Law Regulating Old Rental Contracts
This text regulates rental contracts signed for residential properties before February 2001 and for commercial properties before February 2006. For rental contracts signed after these dates, it is Law No. 6 of 2001 that applies.
Law No. 20 of 2015
The President of the Republic,
In accordance with the provisions of the Constitution
and pursuant to what was approved by the People’s Council in its session held on 22/1/1437 Hijri corresponding to 4/11/2015 Gregorian,
Promulgates the following:
- The leasing of real estate for the following purposes is subject to the will of the contractors: when intended for housing, vacation, tourism, or recreation; or for the practice of commercial, industrial, professional, entrepreneurial, or scientific activities that are legally regulated; or to public entities, administrative units, public or joint institutions, educational institutions, schools, political parties, people’s organizations, syndicates at all levels, or associations.
- The leasing of real estate intended for housing, vacation, tourism, or recreation remains subject to the will of the contractors since the date of the entry into force of Law No. 6 of 2001. Similarly, the leasing of real estate for the practice of commercial, industrial, or artisanal activities or the pursuit of a legally-regulated liberal or scientific profession; or leased to public entities, administrative units, public or joint institutions, educational institutions, schools, political parties, people’s organizations, syndicates at all levels, or associations remain subject to the will of the contractors from the date of the entry into force of Law No. 10 of 2006.
- Properties leased under the provisions of Legislative Decree No. 111 of 1952 and its amendments remain subject to the provisions of statutory extension and the determination of rental rate.
- The real estate rents set forth in paragraph C of this article shall be determined in accordance with the following percentages of the value of the rented property at the date of filing the lawsuit for a calendar year:
- 5 percent of the value of properties leased for accommodation plus 20 percent of the value of the furniture included in the lease contract.
- 6 percent of the value of properties leased for the practice of a legally regulated liberal or scientific profession.
- 7 percent of the value of properties leased to official departments for use as courts, leased for commercial or industrial investment or artisanal purposes, or leased to political parties, public entities, administrative units, people’s organizations, syndicates at all levels, or associations.
- 8 percent of the value of properties rented for use as schools.
Contrary to any agreement, the rental rate may not be levied in advance for a period exceeding three months for the properties covered by the statutory extension.
- Lease contracts shall be registered with the administrative units (Governorate, City, Town, Municipality) provided that these contracts include details of the contractors’ identities, their respective addresses, their signatures or those of their legal representatives, the duration of the lease, its rate, descriptions of the leased property, the purpose of the lease and all the agreed-upon conditions. On registration, an amount equal to 1 percent of the monthly rental rate shall be collected from the lessor, provided that this amount is no less than five hundred Syrian pounds for residential real estate, and one thousand Syrian pounds for commercial or industrial real estate and technical and service offices. The Minister of Local Administration shall issue the executive directives for this registration.
- The application for registration and documentation of the lease contract, in the manner described in paragraph A of this article, shall not be accepted unless it is submitted by the independent owner of the property or the party owning at least 75 percent of the total shares of a shared property, as stated in the title deed issued by the land registry; or in equivalent documents such as the provisional register, or documents issued by the General Housing Establishment, the Military Social Establishment, the Military Housing Establishment, the Cooperative Association of Housing; or through a certificate of inheritance of the deceased property owner, an irrevocable judiciary ruling; or through the legal representative. The register of property ruled in favour of the claimant shall be free from any reference to a dispute over their ownership preceding the claimant’s notice. Exempted from this are individual owners of a share of the property equivalent to their share as documented by the relevant administrative authority.
- The Minister of Local Administration shall issue the executive directives governing this article and the separate directives pertaining to buildings in informal housing areas or violations that have been settled.
- The lease contract covered by the provisions of paragraphs A and B of Article 1 of this law, registered in accordance with the provisions of Article 3 thereof, shall be considered an executory title among the titles provided for in Article 273 of the Proceedings Law promulgated by Legislative Decree No. 84 of 1953 and its amendments, under which the lessor or their legal representative shall deposit the aforementioned lease contract with the district of implementation, in order to recover their property upon the expiry of the period specified in the lease contract, or to collect fees due that the lessee has failed to pay.
- The verification of unregistered lease contracts entered into under the provisions of this Law and Law No. 6 of 2001 or Law No. 10 of 2006 shall be governed by the applicable legal rules and subject to the provisions of paragraph A or paragraph B of Article 1 of this Law.
