presence of the Second Defendant. The parties did not agree on the Snag Report dated 7 September 2022.
6. On 6 October 2022, the Claimant filed a claim with the DIFC Courts’ Small Claims Tribunal (the “SCT”) seeking an order that the Defendants pay the amount of AED 4,591 for repairs to be rectified within the Premises, being the following:
(a) LED lights and cam lock in the amount of AED 185;
(b) Sink stopper in the amount of AED 46;
(c) Repair and replacing of flooring in the amount of AED 2,220;
(d) Two toilet seat covers (soft closing) in the amount of AED 840; and
(e) The painting of the living room, master bedroom, guest room, two bathrooms, toilet ceiling repair (50% of the total cost AED 2,625 is charged) in the amount of AED 1,300.
7. On 3 August 2022, the Defendants filed an Acknowledgment of Service intending to defend part of the Claim.
8. The parties met for a Consultation with SCT Judge Maitha AlShehhi on 26 October 2022 but were unable to reach a settlement.
9. In line with the rules and procedures of the SCT, this matter was referred to me for determination, pursuant to a Hearing held on 22 November 2022, with the Claimant and the Defendants in attendance.
10. The Claimant’s case is that he entered into the Lease Agreement with the Defendants for a one year period, from 20 August 2021 to 19 August 2022. At the expiry of the Lease Agreement the parties met with a third-party inspection team hired by the Claimant to issue a Snag Report. The Snag Report dated 7 September 2022 sets out a list of the defects found within the Premises that allegedly occurred during the Defendant’s occupancy of the Premises. The Snag Report was issued based on the current status of the Premises without any comparison of the Premises at the time the Defendants commenced their occupancy of the Premises.
11. The Claimant seeks the amount of AED 4,591 which reflects the total cost for rectifying the defects identified within the Snag Report.
12. The Defendants vacated the Premises on 19 August 2022. The Defendants argue that they cleaned and painted the Premises, and returned it to the state that it was originally leased.
13. The Defendants assert that they have taken all steps necessary to vacate the Premises in the same condition as it was first obtained, other than fair wear and tear.
14. The Defendants accepted some items on the Snag Report and denied others arguing that the items fall under ‘wear and tear’ or they were already present when the Defendants leased the Premises. The Defendants accepted to pay for items A and B from the list at paragraph 6 above.
15. The Defendants argue that item C refers to damaged and scratched vinyl flooring, specifically found in the living room. To refute this claim, the Defendants presented evidence to support that the flooring in the living room was already damaged at the time of moving into the Premises. As such the Defendants deny responsibility of the item.
16. The Defendants also argue that item D mentions 1 toilet seat and the Claimant seeks to charge for the replacement of two toilet seat covers. The Defendants further add that after investigation of the Snag Report it turns out that it is the rubber stopper found in the toilet seat that needs replacing and not the whole toilet seat itself.
17. In relation to item E, the Claimant requested that the Defendants pay 50% of the total bill that was charged by the third party, in the amount of AED 2,625. The Defendants argue they should only be liable to pay a proportionate sum of the bill. The Claimant provided a quotation by a third party which sets out details of work performed at the Premises, including painting for the whole Premises and the balcony, replacement of fly mesh, and repair and grouting of the balcony ceiling in the amount of AED 2,625. The Defendants disputed this apportioning on the basis that since they are being charged for kitchen ceiling works only. The Defendants dispute that the 50% of the amount is extensive and not proportionate.
18. First and foremost, the relevant Lease Agreement is in relation to a unit in the DIFC, therefore, by default, any agreement shall be governed by the prevailing law of the DIFC, United Arab Emirates and that upon failure to resolve any disputes connected to the Lease Agreement, the dispute shall be referred to the DIFC Courts. Therefore, it is clear and undisputed that the DIFC Courts have jurisdiction to decide this matter. As the claim value is less than AED 500,000, this claim is properly before the SCT.
19. The Claimant provided a Snag Report, this list was performed in the presence of the Second Defendant, the Court will only discuss the below items, being the items disputed at the Hearing, being:
(a) Repair and replacing of flooring in the amount of AED 2,220;
(b) Two toilet seat covers (soft closing) in the amount of AED 840; and
(c) Painting of the living room, master bedroom, guest room, two bathrooms, toilet ceiling repair (50% of the total cost AED 2,625 is charged) in the amount of AED 1,300.
20. After the review of the Snag Report, item A was listed on the report as being only damaged floor in the living room. The Claimant submits that when the contractors came to rectify the flooring, they discovered that the flooring in the master bedroom was also damaged. The Defendants provided evidence to support that the floors in the living room were damaged when they occupied the Premises, as such the Court shall not consider this item falling under the responsibility of the Defendants.
21. In addition, the Court shall not be determining any claims for alleged damages to be rectified outside the scope of the agreed Snag Report due to the absence of the Defendants, as such the Court shall dismiss this the Claimant’s claim for the amount of AED 2,220.
22. In relation to the second item, being the two toilet seats, after review of the photos provided in the Snag Report and confirmation that in fact the rubber stopper under the toilet needs replacing and not the whole cover, I find that this item falls under ‘wear and tear’ and is the responsibility of the Claimant.
23. In relation to the last item on the list, being the repair of the toilet ceiling and painting of the Premises, the Defendants provided the Court with WhatsApp evidence between themselves and the painter. The Defendants failed to provide any evidence of a receipt indicating payment for painting the Premises. The Court also reviewed picture evidence of the walls in the Snag Report which, in my view, indicates that even though the Defendants state that they painted the Premises they did not do a good job.
24. I have also reviewed the quotation provided from the Claimant for painting the whole Premises including the balcony, replacement of fly mesh and repair, and grouting of the balcony ceiling for AED 2,625. Although there is no breakdown of the prices, I find it to be clear that the painting of the Premises reflects the majority of the quoted price. The Claimant requested that the Defendants pay 50% of that amount being AED 1,300.
25. The Court finds the amount of AED 1,300 to be reasonable as a sum to pay to paint the Premises, as such the Defendant’s shall pay the amount of AED 1,300.
26. The Claimant shall pay the Defendants the remainder of the security deposit deducting the amount of AED 1,531 (being the amount to rectify the snags in the Premises).
27. In light of the aforementioned, I find that the Defendants shall pay the Claimant the amount of AED 1,531.
28. The Claimant shall return the remainder of the Security Deposit to the Defendants in the amount of AED 6,969.
29. The Defendants shall pay the Claimant the amount of AED 367.50, being the filing fee applicable to the Claims awarded.