Properties for rent in Dubai – Accommodation search

Moving to a foreign country can be intimidating and finding the best place to rent can be daunting. Dubai’s expat population is constantly increasing and the demand for rental properties is high. Unfortunately for tenants, this has resulted in skyrocketing rents. Approximately half of UAE residents spend around 30% or more of their salary on accommodation expenses. Despite the costs, most expats, mainly in the United Arab Emirates for short-term work contracts, choose to lease rather than invest in the real estate market. Much to the relief of many looking to rent property in Dubai, the government has imposed legislation that any rent increase must not exceed 5% of the annual lease price. There are also several new real estate developments underway that should ease the pressure on the market in the near future.

Housing allowances are usually part of the expat package. Although in the past companies covered the bill for the full rental amount, the trend now is for expats to be allocated a certain percentage of the total annual cost of accommodation, with the rest being paid out of their salary. Other fees to consider when renting include a security deposit (refundable at the end of the lease if the landlord deems the rental to be in good condition), possible car parking fees, monthly utilities, municipal fees (generally 5% of the lease), and a 5% commission if using the services of a real estate agent. The owner covers the maintenance and repairs of the property. Tenants may not make changes to the structure of the property inside or out without permission from the owner.

The lease will often be drawn up between the landlord and the tenant’s company/sponsor. If an expat signs the lease, he must have a residence visa or at least a letter from his employer stating that the visa is in process. The normal length of a lease is one year. Unlike many countries where rent is paid monthly, in Dubai rent for the entire year is paid in advance, usually with 2-3 checks. For example, in the case of a semi-annual payment, the first 6 months of the lease are paid immediately with a current dated check, while the rest of the year is paid with a later dated check. (Short-term furnished monthly accommodation in Dubai is available, but often more expensive.) It is important to understand that once the lease is signed, the tenant is bound by the lease. To terminate the lease, the tenant would need the landlord’s permission. That being said, Dubai’s rental laws favor tenants. Landlords cannot force a tenant to move without a very good reason (such as wanting the property for their own personal use). Even if the lease is for only one year, as long as the tenants do not violate any aspect of the lease, the lease is presumed to be renewable. The Municipality has created a special section, the Dubai Rental Committee, to oversee any disputes between landlords and tenants.

After cost, location is probably the most important factor in determining where to rent. Dubai is bisected by the creek with Deira (or “Old Dubai”) on one side and “New Dubai” on the other. The decision of where to rent is based on factors including accessibility to work, schools, stores, and hospitals. Some of the most popular locations to rent include:

  • Garhoud – Located close to Dubai International Airport and offering affordable low-rise apartments and townhouses.
  • Mirdiff – A newer development consisting of apartments and villas, located just beyond the airport.
  • Bur Dubai – Located near Bur Juman Mall and offers reasonably priced apartments.
  • Downtown Deira: Reasonably priced low-rise apartments are readily available in this neighborhood, although if work or schools are located on the opposite side of the creek, traffic can be a nightmare.
  • Satwa – A well located area between Sheikh Zayed Road, Bur Dubai and Jumeirah, offering low-rise apartments and villas at reasonable prices. It is believed that zoning regulations will change for Satwa in the near future, allowing for the development of high-rise buildings.
  • Jumeirah / Umm Suqueim – Ideally located close to the beach, parks and schools, this is probably the most popular area for the European and local communities, offering luxury villas and townhouses.
  • New Dubai Developments: including The Greens, Arabian Ranches, The Lakes, The Meadows, Emirates Hills and Dubai Marina. Many offer gated, family-friendly communities with access to swimming pools and other recreational amenities.

Those looking for rental properties in Dubai can find extensive listings in local classifieds or directly from real estate developers such as Arenco Real Estate, Alpha Properties, Better Homes, Cluttons UAE or Century 21. The search for the perfect place to rent can be time consuming and can seem overwhelming. Understanding UAE rental laws, finding a trusted real estate agent, and researching the best possible locations are all part of making your Dubai apartment or villa search a success.

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