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Renting an apartment in Dubai: everything you need to know

Renting an apartment in Dubai: everything you need to know

You’ve got your visa, your emirates ID and you’re ready for your own place.  So, what do you do first? Check out our handy guide to renting a property in Dubai.

1. Decide on the area you want to live in BEFORE you start looking

Do your own research, have a look and see what buildings or areas you like and narrow it down from there.  You will thank yourself as will the agent if you have a good idea of what you want.  Saying you want to live in the marina without a gauge of what is actually important for you in your search will leave you frustrated, at best.

2. Make a wish list

Make a list of what is important for you for your new home – is it having easy access to a main road for your commute or do you get the metro and being close to a metro station is whats important? These are so crucial and important for your agent to know when you do start your search – no one will thank you for wasting their time and you don’t want to waste yours either!

3. Agree your budget

When it comes to budget, you’ve got to take in to consideration not only what you can spend per month, but the other fees associated with rental are important too.  We’ve broken down the fees you will pay based on an apartment rental.

  • Deposit: for an unfurnished property you’ll put down a 5% deposit of your annual rent which will be cashed; for furnished expect to put 10% down
  • Agency fee: 5% of annual rate plus VAT, this is the norm across the fee.  For rentals below a certain amount, a flat fee of AED 5k can be expected (note: this is not always the case but it does tend to be the accepted standard across the board).
  • DEWA deposit: AED 2k for an apartment; AED 4k for a villa
  • Chiller deposit: There are a number of providers but expect this to be around the same as DEWA

4. Find an agent

Agents are on commission only here so every moment of time is precious for them.  Don’t waste their time or allow them to waste yours and you should be on the right track.  Finding an agent who knows their stuff is key.  You want an agent that specialises in the area you’re looking at and most importantly, is honest with you. Viewing something 40k over your budget only leads to heartache! Look for a reputable agency and make sure your agent knows the market and what they’re selling properly.

5. Narrow down your search

Okay so you’ve decided you want to live in the marina, but what end? Which building? The marina has options for most budgets so make sure you go and do your own investigating of buildings before you view.  That way you’ll know where you will and won’t consider in advance!

6. View during the day

If you’re new to Dubai, you might not realise that electricity is not connected in unrented apartments so evening viewings are somewhat redundant. Dedicate a morning or a weekend to view and get it done quickly! That also counts for A/C so make sure you’re prepared to view in the heat – villas especially can be a sweaty viewing experience in summer (what isn’t!).

7. View a month before but ideally not before

You might be super excited to get on with your property search but many landlords will not be flexible on a move in date by over a few weeks.  That’s just the way it works here! Viewing something available now when you can’t move for another month is unlikely to end in success for you.

8. If you like it – snap it up!

If it’s on at an agreeable price and you like it – make an offer.   The market is hot right now and a good apartment at a good price won’t stay on the market for long, trust us! Your agent will be able to guide you with how much to offer but don’t be tempted to low ball the landlord too much.  Be fair and respectful and offer what you think is fair and agreeable. 

9. Your offer

Your offer depends on a number of things.  What do you have to offer? Are you paying in a small amount of cheques? Is your move in date next week? If so, you’ll be able to put in an offer lower than the asking price.  However, if you have a move in date of a month’s time with 12 cheques, you will need to be smart about what you offer.  Typically, a landlord won’t accept a lower rent amount if the number of cheques is high and the move in date is far off.  Your agent will be able to guide you on this.

10. Offer accepted – what now?

Get ready to write those cheques, depending on how many offers the landlord has on the table you will want to be quick about getting your deposit ready.  Many people even carry their cheque books with them to ensure they get their offer in the moment they see the property. 

After that, you will have the contract drawn up by your agent.  You can also request the title deed to check validity and ownership of the property yourself on the Brokers app.  Never hand over cash directly to an agent.  If your landlord wishes to be paid in cash you should write a cheque to the agency who will produce the cash for the landlord.  Additionally, some agents may ask you to pay them in cash but to protect yourself do ensure it is paid via cheque made out to the RERA licensed agency they work for. A reputable agent will never ask you to pay them in cash – if they do, do not proceed with the offer.

11. Before you move in

You might think that now you’ve signed the contract things are plain sailing. Well, they can be but there’s still some work to do.

  • register EJARI (this must be done in person at a designated EJARI counter)
  • Connect DEWA (this can ONLY be done once you have registered Ejari, they are usually pretty quick at connecting but you can schedule for the future which date you want it connected so make sure you get this done ASAP).
  • Connect chiller (if the tenant pays chiller charges make sure you get the deposit set up for this)
  • Set up Du / Etisalat (schedule this in advance as it can take a while to get an appointment)
  • Connect gas (if applicable)
  • Apply for Move In Permits – you can get this from your building reception, do this as soon as you know your move in date so it has time for processing. Some buildings require up to 5 working days to process a move in permit.