Your step-by-step guide to renting in Dubai

Your step-by-step guide to renting in Dubai
KT illustration by Santhosh Kumar

Dubai - If you're worried about getting duped or looking to protect your interests from greedy landlords and sketchy middlemen, here's a step-by-step guide to help you through the process.



by

Nilanjana Gupta

Published: Thu 29 Sep 2016, 1:35 PM

Last updated: Mon 28 May 2018, 1:46 PM

Imagine this. The rent you pay for a roof over your head goes through the roof. Then your landlord tells you he wants to increase the rent further up with no notice at all. What do you do?
Such have been the woes of British expat Toby Young and many professionals trying to make it in Dubai, the land of opportunities. 
"It all started in 2009 when I moved to a 3-bedroom apartment in Dubai Marina. One fine day I found that I was barred from using my building's parking facility and access cards. My landlord, who had failed to pay the service charge, assured that the problem would be resolved. After a few months and failed attempts to reach my landlord, I decided to report the issue to RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Agency)," said Mr. Young.
The verdict was in his favour. 
The rental rage didn't end there. He later moved into another apartment in Palm Jumeirah, where the landlord wanted to increase the rent without any notice, and another gave a notice of only 60 days, as opposed to the mandatory 90 days. 
All in all, in the seven years that he spent in Dubai, he brushed with his landlords THRICE. Each time he reported to RERA and won the case.
Luckily, Mr. Young was aware about his legal rights. However the majority of 'generation renters' in Dubai are not familiar with the tenancy laws in the UAE. And when it comes to battling it out legally, there's no place for the ignorant.  
For those of you worried about getting duped or looking to protect your interests from greedy landlords and sketchy middlemen, here's a step-by-step guide to help you through the process.

 
Steps to finding an apartment
Step 1. Search apartment listings in websites such as KT buzzon, dubizzle, propertyfinder.ae, JustProperty.com, bayut. You can limit the listings based on your needs such as number of rooms, areas, furnished/unfurnished, etc. The advertiser usually states the following clearly:

- Rental Amount
- Number of cheques over a rental year
- Security deposit (usually 5% of the rental amount)
- Furnished or unfurnished
- When can the unit be viewed
- Desired starting date
- Any other conditions
Step 2. Shortlist a few apartments that meet your requirement and call up the contact person mentioned in the listing, who will either be the agent or landlord. It's advisable to formulate a plan and narrow down your preferred locations three months in advance. Usually the landlord/agent is more likely to be interested in you if you're ready to move in within a month's time.  
Step 3. View the unit:
This is the obvious next step. Make sure you take note of the minute details when you visit (take photographs if required.)
A few points to keep in mind:
- Access to and from the metro station or bus stop, in case you don't drive
- Security
- Proximity to your workplace
- Noise in the area
- If possible interact with the neighbours to know if they face any challenges
- Facilities such as gym or swimming pool
- Parking facilities
Step 4. Making an offer
In case you decide to take the unit, you may want to negotiate on the rental amount. The most common way to go about this is to bargain on the number of cheques. Sometimes the landlord agrees to reduce the total rental amount if the number of cheques is reduced. 
Don't forget to clarify other specifics such as when the contract will start, its duration, and deposit amount.
Step 5. Reserve the property
If you want the landlord/agent to secure that unit for you, you will be asked to pay a refundable security deposit. It's usually 5% of the rental amount.
The cash or cheque is made payable to the landlord but is held by the agent until the deal has been finalised. Make sure that you are given a receipt for the deposit. If you later choose to back out from the deal, the agent will rightfully hand over the cheque to the landlord. 
At this point, you also need to provide the following to the agent:
- Your Passport
-  Residence visa copy (or an original letter from your sponsor/company stating that your visa is under process)
Step 6. Drafting the contract
The agent will then send the Tenancy Contract which will include all the information regarding the rental (including any special conditions agreed by both parties). Go through it thoroughly and suggest changes if necessary. For instance if you want the property to be repainted, make sure it's clearly stated. 
The contract must comply with the tenancy laws in Dubai.
Step 7. Signing the contract
After you're convinced about the contract, you may sign and submit, and hand over the rent cheques and the agency commission. Make sure you receive invoices for the same. 
The agent will then get the landlord to sign the contract, hand over the cheques to him (sign an acknowledgement receipt).
The landlord will keep one of the signed contracts and the other signed contract can be kept by the tenant. The tenant will be given the keys and access cards. The tenant will also sign a handover form clearly stating that he/she is receiving 'x' amount of keys, access cards, parking bay slots, etc.). 
Step 8. Connecting DEWA 
The tenant will need to submit the following documents to DEWA (Dubai Electricity & Water Authority):
- DEWA number (found on the side on the property's entrance)
- Copy of the tenant's and landlord's passport
- DEWA form
- Title deed (for freehold property or SPA if it has been bought from a reputable developer) or affection plan
- Dh2,000 (for apartments) or Dh4,000 (for villas) as a refundable deposit, and Dh110 for setup charges
Supply is activated within 24 hours of registration and payment of security deposit.
Online Procedure
1. Online Application Submission Fill-in the online application form with required information.
2. Mandatory required attachments are : Tenancy Agreement Passport with Valid Visa Page/Trade License. You will be required to pay Security Deposit online using ePay.  
(Info from DEWA website)
Step 9. Ejari Registration
The following documents are required:
- Original tenancy contract
- Original receipt of DEWA connection in the tenant's name
- Title deed (for freehold property or SPA if it has been bought from a reputable developer) or affection plan
- Copy of the tenant's and landlord's passport
- Copy of Emirates ID
Step 10. Move-in form
Some developers need the tenants to submit an NOC before they can move into the property. The following documents are required:
- EJARI Certificate 
- Passport and visa copy of the tenant
- Copy of the Tenancy Contract 
- Move-in form 
For instance, the security in the building could be such that they don't allow tenants to move in on Fridays. The tenant must raise these questions with the landlord before hand.
NOTE: The rents can have a fixed contract, which is usually one year, or no contract. In case the contract is for less than a year, it falls under short-term rental. The laws are governed by Dubai Tourism board.
(Inputs from veda.ae) 
Watch out for these 6 hidden costs
1. Agency fees: Usually 2 to 5% of the first annual rent 
2. Ejari fees: Dh195 for all types of properties
3. Housing fee: 5% of annual rents added to DEWA bills
4. Security deposit: Usually one month's rent, refundable
5. DEWA deposit:
Apartment
Dh2,000 (deposit - refund on leaving)
Dh110 (connection, non refundable)

