Recently moved to Dubai? Or looking to move apartment? Read on. Rent is something that will likely affect everyone at some point in their lives.
Whether you’re after a short-term flat-share in a city-centre apartment or a long-term family home in a villa in the suburbs – there’ll be a property with your name on it. And it doesn’t have to be as complicated or expensive as you might believe.
Unusually, the UAE is a both a buyer’s and a renter’s market currently – which is positive news whichever way you look at it. And if you’re looking to move, now could be the ideal time, with prices more affordable than ever across the emirates. We’ve spoken to experts from top property firms across the UAE to get the lowdown on the cheapest areas to live.
*The shape of the UAE rent market*
First things first, the good news is that it’s a great time to be renting in the UAE – with prices becoming more affordable.
dubizzle Property has more than 130,000 live listings at any given time and receives almost 100,000 daily visits. And recent data shows that more than 80 percent of people are currently renting the properties they live in with 70 percentage living in apartments.
And there’s more housing to come, which might make things even more affordable. Nearly 29,500 homes will be created in Dubai this year, with nearly 17,000 already built, according to Core Research.
Currently, most people are seeing a positive impact on their wallets.
“Ask someone who has been renting in the UAE for more than a year, and you’ll probably find out their rents have dropped,” Swapnil Pillai, Associate, Research Middle East at Savills tells Time Out Dubai. “There are a few examples like Yas Island and Al Ghadeer in Abu Dhabi where rents have remained more stable, but generally rents have dropped over the past 12 months by somewhere between five to ten percent. And for those with rental renewals coming up, it’s worth thinking about whether you can negotiate a better price or even look at upgrading to a bigger property with more space.”
According to Data Finder, a real estate insights and data platform under the Property Finder Group, there has been a -21 percent decline in rental prices for apartments in Dubai over the past 24 months and -13.8 percent decline for villas and townhouses.
“Renters have enjoyed the shift in rental prices,” says Anna Lucas from Property Finder.
“We saw a migration of families who have moved from more established areas such as Dubai Marina to the suburbs of Dubai such as JVC and Dubailand, where they could get a much bigger unit or villa for the same price or even less of what they were paying.
“We also saw many upgrade to bigger properties and take up offers such as 12 cheques, free chiller and free months. The shift in prices has made more affordable to live in Dubai.”
And with the worst anyone can say being “no”, it’s always worth negotiating your rent in Dubai – you never know the savings you could make.
“Rents in Dubai have reduced over the past year and as a renter it makes sense to compare your apartment or villa to similar properties to see if you are overpaying,” Pillai says. “Then it’s worth having a chat with your landlord to see if you can come to a better price.”
There are also options including split payments between tenants or all-inclusive rent – which may include chiller and other chargers, so make sure you’re looking into all the possibilities.
Anna Lucas from Property Finder agrees. “Always do your homework first and find out how much places are renting for,” she says. “On Property Finder, we have a section called House Prices which will give you asking and transaction price data for all the communities in Dubai. Next, negotiate. There are so many choices out there – multiple cheques, furnishing options, free chiller/DEWA, free months and more.”
According to stats from Cavendish Maxwell average apartment prices in Dubai declined 16.5 percent in Q3 2019 from Q3 2018, and villa/townhouse prices declined by 15 percent during the same period. Rental declines for apartments in Dubai averaged 15 percent and rents for villas townhouses similarly fell 12 percent in Q3 2019 from a year ago.
“Tenants are well-positioned to ask for more from landlords who are seeing rising vacancy levels,” says Aditi Hariharan, Senior Consultant, Strategic Consulting and Research, Cavendish Maxwell.
*Where to find great value property – right now*
There are heaps of options in Dubai when it comes to moving home and renting a new property, so it’s important to research it carefully.
“There are some great deals but wherever you choose should fit with your lifestyle,” adds Savills’ Swapni Pillai. “I’d recommend scoping out the areas in Dubai for things you want to be close to – that could be schools, shops, hospitals, entertainment, or even just somewhere near to where you work.
Find an advisor you trust too, from family and friends through to specialists.
“It is worth a few hours of your time doing your research to have peace of mind in the long run. And, if you have a bit of cash set aside, think about whether you might want to make the plunge and buy somewhere. There are currently places on the market where a deposit cheque to own your own property costs less than a year’s rent.”
When thinking about an apartment or house, it’s wise to visit during different times of the day to see traffic flow, noise and who your neighbours would be.
And if you’re after an upgrade, there are loads of fantastic areas to live in at a more affordable price than before.
According to rental transaction data from Data Finder, for apartments you can now rent a one bedroom in Dubai’s Damac Hills for Dhs50,000 and a studio for Dhs34,000 and with multiple cheques.
In Dubai Silicon Oasis you can rent a one bedroom apartment for Dhs41,000 and a studio for Dhs29,000.
