Best guide to renting a house in Dubai

It doesn’t matter if you are planning on moving to Dubai or just moving homes, renting can be a difficult experience, especially if this is your first time. There are so many things that you have to do, and there’s also a lot of little things that you need to take care of so nothing goes wrong.

However, to help you through everything, we have compiled a guide with everything you need to know before moving or renting a house in Dubai. This will make the process easier, smoother and hassle-free

Hunting for a suitable home

Now, before moving, you need to take into consideration your requirements. You need to narrow down your options and decide what it is that you want. A few things you might want to consider are:

  • Should the house be furnished or un-furnished
  • What should be the neighbourhood like
  • What facilities you must need
  • What is your budget
  • How many rooms you want
  • Whether you want a villa or apartment

We suggest that you keep your choices no more than 10. If you will save too many options, you may find yourself unknowingly postponing your move. In Dubai, you rent a home through either a landlord or broker. There are many apps and websites to help you connect with these professionals.

Throughout your search, be sure to keep yourself updated with every new piece of property that is put up for rent.

Book a visit

Before visiting a place, jot down all the free hours you have throughout the week. You might need a few hours so you can visit these properties thoroughly without rushing the process.

You can also bring along a notepad or you can also use you phone, and write down all the things you need to look for in the new house.

Things to be careful about:

  • Naked or exposed wires
  • Deep, serious crack in floors and walls
  • Any strange, unfamiliar odor
  • Ask about water and electricity availability
  • Open and close the windows to ensure they’re functionality

Also be sure to look out for any excessively used fragrance, if you enter a place and smell a perfume or anything that has been overused, it could be because the owner is trying to hide a certain smell.

Paying visits

Visiting a property can get very awkward, especially if you are accompanied by an agent or someone else. But, make sure you don’t let this keep you from properly observing the entire place. Ask as many questions as you want, and look thoroughly. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Here are some questions you should ask about the building:

  • What are the building amenities
  • Is it soundproof? so the noise from the streets won’t bother you
  • Is there a concierge all the time
  • Do you get parking spots? And if yes, then how many
  • Is it pet-friendly

Here are questions you need to ask about the neighborhood:

  • Is it noisy
  • Is there any construction going on nearby
  • Is there any public transport
  • Any nearby pharmacies, laundry or supermarket

Renting a home

Okay, now, you’ve chosen your home. Now, it is time for you to make an offer and start negotiating. Usually, listings get rented at 5% to 8% lower than their listed price. We suggest that you start by making an offer that is at least 10% to 15% less than the listed price. But, be sure to name a reasonable price so that you are taken seriously by the landlord.

This will help to start negotiation between you and you landlord, and this way both of you can agree on a number that is suitable for both. Although it will be awkward, keep in mind you’re the tenant and there are many other options available in the market.

After an agreement is reached, pay the security deposit, which is 5% of the rent. Your agent will ask you for:

  • Copy of passport
  • Residence visa copy. If you don’t have residency, then you will need to supply an official document from your employer or sponsor, saying that your visa is getting processed.

Here are some things you can do to get your security deposit back when you move out:

  • Leave the furniture in a good condition
  • Finalize outstanding bills
  • Repair and repaint walls

Tenancy Contract

Before signing, make sure you have reviewed the contract and read all the terms. If you want to, you can also have a lawyer look at it for you. You can make changes in the contract through negotiation and add an addendum to the contract.

Since now you haven’t signed the contract, this is prime time for you to try and get those things from your wishlist. Remember that you won’t get everything you want.

Things you should look out for:

  • Does your house have a pool? If yes, then who is responsible for maintenance
  • Is the home ‘chiller free’? If so, you will not have to pay for air conditioning
  • Does your house have a garden? If yes, then what about landscaping?
  • Ask for an spotless service and pest control before moving in.

If you have identified stuff that needs repairing, be sure to get it done before moving in. Once you are done with the contract, sign it and meet with your agent to hand it over along with the agreed-upon post-dated checks. These post-dated checks are necessary, since landlords in the UAE usually expect you to pay rent through a specific number of checks to give them a sense of security. Some landlords might even accept online payment.

After the signatures are done, your agent will give you a receipt and a copy. You will get the keys and access card to the building later on as well.

Hidden costs to look out for

  • Fee of the agency: 5% of the first annual rent, paid upfront
  • Ejari fees: AED 230
  • Housing Fee: 5% of annual rents added to DEWA bills
  • Security deposit: 5% of the annual rent. It can also be refunded at the end of your tenancy.
  • DEWA deposit:
    Apartment
    Dh 2,000 (deposit, can be refunded at the end of your tenancy)
    Dh 110 (activation fee, non-refundable)
    Villa
    Dh 4,000 (deposit, can be refunded at the end of tenancy)
    Dh 110 (non-refundable, activation fee)
  • Chiller (AC or air-conditioner) deposit/gas deposit: can vary and depends on the provider, sometimes included in the rent

Ejari

If you don’t know what Ejari is, it is a contract registration service that maintains a smooth relationship between tenants and landlord. It also helps in solving disputes. All tenancy contracts in Dubai must be registered through the Ejari platform.

Ejari is a requirement before setting up Water and Electricity (DEWA). The fee of registration is AED 230. You will need the following documents to register:

  • Title deed (from the landlord)
  • Copy of tenant’s Emirates ID
  • Tenant and landlord’s passport copies
  • Original tenancy contract

Water and electricity (DEWA)

Now, it is time to set up your water and electricity for the new home. To do this, you must activate DEWA (Dubai Water & Electricity Authority).

