Renter's Guide to Dubai Property

In Dubai , long term Rental Contracts are for a fixed term of one year from the start date.                                    There is a legal requirement obligating the landlord to offer the same terms the following year, however this is superceded by the actual terms on the contract, so read it carefully.

It is not legally possible to rent an apartment long term , ie . for 1 year or more , without a valid residence visa. Banks will allow you to open an account with a letter from your company stating that the visa is under process. The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, DEWA , will also accept this. However if your visa does not materialize then you will forfeit any legal right to recover any money spent on rent .

Many landlords will only accept payment in one to four cheques. These cheques are payable at the start of the contract and in the event that you have agreed to pay in more then one, the others are post dated. This is very important as the cheques are more then just a method of payment in Dubai, they are a legally enforced bond, and there can be serious consequences if you don't cover the funds.

Generally there is a period of notice at the end of a contract, within which you tell the landlord whether or not you are staying. If you fail to give notice, then legally you are bound to renew on the same terms. 

Normally cheques should be made payable to the registered Owner,whose details will be on the title deed, or the sales contract, either of which are valid proof. You may also make payment to a Power of Attorney (POA) , a person empowered to act on behalf of the Owner. You should have the POA document checked. There are commonly in Arabic,  and should always have the court stamps and stickers attached. 

The Real Estate Agent is responsible to arrange all paper work, and prepare the contract.

Before paying any money check all the ownership documents, and make sure that the Agent is RERA registered as it is illegal to deal with an unauthorised free lance Agent. Try to do the paper work in their office and NEVER make rent cheques payable to an Agent unless they have a valid Power Of Attorney. 

Every property in Dubai needs to have Water and Electricity connected. Dubai Electric and Water ( DEWA ) is the Utility Company in Dubai . You will also be liable to pay  a "housing fee" to DEWA on top of your actual consumption of water and electricity. This is essentially a Government Tax collected via DEWA. The amount is 5% of the total rent for the year, split into monthly payments. You may pay DEWA via their website , at petrol stations, or at several other outlets. 


If you live in an apartment, depending on the area, you may also be charged a chiller fee , where the A/C is centralised and charged per apartment.All of the Palm and JBR and some towers on the Marina and Downtown have a chiller fee.                                                                   Ensure that you check this fee as it can be expensive.

The Property Location determines who the service supplier is for TV, Interent & Landline.

It will be either Du or Etisalat , both fairly expensive, and it is wise to choose the package you need from the outset, as changing it is difficult.

Gas supply differs from building to building, mostly just a simple canister arrangement .

Dubai Areas

Dubai Marina

Dubai Marina was built by multiple developers with the result that towers vary greatly in quality.

The Marina has a number of lovely buildings but also has a number of basic apartments of indifferent quality.

The towers closer to the south end of the Marina are generally cheaper than the ones to the north end. 

In recent years the Marina has truly come to life with smaller shops and restaurants opening up on the ground floors of the apartments. Many Marina residents never leave the Marina except to go to work.

The Marina has a fun atmosphere with strong appeal to young western expats, but you only get one parking space and finding a second parking space on the public streets can be difficult. 

Traffic in and out of the Marina can be difficult depending on where your apartment is located.

JBR

JBR has roomy apartments but people have a love/hate relationship with the complex. The Podium levels have never properly taken off and some of the clusters do have a down at heels look with boarded up shops and crumbling sidewalks. The Walk is perennially popular but also noisy at the weekends and well into the night.
Apartments generally start at AED 45,000 for a cheaper 1 bedroom, AED 55,000 for a mid-range 1 bedroom , AED 75,000 for a higher end 1 bedroom. Two-three bedrooms are correspondingly higher. 

Jumeirah Lakes Towers

JLT is often written off as inferior as it's on the other side of Sheikh Zayed from the Marina but the better JLT towers have sizeable apartments with excellent finishes , easier parking and higher prices than the cheaper Marina apartments. 

The cheaper JLT towers are cheaper for good reasons : fewer amenities, difficulty of walking around on foot and a ridiculous road system. JLT is district cooling.
Apartments start at AED 35-40,000 for a cheaper one bedroom. 

On the whole, JLT apartments are about AED 10,000 cheaper similar apartments in the Marina.