If you want to have something bigger, you can rent a three bedroom townhouse in Town Square for Dhs90,000 or in Jebel Ali a two-bedroom townhouse for Dhs60,000. Always wanted to live in Arabian Ranches? Well you can now rent a two-bedroom townhouse for Dhs87,000 and a three-bedroom for Dhs125,000.
“It's a great time to get an awesome deal on that building or area you always wanted to live in,” says Anna Lucas.
For affordable renting in Dubai, Property Finder also suggests looking at areas including Dubai South, International City, Dubai Production City (IMPZ), Discovery Gardens and Arjan for apartments and for villas in International City, Jebel Ali, Town Square, Al Furjan and JVC.
More expensive areas include Palm Jumeriah, World Trade Center, City Walk, Green Community (DIP) and Dubai Festival City, Emirates Hills, Jumeirah Golf Estates and Meydan.
*Registering for your Ejari*
Ejari, which means “my rent” in Arabic, is a compulsory system governed by RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Agency) that ensures all contracts between tenants and landlords are government-approved and regulated. It also aims to legally protect everyone in involved, help prevent any disputes and is needed to open a DEWA account for water and electricity. It’s usually the tenant’s responsibility to register for Ejari and pay the Dhs220 fee and there are various centres around Dubai.
You will need the original signed tenancy contract, a copy of the tenant’s passport, visa and Emirates ID, a copy of the landlord’s passport and the title deed, the security deposit receipt, and a copy of the previous or current DEWA bill with the premises numbers.
Locations include Al Barsha Mall and Al Manara Center Dubai Municipality. Opening timings vary, www.ejari.gov.ae.
*Sorting out your insurance*
Do you know how much your laptop is worth? How about that pair of earrings your granny left you? Surprising as it may seem, insurance is frequently neglected in the UAE.
It’s not expensive compared to the cost of refurnishing your entire home if worst comes to worst, and it means you can relax in the knowledge that your property is fully protected. You also need to evaluate your belongings accurately – they might be worth more than you think. And when most contents insurance costs less that Dhs500 a year, it’s not worth taking a risk.
The good news for rental tenants is that their home is likely to be insured by the landlord, but be warned – that policy probably only covers the physical aspects of the apartment or villa (for example, damage to the building itself). It won’t cover your belongings, so it’s important to take out your own additional coverage for maximum protection.
It might come as a surprise, but a 2018 survey by Yallacompare revealed that nearly 70 percent of UAE residents don’t have home contents insurance, with many saying they’re willing to “take a chance” rather than insure their home.
And this is despite the fact that 84.5 percent of UAE residents admit in the survey that they would feel more comfortable in the knowledge that their belongings are covered by home insurance when they travel.
“The home insurance market in the UAE is relatively small when compared to the country’s entire insurance market,” says Jonathan Rawling, chief financial officer of Yallacompare.
“A survey we conducted found that 69.1 per cent of UAE residents are not covered by home insurance. We suspect that the ‘real’ number of those not covered is higher – there are a number of misconceptions around what is covered.
“According to our survey, 35 per cent of respondents said that they don’t see the point in home insurance at all – so there’s certainly an element of UAE residents not seeing the benefits that a home insurance policy would offer.”
There are three main types of policy, apartment block, building and home contents insurance. The latter is the one that should be taken out by the tenant to cover against fire, theft and damage.
Under home contents policies, tenants generally also benefit from alternative accommodation cover (payment for somewhere else to live if the rented property becomes uninhabitable) and cover to protect against liability to the landlord for any damage.
Meanwhile a dubizzle Property poll stated that more than 93 percent of the 1,458 people it surveyed are not interested in purchasing home insurance, while only 30 percent knew what it covers. And almost a quarter of people (24 percent), including both tenants and landlords, believe insurance is the landlord’s responsibility.
“It is important for those moving home to consider what’s next when they find their ideal property in case any complications arise – whether an unexpected leak damages their new TV or they lose a valuable possession while exploring the area. Home insurance should be considered as the next step in the home-seeking journey in the UAE as it can protect residents from potential losses in the future,” said Matthew Gregory, Director of Sales, dubizzle Property.
Nineteen percent stated that home insurance is “too expensive”, while other factors include not seeing the benefit of owning it (17 percent), not knowing how to buy it (nine percent) and not trusting insurance companies (eight percent).
“The region’s low penetration of home insurance is largely a result of lack of awareness coupled with misconceptions around affordability and coverage policies. As such, clarifying what home and home content insurance are and what they cover is an essential first step. Affordability should also not be a concern, as home insurance can cost as low as Dhs21 per month. While people in the region generally adopt an ‘it won’t happen to me mentality’, they are exposing themselves to larger potential damages as opposed to taking pre-emptive measures,” commented David Harris, Director of Distribution at RSA Insurance.
Despite the UAE being a safe country to live in, it’s still not worth taking and risks when it comes to your stuff.
Decided on the area in Dubai you want to live in and the price you want to pay? There’s no time like the present to start negotiations.
For your essential to moving to Dubai and living in Dubai, click here.
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