It plays a part in almost every Dubai resident’s life, we’re happy when it eases up and for the most part it only comes around once a year.
No, not the sweltering summer temperature. We’re talking about rent – the other hot topic across the city.
As the city prepares to welcome swathes of new expats, and with Expo 2020 looming on the horizon, rent is becoming more affordable.
Areas ranging from Dubai Sports City to the popular Palm Jumeirah are experiencing some of their most attractive prices all year, meaning it’s the perfect time to consider upping sticks and finding a new place to live.
So whether you’re renegotiating your current contract, looking to try out a new area or just want a bit more bang for your buck, read on for Time Out Dubai’s ultimate guide to renting in the city.
We’ve spoken to experts from top property firms across the UAE to get the lowdown on the cheapest areas to live and what they expect will happen to prices next.
And if you’re looking to avoid any paperwork problems while finding the perfect pad, we can help with that too.
Our estate agency insiders reveal the top tips for moving into a new place, and how you can make sure everything goes smoothly.
We’ve covered a few common scenarios that you might run into as well, and what to do in the unlikely event of a dispute with
It really is the ultimate guide to renting – but we want to hear your stories too. Maybe you’ve found an area with unexpectedly low prices, or have some top tips to share with other readers? Email us on email@example.com, and we’ll be pulling together the best reader advice in an article on our website.
The shape of the Dubai MARKET 2018
According to PropertyFinder.ae’s August trends report, rents in Dubai have become 5.8 percent more affordable in the past six months and reduced by a cash-saving 18.2 percent over the past two years.
Among estate agents, the sentiment has been that prices are close to the end of their cycle and will increase in the lead-up to Expo 2020.
Right now, the best deals for renters can be found in Jumeirah Village Triangle, where median asking rents have reduced by 8.9 percent because of a rise in similar mid-range projects across the city.
Nick Grassick, managing director of PH Real Estate, tells Time Out Dubai: “Tenants are generally perceived to hold a stronger negotiating position, but this is not the case in all locations.
“Home values are holding in very specific, very popular communities.
“All indicators suggest a continuing softening of rental values.
“Some tenants are taking advantage of lower prices to enjoy a larger home or more prestigious address, while others are enjoying the savings associated with cheaper rents.”
Where to find great value right now.
Popular areas like Downtown Dubai are now opening up to more renters’ budgets, having become 14.1 percent more affordable over the past two years, so your dream apartment with a view of the Burj Khalifa might not be far out of reach. However, it’ll still ultimately cost you Dhs110 per square foot on average, compared to Dhs42 in Al Nahda, which is the cheapest community in which you can rent an apartment in Dubai.
Meanwhile, villa rental prices have remained relatively static, with some areas witnessing a price increase. The popularity of the affordable and family-friendly area Jumeirah Village Circle – with its proximity to Dubai Marina, Internet City and JLT –
has seen an uptick in prices of 5.9 percent to Dhs39 per square foot in the past six months (although year-on-year prices are lower by 11.4 percent).
Branding the area a “sound investment option”, analysts at property portal Bayut.com say: “Jumeirah Village Circle attracts an equal mix of families, young couples and singles.
“Expat families in the emirate appear to be particularly fond of living here thanks to the area’s abundance of schools, parks and fitness centres.
“The area is also extremely popular among real estate investors thanks to the lucrative pricing and the high rental yields from the area.
“The many off-plan projects are another reason for the high investor interest in the locality.”
Other areas that witnessed price increases include Al Reem (1.9 percent), Jumeirah Golf Estates (3.7 percent), Dubai Sports City (1.8 percent) and Mudon (2.4 percent).
However, villa renters will be pleased to hear that there are some great bargains to be found for larger properties. Palm Jumeirah rental asking prices are now 11.1 percent cheaper, and 10.5 percent cheaper at The Villa.
It’s a renters’ market, say experts
Abdul Kadir Faizal, chief executive of digital real-estate platform Smart Crowd, says it is “one of the best times” for tenants to renegotiate rent renewals or explore new options in the market.
He tells Time Out Dubai: “As the oil prices recover and infrastructure investments starts to kick in as we get closer to Expo 2020, we see that the declines have softened slightly compared to previous years and expect a bottoming out very soon.
“The UAE property market has slowed down and we are witnessing end users taking much more time in the purchasing process due to the many options available.
“With regards to investors, most are on the sideline due to anticipation of prices falling further.”
He adds: “The tenant is in a greater position in negotiating as increasing stock levels provide ample opportunities for negotiating the best deal on the base rent as well as the payment terms.
“The neighbourhoods with the best value for money today would be the locations such as Discovery Gardens, International City, and The Springs.