The Greens

Young people may find the Greens too quiet (although plenty still live there), but it has (by Dubai standards) fabulous landscaping and a nice community feel that may appeal to families, couples and older people, and within the Greens the low-rise apartments offer good value for space and convenience while the high rise apartments with their Emaar quality finishes and lush pools and views are among the more expensive in Dubai. 

The Greens is not district cooling and all AC usage is paid for by the landlord out of his maintenance fees, so your DEWA bills will be much lower.
Greens apartments are about the same cost as the Marina, starting at AED 45,000 for the cheapest 1 bedroom in the low rises and about AED 60,000 for a small 1 bedroom in the towers, with prices going up with size and views. 

The Palm Jumeirah 

The Palm can be a wonderful place to live but not all apartments on the Palm are created equal or even have pool/beach access. The Palm can have a holiday feel to the place and is popular with holiday lets, which means you run the risk of having unwelcome (if temporary) neighbours. The Palm is district cooling. 
The cheapest Palm apartments tend to go for about AED 65,000 for a 1 bedroom in Golden Mile (no beach/pool acess or views). Proper 1 bedrooms in the Shorelines usually start at AED 75,000.

Downtown Burj Khalifa

This is a masterplanned community entirely built by one developer, Emaar, so has a cohesive "planned" high quality finish . 

As well as Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa , Downtown has several Apartment complexes,  like the Burj Views and Lofts towers, 8 Boulevard Walk, The Residences (direct on the lake), Southridge, as well as "Old Town," a mock Arab low-rise complex.

Finishes and amenities are high quality , and the Burj Views/Lofts offer excellent value given the location. 

The Residences are the most expensive apartments, apart from the Burj Khalifa, and have terrific views, but the nightly waterfountain displays can be noisy for some people. 

Old Town is popular but its apartments tend to be dark. 

Downtown offers easy and walkable access to the Dubai Mall and the bars/restaurants in the mall, the adjoining Souk al Bahar and hotels are more expensive and have no cheap corner shops and eateries like the Marina. 

Downtown, as with any Emaar development, is not district cooling. 
Downtown apartment rentals start at about AED 60,000 for the cheaper 1 bedrooms in the Burj Views/Lofts.

Pricewise it's the same as comparable buildings in the Marina. 

Business Bay 

This is one of the newest areas in Dubai and is located just south and east of Downtown. 

12 tower complex was one of the first to open in Business Bay and is called the Executive Towers. 

New towers, both residential apartments and commercial, have opened across Business Bay over the past six months.  Business Bay apartments offer some excellent deals, one bedrooms going as low as AED 40,000 .

1 bedroom in one of the new BB towers start from AED 35,000, AED 45,000 for a 1 bedroom in a midrange building and AED 55,000 in Executive Towers. 

TECOM 

This community adjoins the Greens but is a world apart in feel and character.

Apartments in TECOM vary greatly in quality but are, on the whole, cheaper than the Greens or Marina.

TECOM has a dusty feel to it with little or no landscaping, but a few bars exist in several of the hotels and few supermarkets have opened up, making it an ideal place to live if you don't mind some dust and want to save some of your housing allowance while only being a few minutes from the Marina.
Tecom 1 bedroom apartments start at AED 35,000 for the cheapest buildings to about AED 60,000 in the best buildings

Al Barsha 

There are 2 Al Barshas: the high density Al Barsha immediately around the Mall of Emirates, and the far larger residential Al Barsha of single family villas. The Al Barsha by the mall is a duplication of Bur Dubai/Deira, although on a smaller scale. It does have a bit of a Hollywood movie set to it as it's a high density, urban environment plopped down into the middle of the desert and you can walk from a heavily built up area to large tracts of undeveloped sand in a block or two. Al Barsha apartments vary in quality and are generally cheaper. Some of the buildings look well maintained and habited by young professionals, others look like that they've been colonised by Asian workers sharing tiny apartments (4+ people to a room). Quite a few Indian/Arabic/Lebanese/Chinese restaurants have opened up in Al Barsha in the past two years. Al Barsha can be a fine place to live if you want a cheap, simple 1-bedroom apartment near the metro and with plenty of cheap dining and retail options withink walking distance, as well as the Mall of Emirates, but you must choose your apartment carefully. 
Al Barsha starts at AED 30,000 for the cheapest 1 bedrooms to AED 45,000 for the nicer buildings.

