Renting guide for Dubai residents

How to rent in the city, plus contracts and rental scams Comments

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The great Dubai property boom of 2008 was followed by the Dubai property bust of 2009, when prices sank by up to 60 percent, cranes stopped turning and many of the city’s building projects were canned, stalled or fast-tracked from the drawing board to the waste bin. In the midst of this slowdown, property scandals and disputes became more common, and government authorities quickly moved to crack down on those looking to take advantage of the changing fortunes in the emirates. Fast forward to 2012 and the troubles have moved down the food chain, from developers and owners to tenants, and there have been a number of well-publicised rental scams in the past year.

Today, Better Homes, the city’s biggest real estate agency, estimates that the number of residents renting in Dubai is as high as 90 percent, meaning that rental laws affect nearly all of us. For this reason, Time Out has gathered a team of experts to address the key questions you should be asking before putting down your deposit, as well as what to do if your apartment isn’t up to scratch, how to cancel your contract and more.

Our panel

Vineet Kumar
Associate director at Asteco Property Management

Annetta Shaw
Head of residential at Better Homes

Mario Volpi
Head of residential sales and leasing at Cluttons

Priyesh Patel
Sales and brokerage division at Aston Pearl Real Estate

Signing the contract

You’ve found the apartment of your dreams. So how can you go about securing it quickly and efficiently, without the wool being pulled over your eyes?
Mario Volpi: Check the internet to see that the rent is reasonable (Editor's note: try - according to the Decree No 2 of 2011, the Index will provide a fair range reflecting an updated market analysis in Dubai) then make sure you see evidence of proof of ownership from the landlord, such as a title deed or original sales contract and passport copy. To secure the property, you’ll have to pay a five percent deposit to the landlord. Make sure you use a reputable Real Estate Regulatory Agency [RERA]-approved agent.

What questions should you ask the agent?
Priyesh Patel: Who is liable for the chiller [A/C] fees? Chiller fees are usually charged on properties that have a centralised A/C. Typically, it is the landlord who pays the chiller charges, but there are certain areas in Dubai where chiller fees are charged separately. (Editor's note: it is often the case that the cost of A/C connection is the responsibility of the landlord and the cost thereafter is the tenant responsibility.)

How can you spot a dodgy estate agent, and what steps can should you take to ensure they’re the real deal?
Annetta Shaw: The tenant should ask to see the agents’ business card, as well as their RERA card. This will show that the agent is a certified broker through RERA and is not a freelancer – freelancing is illegal. Check that they are registered on the land department website

How many cheques should you expect to give the landlord to cover your annual rent?
Vineet Kumar: At the end of the day, it’s down to the landlord how many cheques he requires. However, three to four cheques seems to be the market norm at the moment. (Note: if date is not specified or unable to determine, the rental value shall be paid on four equal installments).

What other fees should you watch out for?
MV: The agent commission is five percent of the annual rent. Make sure the deposit is no more than five percent.

What should you expect from a lawful contract?
VK: It should be an Ejari contract and contain all of the following points: lease break clause, maintenance responsibility, parking details, insurance and liability.

What other documents should you ask for?
PP: Request a copy of the landlord’s passport and title deed or proof of ownership copy. Also ask for a copy of the cheques issued to the landlord, with the landlord’s signature of receipt.

What are the landlord’s legal obligations?
PP: The maintenance charges are under the landlord’s account. It is the responsibility of the landlord to make sure that property is in liveable condition before he or she hands it over to the new tenant. (Editor's note: According to the law No. 26 of 2006 Article (16) it clearly states: Except when otherwise agreed, the landlord is obligated, during the tenancy period; to maintain the property and fix any defect that may affect the usage of the property.)

Quick tips…

• Check the price of rents in the area via RERA (, or compare levels on websites such as or

• Ensure the contract is registered with

• Most landlords ask for postdated cheques to cover a year’s rent. Three to four cheques currently seems be the market norm.

By Shane McGinley
Time Out Dubai,

User reviews:

Posted by: Karen on 04 Nov ' 13 at 05:56

I initially signed the rental agreement with an legitimate agent. Once the contract was signed, the agent handed over to the landlord. The agreement was signed without a maintenance agreement. When I approached the landlord about a maintenance contract I was told that I have to pay for the contract. Is this correct?

Posted by: roderick on 09 Jul ' 13 at 18:49

Many people rent directly from their landlords. You can get a standard lease contract from a typing centre. Make sure you register your lease in Ejari.

Here is more details about how you register the lease in Ejari:

Posted by: wamer on 19 May ' 13 at 10:00

Can I rent an apartment in Dubai directly from the landlord without using an agency??
what is the steps I should follow to make it legal??
also if the landlord is outside UAE , how can it work to rent it??

Posted by: Anna on 25 Nov ' 12 at 16:40

How a RERA card should look?

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