Renting Property in Dubai
Every country has a different way of advertising their rental property. Dubai's just as quirky. Want to know what to look out for?
The following information relates to long term (one year or more) rentals. A one year contract is the norm in Dubai and the tenancy contract must be registered with Ejari. Most rental properties are unfurnished, although a few may have kitchen white goods, e.g. stove/cooker, washing machine and fridge/freezer.
There are thousands of properties advertised on the market at any moment in time but where do you find the right property in the right location? How do you make sure you’re renting a property which actually exists? Renting property in Dubai can be fraught with difficulties but let’s hope some of this information helps you.
Before you even view properties where do you start?
Obviously, the rental rate, location and number of bedrooms are very important but then there are the little things which may be a deciding factor, e.g. is there a balcony, are the kitchen white goods included, how close is the building to the metro or public transport, on which floor is the flat located, is there a park nearby etc. What’s important to one person will not be important to another. Some buildings are now completely non-smoking, so prepare e a list of questions you would like answered, ready for the real estate agent. Please remember that not all estate agents are fully knowledgeable about the property so do your own research on the internet or by talking to friends and colleagues.
If you’ve been in Dubai for a few years you will know the ins and outs of finding a suitable property but here are the ‘heads up’ for those of us who haven’t done this before.
You have these options: find a decent real estate agent who is properly registered, find a friend, find a friend of a friend, ask the security on duty at the property (they’ll be able to tell you the name of at least one agent or put you in contact with the developer), through the various developers’ websites or through the property websites (but be warned, don’t believe everything you see on these sites). If you’re lucky enough to have a good relocation agent then they’re going to do all the leg work and will work with reputable property brokers but make sure you give them an exact brief. A good relocation agent will take time to discuss your requirements in full and understand the market and the city fully.
Changes to the regulations about advertising properties came into being a good few years ago, but there are still properties being marketed which may not even be on the market. The downside to a number of Dubai property websites is that there are a number of properties which have either already been rented out (yes, really) and/or have not been removed for whatever reason, or are basically ‘hooks’ for you to make that call and be sucked into the agents’ sales talk.
Documents you should ask for include: title deed, passport copy of owner/landlord, landlord’s visa and Emirates ID if he/she lives in the UAE. Check these documents against each other. For example, the signature on the passport should match the signature on the tenancy contract and the name on the passport should match the name on the title deed.
Real estate agents should have all the necessary documentation when advertising a property as any agreement with the owner would require certain documents, e.g. title deed and passport copy of owner. That’s on the good websites. The others appear to be a bit more creative! Do your homework.
Double check the broker’s office and the broker. They will have a broker’s card showing that they can work with sales and/or rentals. You can look here and check out their credentials. If they do not have a broker’s card – simple – don’t use them. You would have little or no comeback if there was a problem. Today, there are 4,557 brokers in Dubai.. The broker’s name, photo and contact email address are listed on the website.
You can also check if the broker’s office is legitimate by using another filter listing. There are 1,262 as of today’s date – 30 September 2020. The filter is on the right hand side. Be scrupulous in your research!
Remember you should never get a cold call from a real estate agent.
Don’t imagine for one minute that all agents will respond to your phone calls. We called 6 agents on one particular website who were advertising a one bed property (going by the images the same property was not being advertised by the 6 different agents) in the Downtown area of Dubai. No-one answered. We then sent the same 6 a text message. One responded. So expect the unexpected!
The Dubai Land Department is continually working and updating policies and ways to tidy up the real estate industry in relation to real estate brokers but they still have a long way to go. Do not use agents who are not registered. Always ask for their broker card. If you have any queries contact RERA or the Land Department – they’ll try to help you. If you’re really stuck send us an email and we’ll find a decent agent to answer your query.
There are a lot of unregistered agents looking to separate you from your cash!