Arabian Ranches
Very popular with families. Range from 2 bed townhouses to 6 bed  villas.                                                                 Rental Prices are from AED 75,000 to AED 340,000

Diera/Bur Dubai
The older part of Dubai. A lot less western then the other areas mentioned, but no worse for it. Massive diversity of apartments and villas, and you would have to source a specialist too guide you through.

Jumeirah/Umm Sequim
Ranges from exclusive to dilapidated, and again an area that specialist agents have made their own.

Mirdiff
Cheap and cheerful housing, larger than many other areas , but several pitfalls.                                                       Large parts of this area are directly under the flightpath of DXB, and it can be very noisy.                                        The villas are independantly owned and maintenance can be variable.

International city
We dont really recommend this community, but here is some information on it.
Designed around world regions and styled with architecture to match.
Buildings are 3-5 story, with central clusters ground level reserved for commercials. 
Apartments are Studios and 1 bedroom in the outlying buildings , with some 2 bedrooms in the Central District.
Rental Costs:  AED 20,000 per annum for a studio, AED 25,000 for an average 1 bedroom of 800sqft, AED 29,000 for a large 1bedroom of 900-1050 sqft. 
Services: Within a few hundred meters of a typical apartment you can find  groceries, medical clinic, locksmith, barber, ladies salon, restaurants, internet cafe, etc
Residents are mixed, but rarely western. Pakistan, India, Phillipines, China are the majority residents. 
Parking : Can be difficult .

General

In all Dubai communities expect 2 bedrooms to be about 75% more expensive to rent than 1 bedrooms. 
Price differentials between the major Dubai communities aren't so big .

Paying a bit more in rent can result in a much nicer building in a more popular area, while some of the cheaper options have higher utilities costs due to being in a district cooling scheme. Better buildings often have much nicer pools and gym complexes that may justify the higher expense.

If you just want cheap you have a number of options which are often just as conveniently located as the more expensive and popular communities.

Dubai Interactive Map ( scan cursor over Map to find areas )

Apartment Price Index

Areas Studio One B/R Two B/R Three B/R Four B/R
Dubai Tower / Downtown 80-100 110-130 130-180 170-230 220-300
Greens 60-70 80-90 100-120 130-160 180-220
Dubai Marina 55-65 80-110 110-150 150-180 170-230
International City 35-45 45-60 60-75 ..... .....
Green Community 60-70 90-120 110-155 140-190 .....
Jumeirah Beach Residence 60-70 90-110 120-150 150-180 200-240
Palm Jumeirah ..... 130-150 130-200 200-240 .....
Jumeirah Lakes Towers 55-65 80-100 110-140 140-170 170-220
Arabian Ranches ..... ..... ..... ..... .....
Jumeirah Islands ..... ..... ..... ..... .....
Meadows ..... ..... ..... ..... .....
Springs ..... ..... ..... ..... .....
Gardens ..... 55-65 80-110 110-140 .....
Discovery Gardens 45-55 55-70 70-95 ..... .....
Dubai Investment Park 50-60 60-80 80-100 110-150 .....
Dubai International Financial Centre 110-130 140-170 170-220 220-350 .....
Dubai Silicon Oasis 55-70 70-90 90-110 120-160 .....
Al Barsha 55-70 80-100 100-140 120-160 ....

 

Villa Price Index

Areas Two B/R Three B/R Four B/R Five B/R Six B/R
Dubai Tower / Downtown ..... ..... ..... ..... .....
Greens ..... ..... ..... ..... .....
Dubai Marina ..... 250-350 280-380 ..... .....
International City ..... ..... ..... ..... .....
Green Community ..... 180-230 200-250 230-290 280-350
Jumeirah Beach Residence ..... ..... ..... ..... .....
Palm Jumeirah ..... 250-300 300-400 500-800 600-1000
Jumeirah Lakes Towers ..... ..... ..... ..... .....
Arabian Ranches 130-160 160-190 200-320 250-280 300-500
Jumeirah Islands ..... ..... 250-350 280-400 .....
Meadows ..... 230-260 240-290 260-350 .....
Springs 100-130 140-180 180-250 ..... .....
Gardens ..... ..... ..... ..... .....
Discovery Gardens ..... ..... ..... ..... .....
Dubai Investment Park ..... ..... ..... ..... .....
Dubai International Financial Centre ..... ..... ..... ..... .....
Dubai Silicon Oasis ..... ..... ..... ..... .....
Al Barsha ..... 150-200 180-250 220-300 280-400
 

The Rental Increase Cap – An Update on Tenancy Law

The Rent cap decree passed in 2010 aims to underpin the stability of property market in Dubai. 

