As a multi-cultural hub of commercial activity, Dubai is a favourite amongst those looking for lucrative career opportunities and the ‘good’ life. With thousands of expats moving to Dubai and building new lives here, the vibrant city is positively bursting with residential properties to accommodate its growing population. So, if you are new to town and not sure where to start on finding your first home, we’ve got you covered! Here is a step-by-step guide for renting in Dubai for expats.
A Renting in Dubai guide for beginners
Whether you are looking for an apartment or villa for rent in Dubai, here is a list of everything you will need to do. This guide will ensure you have a smooth process when renting in Dubai.
Search & Shortlist Property Listings
The most important rule for renting in Dubai includes starting with a quick online search on Bayut.com to search for your perfect home from a multitude of Dubai rental property listings. This is the best website for finding a house in Dubai. Bayut.com will help you with all the necessary information for your home search in Dubai. These include but are not limited to:
- Annual rent of the property
- Number of cheques
- Location of the apartment or the villa for rent in Dubai
- Number of rooms
- Furnished or unfurnished
You may have a general idea of whether you want to an apartment or villa for rent in Dubai, what you can afford, how many rooms you need and the desired location. You can use Bayut.com to search for rental apartments and villas based on variables such as budget, property type, location and number of bedrooms to see only relevant listings.
If you are renting an apartment in Dubai you can take your pick from units ranging from studios to 3-beds, with some residential areas offering larger 4 and 5-bedroom. As for the houses for rent in Dubai, you can find units starting from 3-bedrooms going up to 5-bedrooms.
Review the information listed on the website and start shortlisting properties based on your specific criteria. Pick the ones that seem most appealing to you based on pictures, annual rent, amenities and location. Get in touch with the contact person (usually an agent or the landlord) and set up a visit to see your potential new home.
Visit The Property
Once you agree on a site visit with the agent, head out to the area and keep a list of factors to consider with you. Try to reach a little early and spend some time scanning the neighbourhood. Examine the property as thoroughly as you want and arrange a second visit at a different time to get a better idea of what it would be like to live there.
A few factors to consider when looking at property for rent in Dubai…
For the unit:
- Does the apartment or villa get enough natural light?
- Do you like the view?
- Are the rooms spacious enough?
- Are the fixtures and fittings in good condition?
- Do tenants get a designated parking spot?
- Is the building equipped with security measures such as cameras, security guard and an intercom?
- Are there any facilities such as gym and swimming pool?
For the neighbourhood:
- Is the neighbourhood noisy?
- Are there any construction sites nearby?
- Is it in close or manageable proximity to your workplace?
- Is it well-connected by public transport? (See apartments for rent near Dubai metro stations)
- Are there any community areas, supermarkets, laundry services, and pharmacies nearby?
- Is it family-friendly? (See best places to rent in Dubai for families)
- For pet-owners, find out if pets are allowed and if the neighbourhood is pet-friendly and/or in close proximity to these pet-friendly places in Dubai
- What is the parking situation around the neighbourhood?
If you happen to pass by existing tenants when finding a house in Dubai, it might be a good idea to strike up a conversation and find out what it’s like living in the building or the neighbourhood.
Tip: Try and visit a couple of apartments or villas before you make the final decision. Tenancy contracts in Dubai are usually on an annual basis, so spend some time weighing all your options and make an offer when you’ve done your research on the unit, the building and the area.
Make an Offer
The second step in your guide to renting a home in Dubai, once you’ve looked around, done your research, and decided on an apartment or villa, is to finalize the offer. Landlords usually agree on lowering the annual rent if you can pay the amount in fewer cheques. However, before committing to a single-cheque arrangement, make sure you’re prepared to stay in the house for a while, otherwise, you could incur losses.
If you’re unsure about the unit or the neighbourhood, or simply need a bit more flexibility, you can choose short-term rentals instead. A look at short-term vs long-term rentals may help you decide which is best for you.
Tip: If you’re ready to go ahead with renting the apartment or villa in Dubai, this is a good time to make sure that your real estate agent is RERA-registered. This is common practice in Dubai, so ask for your agent’s broker number to be certain.
Reserve the Property
To reserve the property, you will need to pay a refundable security deposit (one month’s rent) written out to your landlord. If you’re going through a real estate agent, he/she will usually hold onto this amount till the deal is finalised. Should you wish to back out of the deal for any reason, the agent will hand over this the security deposit amount to your landlord.