For registration, you will need these things:

  • DEWA premise number
  • Passport copy of the landlord
  • Ejari number
  • Security deposit payment
  • Passport copy and Emirates ID of yours
  • Completely filled DEWA form (collected at DEWA)

DEWA fees: AED 110 plus VAT

Refundable DEWA deposit: AED 2000 for apartment, AED 4000 for villas

Move-in permit

At some occasions, you might be asked to obtain a move-in permit before moving in. You can find the form on the website of the developer. However, make sure your real estate agent or landlord if this is necessary and apply for the permit on time to avoid delays.

Communities that require a move-in permit are Dubai Marina, the Greens, Arabian Ranches and Emirates Hills.

To obtain a move-in permit, you need the following documents:

  • Passport copy / Emirates ID
  • Copy of the tenancy contract
  • Copy of the unit’s most recent service charge receipt (paid by the landlord)
  • Certificate of the completion of payment

Moving in

Once your move-in permit arrives, you are now all set to move into your new house. Here are a few moving companies that will help decrease the hassle of shifting:

  • Easytruck
  • E-movers
  • Trukker

We suggest that you hire your own cleaning crew and pest control so when you move in and feel comfortable in your house.

For cleaning services, here are a few good companies:

  • Helpling
  • Urban Company
  • JustMop

For pest control, here are a few good companies:

  • Boeker
  • ProShield Pest Control Services
  • Rentokil Pest Control

Living in your new house

Obligations of your landlord

As under Dubai law, your landlord has a couple of obligations. These are:

  • No changes to the premises or its services. If so, the landlord is liable for any damage caused, faults or shortages to the premises.
  • Maintenance of the premises is the landlord’s responsibility. Your landlord must also fix any faults or defects that will affect your right to occupation and quality of living.
  • The landlord cannot disconnect services or stop you from occupying the premises. If so, you can file a police report, in addition to filing a case with the Rental Dispute Settlement Centre (RDC).
  • On handover, the landlord must provide the area in a good condition.

Obligations of a tenant

As a tenant, you also have some obligations according to the law:

  • Pay the rent timely.
  • Return the premises in a good condition, with only reasonable wear and tear. Any dispute over the condition is decided by the Rental Dispute Settlement Centre if no agreement is reached.
  • Pay all fees and taxes due for utility authorities that benefit the premises, unless agreed otherwise.
  • Not remove any fixtures, unless agreed by both tenant and landlord.
  • Not assign the benefit to sublease the premises, without obtaining the landlord’s written consent
  • Pay the security deposit to guarantee or cover the condition of the premises at the end of the lease.
  • No changes, renovations or performing maintenance work without the permission of the landlord, and approval of the relevant authorities if needed.

Increase in rents

Your landlord cannot increase rent every year according to his own choice, Dubai has rent caps on the amount of rent that can be charged when renewing a lease.

Renewal rent caps are based on the rent you paid in the initial lease term, compared to the average similar rent of a unit (with the same number of bedrooms). This is determined by RERA Index.

If you’re paying:

  • 10% or less than the average similar rent – landlord can’t increase rent
  • 11% to 20% less than the average similar rent – landlord can increase rent up to 5%
  • 21% to 30% less than the average similar rent – landlord can increase rent up to 10%
  • 31% to 40% less than the average similar rent – landlord can increase rent up to 15%
  • Over 40% less than the average similar rent – landlord can increase rent up to 20%

Furthermore, a notice of rental increase may also be given to you 90 days before the expiration of the lease. If your landlord misses this deadline, they cannot increase rent.

Your landlord can send you the rental increase notice formally or informally with proof of receipt.

Evictions and Disputes

If you find yourself in the middle of a dispute, you can file a complaint with the RDSC (Rental Dispute Settlement Centre).

To file a complaint, you need these documents:

  • Your Emirates ID
  • Title deed
  • Passport and visa
  • Ejari certificate
  • Recent DEWA bill
  • Original tenancy contract
  • Passport copy of your landlord
  • Copies of cheques issued to your landlord or proof of payment if you paid through credit card or bank transfer
  • Copies of correspondence between you and the landlord relating to this matter

The cost of filing a complaint is 3.5% of the annual rent of the property. It must be a minimum of AED 500 and a maximum of AED 20,000. You will also need typing costs usually (approx. AED 210) and admin costs (approx. AED 110).

Once you are done filling out the application and claim form, the arbitration department will try to solve the issue within 15 days. If that is not possible, you can file a lawsuit through the Department of First Instance. This will be settled in 30 days.

If parties want to appeal, the Department of Appeal will issue a final verdict in 30 days (only on cases over AED 100,000, under certain conditions with a fee of 15% of the dispute amount).

Evictions

As a tenant, you have the right to renew your lease. Your landlord can only evict you with a 12-month notice for the following reason:

  • Landlord wants to sell the property
  • Landlord wishes to use the property for his own personal use or for first degree kin. The latter requires proof that the landlord has no other properties to live in
  • If the property requires a demolition or major renovation that cannot be completed with you living in the property. This requires a technical report from Dubai Municipality

If you aren’t paying rent, your landlord must give you a notice 30 days prior.

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