Property in Dubai is rented in fixed-term contracts, meaning tenants cannot break a contract or have a rolling lease, during which they are able to leave at any time they want. With fixed-term contracts, they are obligated to stay in the accommodation for the term of the lease. This is typically one year from the start date, but you will need to read the document carefully in case the landlord has stipulated something different.
When you want to leave the property, you are legally obliged to give notice to your landlord. Otherwise, if you move to another property, you might find yourself legally bound by two separate property owners. Check what the period of notice is and make sure you stick to it when moving out.
For you to be able to rent an apartment in Dubai, you need to have a valid residence visa. Therefore, if you are still awaiting your visa to come through, you’ll need to look up alternative accommodation options till it has been processed.
Similarly, it is important that you check your agent and landlord are official too. All agents need to be approved through the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) and you can tell this by asking to see their RERA card. It is illegal to be a freelance agent in Dubai, so make sure they are certified with this body and that they are registered on the land department website.
When you see the contract, it is also important to make sure it is registered with Eljari.ae; otherwise, it is not official. Before signing anything, look at the title deed from the landlord, so you can be sure they actually own the property they are letting out. Reading thoroughly over the contract, ensure it includes a clause about what happens if the lease is broken, who is liable for what, the maintenance responsibility of both the landlord and tenant, and details about insurance and parking.
Paying for rental accommodation in Dubai may be very different to what you’re used to. For a start you have to pay a deposit to secure the property; this is typically 5% of the annual rent, and tenants are advised not to pay more than this as this is how much agents are charged in commission.
Instead of paying monthly for the rent, payments are typically given in three or four cheques spread throughout the year. These are often provided to the landlord at the beginning of the contract, with one of the cheques being current and three being postdated. The reason landlords take cheques instead of direct debits is that they act as security if the tenant breaks the contract.
In order to protect the tenant, residents should also ask for a copy of the cheques, so the landlord can’t dispute whether payment for the apartment has been given.
Before working out how much you will have to spend renting an apartment in Dubai, it is important to take into consideration what the bills will amount to. Some apartments charge a chiller fee, which is if there is an air-conditioning service in the building, with the cost being divided between each flat. You might find some landlords cover this fee, while others make their tenants pay.
For electricity and water, you will have to pay the Dubai Electric and Water Authority (DEWA). All apartments need to be connected with the DEWA, with the organization charging tenants with a tax, as well as for the amount of water and electricity they use. Residents pay 5% of their total rent for the year, with this being divided in monthly payments that can be paid at a number of places, including online.
In addition to this, it is important to find out what companies service the TV, internet, phone line and gas for the apartment building, so you can determine what you can expect to pay in charges.