Dubizzle are marketing over 55,000 apartments as of 17th March 2015, today (30th September 2020) there are 68,545, but there is no way of telling which are still available. So marketing still needs to see a clean-up campaign. On Gumtree, (not in Dubai) the advertiser is reminded by email to renew the advert if the property or whatever is being advertised is still available. If Gumtree do not receive a response to the email alert, the advertiser’s advert is deleted. The advertiser has the opportunity to renew the advert if the property hasn’t been let or if the item hasn’t been sold. At least, this gives some kind of control and you tend to find that most adverts are up-to-date. Perhaps this system will be implemented here in the future.
Propertyfinder started it’s Dubai life in about 2007 and it’s grown to be a very successful property website and relatively easy to navigate. You should look out for little quirks in the address search. For example, Motor City exists but not Dubai Motor City but then there’s Dubai Sports City and not just Sports City. So, don’t give up if you don’t see the area listed just try with different sections of the names.
We cannot stress enough the importance of double checking everything you see and hear. Never send money to anyone through any website. Always meet the recipient first and double check their credentials. Never give money to anyone until you’ve checked all the paperwork relating to the property or any other deal. There are ways to check the paperwork – we will be publishing a guide within the next couple of weeks to help you. In essence though you should have a copy of the landlord’s passport, the name on the passport should be the same as on the title deed. Cheques should be made out to the landlord and remember to cross the cheque (2 parallel lines in the left hand corner of the cheque will suffice).
If the agent is acting on behalf of the landlord, the agent must have a Power of Attorney from the landlord. Make sure you get a copy of the broker’s card before you hand over any money.
Now, back to the property photographs.
We would love to give examples but wouldn’t like to upset the agents or the property owners! Here’s a list of some of the things to check when looking at images of properties.
- The agents try to ensure other agents/individuals/companies do not use their images by spraying them with their logo. This is sometimes detrimental to the image itself and means that it can be difficult to actually ‘see’ the image properly. Always look very carefully.
- Some images do not show the flat which is being advertised. Always ask the agent if the images are of the flat you are going to view. Obviously, they don’t have to tell you the truth and may make up excuses ‘it’s very like the flat we’re going to show you’ etc.
- Some images do not show the exact external view, e.g. the agent has used images from a different property. For example, the image may show a sea view but in essence the view is between two buildings. A view between two buildings (regardless of the actual space between the buildings) is known a a partial sea view and by partial they mean tiny! Always, double check with the agent especially if this is an important aspect to you.
- Some images show a vastly different external view, sometimes not even taken in the same location!
- If an image shows a sandy area right next to the building you can guess that construction will take place soon enough. You will no doubt be told by the agent that either they don’t know or that ‘maybe in a year or more’. It is unlikely that they know. Unless you enjoy the constant noise of construction try to steer clear of buildings with sandy areas close by. The usual line is ‘in Dubai you’re always next to a building site’ is incorrect. There is a great deal of construction going on but there are plenty of areas where there is little or no construction.
- If you like living with your neighbour being able to see into your flat (without the use of binoculars!) always look at the images carefully to see what’s outside. If there is nothing which gives you an outside view always double check with the agent before you visit. Otherwise it’ll be a waste of time.
- Scour the images for any damage to the property, loose wires, hallways outside the flat which are unkempt or dirty, washing hanging in the hallway, dirty doorways. In fact, if you think about walking through the image ask yourself lots of questions.
- Would you be happy here?
- Don’t waste your time going to properties which do not fulfil your criteria. You will get fed up and the agent will not be overly happy 🙁
Of course, this sorry tale doesn’t mean that all agents aren’t great at their jobs just that some spoil it for the rest of them. As the consumer, please always check the company or the broker’s card (soon to be linked with the Emirates ID card), don’t use unregistered brokers and make sure your hard earned money is going to the real property owner. If you are paying to an agent then the agent should have a signed letter from the owner including all the details and stating that the property agency can collect rent on his/her behalf. The signature on the letter should correspond with the passport signature and the Title Deed should also be mentioned. Remember that the name on the Title Deed should be the same as the passport.
Good agents, properly registered would be happy with your support. Bad agents, unregistered, can make a good agent’s life a misery. Having said that a bad, registered agent could make your life a misery too 🙁
The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only. Readers are encouraged to seek appropriate independent legal advice.
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