Villa
Dh4,000 (deposit - refund on leaving)
Dh110 (connection, non refundable)
6. Chiller deposit/ gas deposit: Varies according to the provider
 
 10 things to remember before signing on the dotted line 
1. Ensure that your real estate agent is Rera registered. They should be able to provide you with their broker number.
2. Write your cheques directly to the landlord. Before handing them over, ask for a copy of your landlord's passport and if possible the title deeds too.
3. Ask your agent to check that all service charges have been paid by the landlord, and if possible get it in writing too.
4. Ask your agent to check that there are no outstanding bills for Dewa or the chiller (air conditioning). If there are, they will need to be paid before you can set up an account.
5. If there are maintenance issues that need to be resolved before you move in, ensure that they are taken care of.
6. Be aware of how many car parking spaces you have. It is not uncommon for there to be only one to share between a husband and wife. Also find out if there is visitors parking too, and how to access it.
7. Know how to access all parts of the building. Often, swipe cards and door keys are needed to enter your property.
8. If the property is not clean before you move in, ask for it to be cleaned in advance of you moving in. A property should be handed over in a habitable condition.
9. Take photos of any issues you find with the apartment and let your agent and landlord know. This will avoid issues when you try and prove they were there before.
10. Once you have your tenancy contract, sign up for Ejari.
(Inputs from propertyrights.ae)
 
How to know if your landlord can increase your rent?
You should keep a track of market conditions to know if the rents are likely to go up. In order to calculate your rental increase, you can check the rental increase calculator provided by Dubai Lands Department. Visit this page, enter your contract expiry date, area, property type, no. of bedrooms and your current annual rent, and you will know if your landlord can increase your rent.
According to propertyfinder.ae, the average/similar rent value of a property should be determined by the 'Rent Index of the Emirate of Dubai' approved by RERA. This index is updated every quarter, so visit the RERA site to determine the average rent for your property. 
Also read: Rent up again? Check Rera calculator
 