“I expect rental rates to continue to fall due to the new supply in the market, however I expect these declines to be minimal compared to previous years.”
But other estate agents are a preparing for price changes to halt imminently. Lewis Allsopp, the chief executive of Allsopp and Allsopp, is among them.
“Obviously nobody has a crystal ball, but I don’t see the prices dropping a lot more, it’s not feasible for landlords to keep decreasing prices.” Allsopp believes prices could even increase in the run up to Expo 2020, as an influx of new expats look for places to live.
“The advice I would give to tenants is to go with what you like, what you will enjoy living in and what fits your budget. If you move now, or stay for a year, if the rates do drop, you will still have opportunity at the end of the next year to move.”
But one thing is for certain – it’s the perfect time for Dubai tenants to explore what is increasingly a renters’ market.
Sort out your insurance early.
In all the excitement of moving in to your dream home, it can be easy to forget some things. However, one part that you’ll definitely want to remember is taking out insurance.
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.
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.
Comprehensive contents insurance is what you need to make sure that you’re fully covered against any fires, natural disasters or other incidents that affect your home.
According to a survey by price comparison website YallaCompare.com, just 11 percent of UAE consumers are subscribed to a home insurance policy.
Jonathan Rawling, the firm’s chief financial officer, says, “Our answer to those who think home insurance is too expensive would be that, actually, it’s a bargain compared to the alternative of losing all of your belongings and having to replace them yourself.”
Separate research carried out by YallaCompare found that it could cost as much as Dhs28,000 to refurnish a one-bedroom apartment in the UAE.
“That’s a lot compared to cost of the average home insurance policy sold on YallaCompare – about Dhs220,”
And if you’re not sure where to start, experts at PropertyFinder.ae have pulled together some top tips.
They advise checking the following things before signing your tenancy contract in the UAE:
Check for insurance clauses in the contract.
Make sure the landlord is not making you liable for any damages to the property, accidental or otherwise.
Calculate the total value of your expensive belongings.
Make sure your new apartment is safe for rent
Top tips for tenants in Dubai
According to Samer Abdin, general manager at dubizzle Property, the three most common issues that Dubai tenants face are rent increases, evictions and rent disputes.
He tells Time Out Dubai about what tenants in the UAE should do if they find themselves in a difficult situation with their landlord.
I rent a two-bedroom apartment on the Palm paying in 12 monthly cheques and my landlord has told me he’ll be increasing my rent by Dhs500 from next month. Is this allowed?
No, this is not allowed. Abdin says: “If your landlord was to increase your rent, the one thing you should know is that the landlord must send you a written notice at least 90 days before the expiry of your lease.”
I’ve been given a week to leave my villa with my family because my landlord wants to sell the property. What should I do?
Again, this is not allowed. Tenants can only be evicted for three reasons. Firstly, a breach of tenancy agreement or violation of the law, which requires a 30-day notice period. Secondly, if the landlord wants to sell the property, with 12 months notice. Or thirdly if the landlord wants to occupy the property themselves, which requires the same amount of warning. If the tenant refuses to move out, then the landlord can get a court judgement from the Rent Committee which is enforceable by the police.
Abdin explains: “When it comes to evictions, if your landlord wants to evict you from your property, make sure that he sends you at least twelve months in advance, a notice of eviction, either through a Notary Public or by registered mail.”
I’m in a rent dispute with my landlord. What should I do?
If you’re in a disagreement with your landlord over rent, it’s time to contact the Dubai Rental Dispute Settlement Committee. You’ll need original copies of your passport and visa as well as your Emirates ID and a variety of other documents. Check the Dubai Land Department website for more information.
The complaint will cost you too – a rental dispute comes in at 3.5 percent of the annual rent of the property, with a minimum value of Dhs500 and a cap of Dhs20,000. You’ll also need to have your documents translated which adds a couple of hundred more dirhams. Be warned, it can take many monthss to resolve rent disputes.
Abdin adds: “Make sure you obtain a copy of your Ejari contract, because should you get into a dispute with your landlord, you will need that Ejari contract to file a claim with the Rent Dispute Settlement Committee.”
In a few words...
Experts describe the 2018 UAE real estate market
Lewis Allsopp, CEO, Allsopp & Allsopp
“A place of opportunity for the educated buyer”
Myles Bush, CEO, PH Real Estate
“Exciting, dynamic and addictive”
Ryan Mahoney, CEO, Better Homes
“A good market for buyers and tenants, challenging market for sellers and landlords”
Luke Remington, Managing Director, Haus & Haus
“Ignore any negativity, because it is what you make it”
Alessia Sheglova, Managing Director, Dacha Real Estate
“Vibrant, competitive and full of opportunities”