- In the event that the lessor, landlord, or lessee claims wrongdoing in the rental rate subject to statutory extension, the Magistrates’ Court shall appoint one or three experts to assess the value of the property subject to the dispute, in accordance with the following rules:
- The litigants may agree on the selection of the expert or three experts. In this case, the Court shall establish their agreement in the minutes of the proceedings and decide on the appointment of the selected experts.
- If the litigants do not agree on the selection of the expert or three experts, each one shall nominate an expert from the roster of experts declared by the Ministry of Justice, and the Court shall appoint the third expert from this roster.
- If one of the litigants declines to name their expert, the choice shall be taken by the Court.
- In ongoing trials in presence, it is up to the Court to choose the expert in the event there is only one. In cases involving three experts, the party present reserves the right to nominate their expert.
- In regard to commonly owned property, the judgment rendered in the lawsuit filed for wrongdoing in the rental rate for the majority shareholders shall apply to all owners unless it is proved that the judgment was based on deception or fraud.
If the lawsuit is filed by the minority shareholders, the decision to determine the rental rate remains limited to their share alone.
- The Court shall order the defendant to pay all expenses unless it is shown that the wrongdoing is not grave, or if it is proved that the person in whose favour it ruled has incurred frivolous expenses. In this case, the Court may distribute the expenses among the two parties in the manner it deems fair.
- The claim by the lessor or lessee of wrongdoing pertaining to the rental rate shall not exempt the lessee from paying the rent due under the legal provisions, provided that the calculation shall be made after a final ruling has been issued and put into effect with the estimated fees applicable from the date of the claim.
- The wrongdoing claim and fee determination shall be heard only once every three years. This period shall commence from the date of entry into the contract, from the date of the written consent to amend the fee, or from the date of the previous claim.
Without prejudice to the provisions of paragraphs A and B of Article 1 of this Law, and the provisions of Article 4 thereof, a lessee of a property among the properties set forth in this Law subject to statutory extension shall not be ordered to evict except in the following cases:
- If the lessee does not pay the fees legally due or valued in the ruling within thirty days from the day after being notified of the claim by exposed posted card or by warning via the notary, the claim shall be deemed to be valid only if the required amount and the period related thereto are stated. The accumulated fees for previous lease years are considered a normal debt, for which eviction is not mandated in the event of non-payment.The posted claim is considered legal if stated on an exposed card communicated specifically to the addressee or to a relative residing with them in their domicile, or to one of their partners or employees in the plots rented for purposes other than accommodation in cases where the addressee is not present, on condition that the party receiving the notice be at least eighteen years of age. If this is not possible, or one of the above refuses the notice, the authorized employee shall paste the card on the door of the lessee’s place of residence and indicate how the notice was delivered by the authorized employee, with the testimony of two witnesses, the mukhtar of the locality, or a police member on duty.
The addressee’s residence shall be designated by the sender of the posted notice or warning in a clear manner derived from what the parties have stated in the lease document. The leased property may be considered the lessee’s place of residence in the event that the addressee’s residence is not designated, and the sender of the card shall indicate their address in the claim card.
If the deadline for a payment or deposit coincides with a weekend or an official holiday, it shall extend to the first working day thereafter.
Legal persons are notified in accordance with the Proceedings Law. In general, no notice may be issued before the hour of 08:00 or after 18:00, or on weekends or official holidays.
- The lessee shall have the right to avoid an eviction order only once if, within thirty days of being notified in person of a summons, or a notification of charges if the summons is not received in person, they fulfil the payment of the fee and its interest accrued at the rate of 5 percent from the due date until the date of payment. The Court shall then decide the expenses and fees payable by the lessee.
- If the lessee misuses the property by causing damage that does not arise from normal use or uses it or allows it to be used in a manner inconsistent with the terms of the contract or which constitutes a breach of contract.
- If the lessee sub-lets or hands over the leased property, in whole or in part, to third parties without written permission from the lessor.
- Eviction is exempted in the case described in Clause 1 of this paragraph if the property is leased for purposes of a commercial, industrial or pharmaceutical activities, a legally-regulated liberal, intellectual, or scientific profession, or an artisanal work, and if the lessee or their heirs wish to sell the property or hand it over in full to others.
