Renting an apartment in Dubai

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Being one of the fastest growing cities, Dubai offers tons of residences you can rent or even buy. Today I will focus on the rent market, since the majority of the Dubai population are expats and are here only temporarily.

There are literally tons of real estate agencies in UAE, and it is almost impossible to find a house without having an agent. Even classifieds on the local Dubizzle website are being placed by agencies. Landlords might have different requirements for their future tenants, thus it’s easier for them to deal with the those through an agent.

A commission to remember.

The distinguished feature about Dubai real estate agents is that their commission is being paid by the tenant and not by the property owner, and it’s capped at 5% of your yearly rent. The problem arises when you realize that most of the agents want to have a bigger commission by selling a place, and are not really interested in helping someone to rent one. Finding a good agent is a real task, but once you managed to get someone competent willing to work with you, it will be relatively easy to find something nice.

Before starting to look for an agent, first decide where you would like to live, because that would be the first question the agent will ask you and do not expect them to guide you. That’s why you have to first decide for yourself and stick to your decision. Do you want an apartment or a house? Dubai boasts all sorts of property and the sky (or the wallet) is your limit. The unofficial rule is that you will have to assign third of your income to the housing. But everything is quite relative and personal and you might definitely choose to save more by living in a cheaper place, which can take up only a quarter or even a fifth of your income. However, in that case you might have to prepare yourself for longer commutes and fewer facilities.

Things to consider.

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The biggest catch with renting an apartment or a villa in Dubai is that you will have to pay lots of money in advance. The property owners for some reason want to have a whole year rent paid to them in advance so make sure you have the necessary amount in your account. The money is being paid through issuing a check (you get the checkbook after opening your card account) and check bouncing is a serious crime in Dubai. Even if you negotiate three or four checks, be ready to still part with significant amount of money, as according to the law (and I will emphasize it again) it is the tenant who pays the fee to the agency.

As I said earlier, the agency fee for renting in Dubai is normally 5%, do not agree to a higher fee, since the agents are not doing much anyway. You will as well have to leave a security deposit, which is also 5%, and is refundable, and you should sign a contract with electricity and water company (DEWA) and leave a security deposit with them as well, which is 2000 dhs for an apartment and 3000 dhs for a house. They tend to increase their rates all the time, but this is the most recent info.

Count everything.

Imagine your yearly lease is 140,000 dhs (a two-bedroom apartment in a good neighborhood) and you negotiated to pay 4 checks (it’s rare but it happens). Your first payment will come to total of 49,000 dhs considering all the fees and deposits (excluding DEWA for now), so do not overestimate your financial capacities before signing the contract.
The first check and the security deposit should have the date of when you sign the contract. Before signing anything, check the title deed of the property-owner, and the license of the agency. The agency should be registered on Rera website, but honestly, it does not help much seeing it there, because sometimes its phone numbers on the website and the one they call you from, are different. So trust your guts and if you don’t like the agent from the agency, ask for someone else, because you have to trust the person you are dealing with. The agent should provide you with all the documents and in case you are feeling like meeting the landlord in person- with her contacts.

Things to consider before renting an apartment.

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Many apartments come unfurnished, so keep that in mind before renting an apartment and when considering the price in case you don’t have a container full of your furniture shipped from your home country waiting for you. Besides, when looking at the apartment have a checklist prepared of things that are important to you, and stick to it. There are tons of places to rent in Dubai but it takes patience, time, and determination to find something that you really like, because once you paid and moved in, you will have to stick to your one-year contract. Be attentive to details- this will be your home for at least the next year and after all the hustle and bustle of the city you might want to have your little safe haven there for you.
You might want to have two bathrooms or a big closet so pay attention to things like that. Many apartments also come with some appliances, like fridge, dishwasher, and washing machine, so take those things into consideration as well, as it will save you lots of money and time. Additionally, consider the view as the main roads might be noisy around the clock.
It will be best to start looking as soon as you arrive to Dubai, so if you have no idea about which district to look at, think of your priorities and your pocket, look at the map- the regions further from main arteries and the beach will be less expensive, and some districts are more popular with certain ethnic groups than the others. Once you are here, take a bus or a cab to go to the place you think would fit your needs and explore. Be prepared to have your opinion changed, and that you might like something you never considered before.
The housing in the Old City is significantly cheaper, but are you willing to sacrifice your time? Anyway, back to the main point of dealing with the agent. He should have a RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Agency) license and number and prepare all the necessary documents for you to sign. The tenancy contracts are usually pretty standard, so if you wish to modify yours, you have to tell the agent that in advance.


How checks work.


The checks should be written in property owner’s name, and the agency fee check- in the agency name, of course. After you have signed the contract and given all the checks to the landlord, you should register yourself with the electricity and water department (DEWA) and with the Ejari- a department which purpose is to regulate and facilitate the rental agreements in the country. Without registering your tenancy contract there, you don’t really have any rights, and in case your landlord wants to evict you or raise the rent price, Ejari will protect you. You can do both DEWA and Ejari registration online or you can ask your agent to do it for you for extra few hundred dirhams.
After you have finished your registration, DEWA people will come to the place and connect you to water and electricity, so make sure all the taps are off as they do not care much if they flood your neighbors. After that you need a moving certificate from the building and you are free to move in and now all you have to do is start living your dream life in Dubai!
A serious thing to keep in mind is that having a tenancy contract is a way to get visas for your family members as now you can officially sponsor them. In order to get your family residence permits, you need tenancy contract, DEWA paper and Ejari certificate, so do not postpone moving in a permanent place, even if you love your hotel so much.

Signing the rental agreement.

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The procedure for renting an apartment or a villa works as follows: you sign the contract and the check at the same time, so better arrange for the owner to be there to sign at the same time with you. I had an unfortunate experience when I gave the checks and the signed contract to the estate agents to give to the owner to sign, and the owner changed her mind and didn’t want to sign anything anymore, so I have to wait a few more days to get the checks back. Good thing that the agents we were dealing with were honest and returned everything, and the checks were postdated so they couldn’t go get the money immediately. Ah, a thing to consider is the difficulty to get the checks cancelled, so consider carefully all the risks and if you feel something is wrong, do not sign anything.

Renting an apartment in Dubai (or even a villa) is not easy but it’s straightforward and manageable. Do not be afraid to express your wishes to the agent and you will end up with something truly nice!

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