Short-term rentals gain popularity in Dubai

Emirate continues to attract millions of visitors each year

By Louis Harding/Realty Bytes

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Published: Mon 11 Dec 2023, 6:34 PM

Last updated: Mon 11 Dec 2023, 7:42 PM

What rental demand trends have you observed over the past few years — is short-term gaining in popularity in Dubai?

Short-term rentals have been gaining popularity since the pandemic. The emirate’s effective management of the pandemic not only heightened its international acclaim but also enticed professionals and entrepreneurs seeking a vibrant city for remote work, resulting in a considerable rise in the demand for short-term rentals by expats. Dubai also continues to attract millions of visitors each year, bolstering demand from holidaymakers and business travellers seeking a flexible accommodation option.

What types of properties (size, location, amenities) are best suited to short-term rentals vs long-term rentals?

Short-Term Rentals:

Apartments and Studios: Ideal for solo travellers or couples looking for a convenient and cost-effective stay.

Villas and Townhouses: Suitable for larger groups or families seeking a more spacious and private experience.

Location:

City centre: Apartments near popular attractions or business districts for tourists and business travellers.

Coastal areas: Beachfront or marina properties for those seeking a leisure-oriented stay.

Entertainment districts: Proximity to entertainment venues, restaurants, and nightlife for a vibrant experience.

Amenities:

Wi-Fi and smart home features: Essential for tech-savvy travellers.

Swimming pool and gym: Attractive for guests looking for leisure and fitness facilities.

Fully equipped kitchen: Appeals to guests who prefer cooking their meals.

Long-Term Rentals:

Apartments and studios: Suitable for singles, young professionals, or couples.

Family-sized apartments and villas: Targeting families or those seeking more space.

Location:

Residential neighbourhoods: Areas with good schools, healthcare facilities, and family-friendly amenities.

Proximity to business hubs: For professionals looking for a convenient commute.

Amenities:

Parking facilities: Essential for long-term tenants who likely own or rent a vehicle.

Green spaces and play areas: Attractive for families with children.

Security features: A priority for residents seeking a secure living environment.

How much more maintenance/turnover is involved with short-term rentals vs long-term rentals? What tips do you have for maximising uptime?

Short-Term Rentals: May have higher operational costs due to regular cleaning, restocking amenities, and providing additional services. Demand more active marketing and management efforts to attract a steady stream of short-term guests.

Long-Term Rentals: Tend to have more stable operational costs since turnover is less frequent. Require less continuous marketing and management as long-term tenants typically stay for an extended period.

Louis Harding, Managing Director at Betterhomes
Louis Harding, Managing Director at Betterhomes

Are there certain neighbourhoods or new communities that seem particularly well-suited for the short-term rental market?

Waterfront neighbourhoods, like Dubai Marina and JBR, are very well suited to short-term rentals thanks to their amazing views, great amenities and proximity to the beach. Likewise, Downtown Dubai and Business Bay are very popular with residents and visitors alike thanks to their proximity to businesses, transportation links and amenities like the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall.

When does it generally make most financial sense for a landlord to choose one option over the other? In the current market, which is better? Which options offer better ROI? What are some key factors that landlords should consider when deciding between the two strategies?

Given the significant inflation in longer-term rental prices over the last circa two years, particularly in villa communities, the disparity in the ROI between long and short-term rentals has reduced significantly, making the decision-making for landlords when considering the two options more nuanced.

Short-term rentals offer more flexibility in terms of the property being available for personal use, but also create more potential points of friction given the consistent transactional element of the short-term market, a higher risk of void periods and the fact that there are many more moving parts as the properties are almost always offered furnished, including soft furnishing. When opting to rent on a short-term basis, it can be prudent to utilise an experienced management company, as they can assist with marketing, cleaning and managing bookings, but this will reduce the ROI. Tenants searching for such options also tend to require more amenities very close by and are therefore less flexible on locations versus a tenant who has a longer-term view.

While longer-term rental prices continue to be at a premium, I would advise landlords to make decisions between the two options based on their own personal circumstances, what they are looking to achieve and how often they want to be involved, rather than just the financials, as once all the factors are considered, the ROI between them can end up being very marginal.

Louis Harding, Managing Director at Betterhomes


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