In this case, the lessee or their heirs shall, before concluding an agreement with third parties to sell or hand over the property, inform the independent owner, their heirs, or common owners of at least three quarters of the shares of the property, by means of an exposed posted card or a letter sent by the notary in whose district the leased property is located, informing them of the price offered to them. The property owner has the option either to receive 10 percent of the offered sum in return for consent to sell and hand it over, or to claim a right to the first offer for the purchase. In this case, the owner must deposit the price with the aforementioned 10 percent deducted within a period of thirty days from the date of receiving notary notice in the fund of the district of implementation corresponding to the leased property, for the benefit of the lessee, conditional on the forfeiture of the lease contract and the handover of the leased property. The deposit shall be made in accordance with the provisions of offer and deposit stipulated in the Proceedings Law, consistent with the provisions of this article.
In the event that that period expires without the property owner undertaking the above deposit, the lessee may sell to a party other than the owner, with the obligation to pay 10 percent of the aforementioned price to that party.
In this case, the buyer shall be considered the successor of the selling lessee or their heirs with respect to all the terms of the lease contract.
- The right to receive 10 percent of the sale price, or to exercise the right of first offer for the purchase in the event that the right to use the property belongs to other than the bare owner, is confined to the party with the right to use the property alone.
- The handover or sale mentioned in Clause 2 of this paragraph shall remain subject to the payment of the financial fees of the estimated valuations at the financial departments, whatever the value of the sale or handover.
- Exempted from eviction are cases of the introduction of a partner into the leased property, provided that it remains a whole unit. The owner reserves the right to request the immediate valuation of the leased property, provided that the provisions of Clause 2 of this paragraph concerning the owner’s right of first offer and the deduction of the percentage prescribed to them shall be applied.
- The right to evict shall also exempt properties leased, prior to the entry into force of law of Law No. 6 of 2001, to a ministry, department, public body, administrative unit, municipality, institution, company, public installation, or all public or joint sector institutions or public services and their management, be they of an administrative or economic nature, if such entities hand over the leased property, in whole or in part, to one of the bodies specified by a directive from the prime minister. The party to which the property is handed over shall be considered a successor to the lessee party with respect to all the terms of the contract. In this case, the lessor shall reserve the right to request the immediate valuation of the handed over property. The handover shall be conditional on the use of the leased property in a manner similar to that specified in the lease contract, and on the evaluated lease rate being no less than the percentage specified before the handover.
- The occupant partner of a common property shall be considered the lessee should the majority of the owners of the right of management agree. The rate is then valued in accordance with the aforementioned provisions. The occupant partner shall be ordered to vacate the property in the event that they fail to pay the required rate valued in the ruling within the period stipulated in paragraph A of this article.
As for a partner who resides in a property in which they own a share, and who sells this property as a result of a judicial ruling to dissolve the common ownership,they shall not be considered the lessee, and shall not be entitled to remain in the property without the consent of the new owner, unless they lease the shares of the other partners with a fixed-date contract prior to the claim to dissolve the common ownership.
- If the independent owner of a residential property requests their leased property for residence, on the following conditions:
- That the property to be vacated comprises one apartment, and that the party requesting eviction who has leased the property, or during whose ownership period it was leased, not be an owner of another property before the entry into force of this law.
- That at least two years have passed since they came into ownership, or exclusive ownership, of the property to be vacated. Considered as the independent owner are the following relatives who, in total, own the entire property:
- Spouses and their children
- Forebears and descendants
- Brothers and sisters and their children.
Included in this are those under the guardianship or custody of one of those mentioned. Heirs shall be considered as independent owners who have leased the property to be vacated.
No eviction shall be ordered for the reason stated in this paragraph if the lessee or their spouse is only an employee, a concierge, a worker subject to the Basic Law on Employees, a member of the military, a public or joint sector employee, or any of the aforementioned whose service was legally terminated for any reason other than death, if they are entitled to a wage, disability allowance, or pension, unless the owner is a worker, employee, concierge, or member of the military who returns to the town where the leased property is located; transferred; retired; or discharged for any reason; or if their family returned to it after their death.
However, if the owner is the one who leases the property to a lessee who meets, or whose spouse meets, the aforementioned protection reasons, they or their heirs may request the eviction of the lessee, provided that they warn them of the eviction claim via the notary three months prior to the eviction lawsuit.