The decree regulates relationship between landlords and tenants and charting a legal framework for this matter. 

The decree sets rent increase caps for 2010 at the same rates for 2009 and earlier, according to the decree issued on rental cap in 2009.

We have herein compiled a basic overview of the current laws, specifically regarding Law No. 33 of 2008 (which amended Law No. 26 of 2007) and Decree of 2010

Law No. 33 of 2008 

This law is intended to amend the provisions of Law No. 26 of 2007, which regulates the relationships between landlords and tenants in the emirate of Dubai. Below are the most relevant amendments enacted by Law 33 of 2008.

Article 4 of the law requires that tenancy contracts should be registered with RERA. However, RERA or the Rent Committee can make an exception in entertaining disputes filed by landlord or tenant even if the tenancy contracts are not registered. This means you need to get your tenancy contract registered with RERA, but if you have not done so you may still have some legal protection. 

Article 9 of the law previously contained a two year protection against any increase in rent for the first two years of the tenancy; the amending law removes this protection. This means that rent increases can take place every year, in accordance with the 2009 rent cap and the index of rental values. 

Article 13 & 14 of the law require that if the tenancy contract is to be renewed at the end of its term and amendments are to be made to the contract, including any review of the rent, the parties to the contract must notify each other of such amendments at least ninety days prior to the expiry date unless the tenancy contract provides otherwise. 

Article 25 Part 2 adds that a landlord may terminate the tenancy contract upon expiry if he "wishes to sell the property.” However, there is a requirement for twelve months’ notice to be provided by the landlord to the tenant in such a case. Article 25 also introduces a requirement that any notification of eviction from a landlord must be sent either through the notary public in Dubai or registered mail. 

Article 26 of the law is amended to the extent that if the landlord wishes to recover the property for his personal use, he is now restricted to re-lease it to a period of 2 years for residential properties and 3 years for non-residential properties; previously it was a requirement of 1 year. 

Other highlights: In the event of premature termination by tenant, the tenant can claim for remainder rent amount by mutual agreement between landlord and tenant OR the rent committee can grant some amount of compensation to landlord and refund the remainder amount to tenant. 

Decree of 2010

This is the recent law regarding the rental caps and the rental index prices throughout Dubai. A summarization of the law is as follows: 

There will be no rent increase in 2010 for tenants who were leasing property units in 2009, which includes residential and non residential properties, if the rent in 2009 was equal to or 25% or less below the average similar rent. Stated differently, rental increases can only occur if the property was more than 25% below the average index price (which has been determined by RERA - a link to this index is at the bottom of the article). 

Given this, the maximum rent increase for tenants who were leasing such units in 2009 shall go according to these rules: 

  • If the rent was 26% to 35% less than the average rent for a similar property, the maximum increase shall be equivalent to 05% of rent value for the year 2009.
  • If the rent was 36% to 45% less than the average rent for a similar property, the maximum increase shall be equivalent to 10% of rent value for the year 2009.
  • If the rent was 46% to 55% less than the average rent for a similar property, the maximum increase shall be equivalent to 15% of rent value for the year 2009.
  • If the rent was 56% to 55% less than the average rent for a similar property, the maximum increase shall be equivalent to 20% of rent value for the year 2009.

The “similar rent value” of the property is based on “The Rent Index of the Emirate of Dubai,” applicable on the date of renewing of the tenancy contract. RERA will review and update the Index periodically.

According to the Decree, the Real Estate Regulatory Authority shall undertake implementation of this rule, provided that it shall be issued in the official gazette and shall be effective as from the date of its issuance. This means that, until the rule is published in the official gazette, it may not be considered “effective.”

Click here for the current rental index map, based on official RERA figures.

This summary is our best understanding of current law and is for informational purposes only. Specifics of the law may be subject to change . Please seek professional legal advice on any crucial details of these laws.

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