Documents your agent will ask for:
- Passport copy
- Residence Visa copy (or an official document from your employer or sponsor stating that your visa is being processed)
Click plenty of pictures of the vacant property in order to claim the security deposit amount in full at the end of your tenancy contract. Ask for a receipt once you make the security deposit payment. Retain this along with a copy of the landlord’s passport.
Fees: Security deposit – Usually one month’s rent
Tip: Rent cheques need to be made directly to the landlord. Ask for a copy of your landlord’s passport and title deed (if possible), before handing them over.
Review & Sign the Tenancy Contract
Following the security deposit payment, your agent will share the tenancy contract with you. This must be in accordance with Dubai tenancy law. Go over the contract, suggest changes if required and make sure you are comfortable with the stated terms and conditions. Your agent should be able to help you out if have any concerns or questions.
Once you are sure, sign and submit the tenancy contract along with rent cheques and the agency commission to the agent. Ask for receipts for each payment that you make. The agent will then get the tenancy contract signed by the landlord and hand over rent cheques, procuring a copy of the contract and an acknowledgement receipt for you. The agent then hands over the keys and access cards to you after you sign an acknowledgement form clearly listing everything you’ve received.
It’s vital that you understand what tenants in Dubai are entitled to. Learn all about tenant rights in Dubai here.
5 things to consider before signing the tenancy contract:
- Make sure all service charges have been settled by the landlord before you move in. Your agent should be able to check this and get it in writing.
- If you notice any maintenance issues, make sure they are fixed before you move in.
- Check access points in the building and make sure you receive the necessary swipe cards and keys.
- The landlord should ideally hand over the property in a livable condition. If that is not the case, ask for your apartment or villa to be cleaned before you move in.
- Check if the facilities in your apartment building are in working condition and make sure you can avail everything mentioned in the contract or by the broker/landlord.
Agency Fees: 2% to 5% of annual rent
Register Tenancy Contract with Ejari
Once you have signed the contract, you or your agent will need to register it with Ejari, as the third most important step in your guide to renting a home in Dubai, in order for it to be legal in the emirate. For this, you’ll need to head to any typing centre with your documents. Make sure the deposits, contract duration and rent amounts are clearly stated in your Ejari.
- Original tenancy contract
- Title deed (from landlord)
- Tenant and landlord’s passport copies
- Copy of tenant’s Emirates ID
Ejari Fees: AED 195
Activate Water & Electricity Through DEWA
So you finally took the plunge and signed your tenancy contract in Dubai. Next up – water and electricity. For this, tenants in Dubai have to apply for a connection through Dubai Water & Electricity Authority (DEWA).
Here’s what you need to apply for a DEWA connection:
- DEWA premise number (usually on the side of the property building)
- Ejari number
- Landlord’s passport copy
- Your passport copy & Emirates ID
- Completed DEWA form (collected at DEWA)
- Security deposit payment
Online DEWA application is a faster route and involves filling up the form stating Ejari number, Emirates ID number, and your passport copy. Pay the deposit amount through DEWA’s online payment gateway and the service will be activated within 24 hours of registration and payment.
DEWA Fees: AED 110 plus VAT
Refundable DEWA Deposit: AED 2000 for apartments, AED 4000 for villas
Tip: Remember to check for outstanding DEWA or air-conditioning bills for the apartment or villa. Your agent can find this out and make sure it is paid before you set up your own DEWA account.
Some popular communities in Dubai require tenants to procure a move-in permit before they occupy the apartment or villa. These are generally available on the developer’s website and take up to 5 days process. Make sure you ask your real estate agent or landlord if this is required and apply for the permit on time to avoid delays.
Some communities that require a move-in permit include Downtown Dubai, Arabian Ranches, The Springs, The Meadows, Dubai Marina, Emirates Hills, and The Greens.
Depending on the developer, you may need to provide the following documents:
- Passport Copy / Emirates ID
- Certificate of Completion of Payment
- Copy of the Tenancy Contract
- Copy of the unit’s most recent Service Charge Receipt (by landlord)
Move into Your New Home in Dubai!
After your move-in permit comes through, you’re all set to move into your home and start a new chapter in Dubai!
While it may seem like a daunting task, the process of renting in Dubai is fairly simple when you follow this renting in Dubai guide, know what you’re looking for and work with a competent real estate agent who knows the market and can help you out at every step. There are a high number of listings for apartments and villas for rent in Dubai on Bayut.com, so rest assured that you’ll have plenty of beautiful homes to choose from once you get here.
Take a look at our comprehensive guides for expats moving to Dubai from India and the UK, to help you transition smoothly. Most expats moving from other countries also have to go through similar procedures.
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