Eviction shall not be ruled for the reasons stated in this paragraph if the lessee is martyred, missing in action, or taken prisoner in the course of war, and their family continues to occupy the leased property without obtaining housing from the state. In this case, the family refers to the wife and the children, combined or individually, for the duration of their entitlement, or the entitlement of one of them, to a pension, as well as the lessee’s dependents, including parents, brothers and sisters, combined or individually, if they were residing with them in the leased property. Martyrdom or the state of being missing in action are proven with a document issued by the Ministry of Defence.
- If the owner of the built property wishes to construct a complete new building instead of the old building, with the exception of properties leased to public entities, except in the case of total or partial dilapidation of the leased property, if it reaches a state unsuitable for the use for which it was rented, or if its utility has decreased significantly.
- If the owner of the leased plot, or the owner of a part thereof, wishes to construct a complete new building on their property. The eviction ruling is conditional, in the circumstances described in this paragraph and the preceding Paragraph F, on the owner proving they have obtained a license to construct the new building in advance.
- If the lessee is an independent owner of a dwelling suitable for their residence which is vacant or which they may vacate per the laws in force.
- If the lessee owns, independently, or builds after leasing, a dwelling suitable for their residence, and if they leased it to another party or did not lease it, or sold it or otherwise disposed of it.
- If the lessee abandons the leased property without justification for a whole year without interruption, in a manner that definitively indicates they have no need of it.
A lessee ordered to vacate in accordance with Paragraphs F and G of the preceding Article shall have the right to occupy the new construction or a part thereof similar to the vacated property if it can be used in the same manner that it was used before the evacuation and renovation of the building, provided that the new leased property shall be subject to the rule of rent determination by way of valuation.
In the event that the lessee ordered to evacuate is unable to make use of the new property, the owner shall pay them compensation equivalent to 40 percent of the value of the property leased for housing which they occupied.
As for other properties, the Court shall, in determining this compensation, note all the factors of loss and opportunity cost affecting the lessee, taking into particular account the type of work in which the lessee engaged, the abundance or paucity of customers, the value of the establishment, and the ability of the lessee to lease property in the near vicinity similar to the vacated property, and the expenses of relocating to the new property and equipping it. If at any time it is proven that the lessee is unable to make use ofthe new property, they may demand compensation in a separate claim.
If the landlord wishes to vacate their property leased to political parties, public entities, people’s organizations, syndicates at all levels, associations, administrative units, municipalities, public and mixed sector institutions, educational institutions or schools, for one of the reasons stipulated in Paragraphs E and G of Article 7 of this law, the eviction lawsuit shall only be heard one year after the lessee is informed of the eviction request via the notary or via an exposed posted card.
When the eviction is ordered, the occupant shall be given a period in which to vacate of no less than three months and no more than six months starting from the date of the ruling acquiring irrevocability.
If one of the lessees in contracts subject to statutory extension breaches their obligations, the effect of the breach shall not apply to the other lessees unless their knowledge of it is proven.
- In addition to the provisions of Article 7 of this law, the owner of property leased for residence, with the exception of properties owned by public entities, and as of 1/1/2018, the owner of property leased to political parties, public entities, municipalities, public or joint sector institutions, people’s organizations, syndicates at all levels, or associations, has the right to request the termination of the lease relationship and the retrieval of the leased property covered by the provisions of statutory extension, in exchange for compensation to the lessee entity of an amount equivalent to 40 percent of the value of the leased property when vacant and in its condition on the date of expert inspection duty of the leased property by the Court. The value of the property in the commercial market, while it is vacant and not leased, including the value of all material and immaterial elements, the value of the land, and its servitudes and easements, shall be taken into account.
- The provisions of Paragraph A may not be applied to educational institutions and schools leased to ministries unless the concerned ministry deems that these properties are not needed.
- For commonly owned property, the lawsuit referred to in paragraph A of this article shall be filed by partners who own at least three quarters of the shares of the property. These partners have the right of recourse to their partners who own the remaining shares insofar as that affects their share of the compensation paid to the lessee collected from them in cash or in deduction, which affects their share of its use after receiving the property from the lessee to improve its utility. In the event of a dispute over such recourse, the Magistrates’ Court shall adjudicate it in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Proceedings Law.
- If the owner of the right to use in the rented property differs from the owner-occupant, the request to terminate the lease relationship shall be limited to the owner of the usufruct, and the request will not be accepted from the owner-occupant unless the usufruct owner permits this by a legally-filed intervention request.