The most popular areas in 2016
Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) have emerged as the most preferred areas to live in, going by the percentage of people moving into these precincts in the first two quarters of 2016. The areas topped the 'moving in' list last year as well, according to Movesouq, a home services portal in the UAE and Qatar. 
Here's the 2016 list of areas experiencing the highest inflow of residents:
1) Dubai Marina/Jumeirah Beach Residence: 12.8%
2) Dubailand: 7.3%
3) Downtown/DIFC/Business Bay: 6.4%
4) Jumeirah Village/ Jumeirah Village Circle/ Jumeirah Village Triangle: 6.3%
5) Jumeirah/Al Wasl/Umm Suqeim: 6.2%
6) Dubai Sports City/Motor City: 5.0%
7) Jumeirah Lake Towers: 4.4%
8) Silicon Oasis: 4.3%
9) Jebel Ali/ Jebel Ali Village/Discovery Gardens/The Gardens: 4.0%
10) Emirates Hills/Lakes/Meadows/Springs: 3.8%
(Click on the image to enlarge)

Most common mistake by tenants
According to propertyrights.ae, the most common mistake that tenants make is when they spot something faulty in the apartment, they report to the landlord on the phone. They should always point those things out in an email, in order to retain written evidence. 
 
Also read: 
Cheapest and most expensive rents in Dubai
When tenants act as landlords in Dubai
Is sub-leasing legal in Dubai?
Experts claim that if it is done with the landlord's approval, it can pass muster.
The practice is more prevalent in leasehold Dubai in areas such as Deira, Karama and Bur Dubai. Although sub-leasing does exist in freehold Dubai, strict monitoring in gated communities has clamped down on the practice.
Sub-letting is not illegal if done with landlord approval as is shared accommodation for people of the same sex. Sharing between unmarried/unrelated people of different sexes is illegal, experts claim.

Standard tenancy contracts have explicit clauses that prohibit sub-leasing. It is usually worded as: "Tenant undertakes not to transfer the subject of tenancy to anyone else under any circumstances."
Article 24 of Law 26 of 2007 under Real Estate Regulatory Authority regulations stipulates that: "Unless otherwise agreed in the contract, the tenant shall not assign the benefit or sub-lease the property without obtaining the landlord's approval."
However, some cases are treated as an exception by landlords. In some cases, even if the tenant obtains the landlord's approval to sub-lease the unit, community or building rules may not permit it.
(Inputs from Deepthi Nair)
 

 

KNOW THE LAW
If you are not renewing your tenancy contract in UAE inform the landlord in writing 90 days prior to the expiry of the contract
My rental contract finished on February 4, and I informed them on January 2 that I will not renew my contract. But now the landlord is refusing to refund my deposit and claiming that I did not give one month's notice.
I signed the paper with them on January 2. They are insisting that they will deduct my deposit of Dh2,000 without any reason. An individual I know in the building office told me that he knows the landlord and I signed the notice over one month ago, but the landlord would not accept it. What legal recourse do I have?
It is understood that your rental contract expired on February 4 and you had informed your landlord in writing on January 2 that you are not willing to renew the tenancy contract. Your landlord is refusing to refund your deposit and is claiming that you have not given one-month notice period in accordance with the terms of the tenancy contract regarding non-renewal of tenancy contract.
Based on your question, we assume that the subject rented premises is within the Emirate of Dubai. It is the responsibility of the tenant to inform the landlord in writing at least 90 days prior to expiry date of the tenancy contract stating that he is not willing to renew the tenancy contract. Article 13 and Article 14 of the Law No. 33 of 2008 regarding 'Amending some provisions of Law No. 26 of 2007 Regulating Relationship Between Landlords & Tenants in the Emirate of Dubai' (the "Rental Law") states the provisions regarding renewing a tenancy contract.
Article 13 of the Rental Law states that "For the purpose of renewing tenancy contract, landlord and tenant upon expiry of the tenancy contract may amend any of the contract terms or review the rent whether by increase or decrease. If the parties do not reach an agreement regarding this, the Committee may decide fair rent considering the standards referred to in Article No. 9 of this Law."
Further, Article 14 of the aforementioned Law reads: "If either party of tenancy contract wishes to amend any of its conditions pursuant to Article 13 of this law, then he must notify the same to the other party not less than 90 days prior to expiry date, unless both parties agreed otherwise." Therefore the aforementioned clause may be interpreted, as one party shall notify the other party not less than 90 days prior to expiry date of contract regarding non-renewal of tenancy contract. It is evident that you have complied with one month notice if your contract states so. However you have not provided the landlord 90 days' notice.
In case, the landlord refused to refund the security deposit or accept your notice you may consider to approach Rental Dispute Committee at the Land Department of the Emirate of Dubai. Pursuant to the same, the competent forum at the Land Department may take a final call on the dispute between you and your landlord.
 
Other useful links



Dubai Land Department
 
 

Ejari
 

 
 
Share your thoughts, email nilanjana@khaleejtimes.com


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