- If the lease relationship has been legally transferred to the heirs of the lessee of property intended for residence, the lawsuit to terminate the lease relationship shall be directed from the owner to the heirs residing in the leased property with their testator upon death and prior to it without interruption. The rest of the heirs shall not be contested in the lawsuit unless among them is an heiress who returned to the leased property after the end of marriage by divorce or the death of her husband.
- The court shall verify the ownership of the leased property by the real estate register issued by the land registry or other similar official records such as those of the General Housing Establishment, the temporary registry, the Military Social Establishment, or the Cooperative Association of Housing, or through a certificate of inheritance of the deceased property owner, or an irrevocable judiciary ruling.
- The landlord in whose favour the termination of the lease relationship and the retrieval of their property is ruled, in accordance with Paragraph A of this article, shall file the ruling obtained with the relevant district of implementation within a period of three months starting from the date of the ruling acquiring irrevocability, together with the compensation amount awarded to the lessee, no later than thirty days from the date of receiving the executive notice under penalty of deeming them to have waived the ruling and to not be entitled to file a new lawsuit until three years after the date of the ruling acquiring irrevocability.
- Persons who have received an irrevocable ruling of termination of the lease relationship before the entry into force of this law shall file the ruling with the district of implementation, together with the compensation amount, no later than three months from the date of its entry into force, with the requirement that the abstention provisions stipulated in Clause 1 of this Paragraph are enforced.
- The lessee ordered to return the property to the owner shall be given one month to hand the property over, starting from the date the owner filed the compensation determined by the judiciary in the fund of the district of implementation.
- The Magistrates’ Court shall have final adjudication in the cases of real estate rents, valuation, eviction, annulment of the lease contract, its invalidity, termination, compensation and in all lease disputes, irrespective of the property rent or the amount claimed.
- The Court of Cassation shall promptly adjudicate appeals against the judgments issued in lease claims.
- Appeals in cases of eviction and termination of the lease relationship provided for in this law shall suspend the implementation.
Exempted from the provisions of this law are:
- Contracts for the lease of land for agriculture or animal husbandry, and their associated buildings.
- Contracts under which employers provide accommodation for their workers.
- Contracts for housing occupancy leased in accordance with the provisions of Law 43 of 1982.
- Contracts for the occupancy of public property.
- Contracts for the investment of real estate owned by the state, administrative units, or public institutions subject to the provisions of the administrative contract established and originally allocated for services linked to the public interest.
- Investment contracts of economic and professional installations. These are dedicated, with all the material and immaterial elements to legally regulated commercial or industrial sites, tourist and service establishments, professional or scientific offices, or artisanal professions, whose owners enter into contracts with others for the purpose of managing and investing them in exchange for a specified rent and for a specified period, while their proprietors remain committed to the payment of rents to the leasing property owners.
- Properties of the Hijaz railway covered by the provisions of Legislative Decree No. 20 of 6/8/1964.
The following persons shall be punished by imprisonment for a period between one month and one year, and a fine of between five thousand and fifty thousand Syrian pounds:
- Any person who has vacated a property in accordance with the provisions of Paragraphs E and G of Article 7 of this law and has not yet occupied or commenced construction of the property within a period of three months from the date of eviction, or has not concluded it within a period of five years from the date of the eviction, or has not continued to occupy it for a period of at least two years. The property owner is obliged to pay the lessee the compensation specified in accordance with the provisions of Article 8 of this law.
- Any lessor who has undertaken to inconvenience the lessee and pressure them to vacate the property, or to increase the legal rent. The lessee may repair what the lesser or owner has damaged, directly or through an intermediary, and deduct the expenses incurred from the rent.
- The offences set forth in this article shall be prosecuted only on the basis of complaint by the aggrieved party.
Eviction compensation or grants, or comparable donations that have been collected, or are collected for real estate owned by public entities, institutions, charitable societies of public benefit, people’s organizations, syndicates, pension funds, social security funds, and the like, are considered legitimate.
Judicial rulings issued prior to the promulgation of this law which have acquired irrevocability are implemented as is.
Lawsuits pending before the Magistrates’ Courts, and rulings that have not acquired irrevocability, shall be decided by the relevant authority in accordance with the provisions of the law and the provisions of the Proceedings Law.
- The provisions of the Civil Code and the Proceedings Law shall apply to all matters unless provided for in this law.
- Any legislative text that violates this law shall be repealed.
This law shall be published in the official gazette.
Damascus, 30/1/1437 Hijri, corresponding to 11/11/2015 Gregorian.
President of the Republic