Key Steps in Renting Properties in the UAE

June, 2018 by ZeroAgents

The UAE is the home of a large expat population amounting to in excess of 80% of the total population, a large proportion of which are transient in nature and thus renting is popular in the UAE. Renting is usually also cheaper than owning and bills are more predictable too, which is great news for those who prefer stable finances. And with fewer outgoings, you can save more.Renting offers more flexibility than owning - you can move somewhere else relatively quickly - useful if you plan to move for a new job. Also, it's less hassle than being an owner as you won't need to pay for property maintenance - most of that will be done for you.With such a large market of new tenants there is also a huge temptation for unscrupulous people to scam would be renters. The UAE has introduced a raft of new laws to minimise to risks of renters but as always "Caveat Emptor" ("renter beware") still applies.

Step 1 - How to find a place to rentWhat type of property should I look for?
First of all, think carefully about the type of property you'd like to rent and which best suits your lifestyle.For example, if you are only there during the week, a small place might do just fine. If security is important, then a ground floor flat may be out. If you have a car, then a parking space is a must.Do you want furnished or unfurnished accommodation or would something that's just part-furnished be okay? Often it doesn't make much difference to the rent.Other key questions to ask yourself:

1. Is a purpose built shower essential or can you make do with a shower attachment in the bath?
2. What facilities are there for washing and drying clothes?
3. Does the property have all the appliances you need?
4.Do you need a garden?
5. Do you need shared fitness facilities or own swimming pool?
6. How many cheques for the rent payment?

Where should I look?
It can be difficult to find good property to rent. Sifting through adverts in newspapers is hard work and the time from print to publication often means that by the time you see the ad, the property has long since been rented to someone else.
Using Zeroagents
Zeroagents offers a great way to find lots of property that are available for rent right now. To make your search easier, you can create an account to register for new prequalified Property Alerts to receive automatic notification in your inbox of new listings that match your criteria.

Step 2 - What to look for on viewings
When you have decided on properties that you like, you or your agent can arrange a viewing of the property.Make the most of this opportunity by:

1. Checking how well the property has been maintained.
2. Noting how much storage space there is.
3. Checking to see how the place is cooled and how well insulated it looks - this will affect your bills.
4. In most instances the utilities will be shut off and thus you will not be able to check the taps, bath, shower, toilets nor air-conditioning.
5. How clean are common areas - how often are they cleaned and by whom?
6. How are any common grounds maintained?
7. Is there a vehicle space?
8. Finding out how close the transport links are - is it an easy commute to work and how close are other amenities, shops, etc?
9. Visiting at different times to establish how safe/quiet the area is.
10. Asking if road works or other construction work are planned - this will add to noise.
11. Talking to existing tenants (if they are still there) and neighbours. Ask them what it's like to live there.

Other things you may need to consider:
1. What the schools are like - essential if you have kids
2. Do they allow pets?
3. When is it available from - and for how long?

Step 3 - How to beat the crowd
Good places go fast, so here are our tips for getting ahead of the rest to secure the best property:
1. Use Zeroagents Property Alerts facility to notify you as soon as relevant properties become available
2. Start viewing in good time. A lot of property to rent won't be available to move in to for at least four weeks
3. Have a cash reservation fee ready (and get a receipt for it)

Step 4 - Budgeting and finances
Budget carefully - the rule of thumb is not to spend more than 30% of your salary on rent.
Additionally, you need to bear in mind additionally costs that you might need to pay:
1. Real Estate fee of approximately 5% of the annual rental fee.
2. Security deposit ranging from 5 to 10% of the annual rental which will be refunded at the end of the tenancy as long as the property is handed back in good order
3. What bills (if any) are included in the rent? Are maintenance charges covered?
4. Deposit to the utilities
5. Number of rental cheques - unlike most countries where the rental is paid monthly, in the UAE the rent is usually paid with one, two, three or four cheques. Rarely with more than four cheques and even less likely in a booming market

Once you think you have found somewhere you like, things to ask the agent are:
1. Will there be a fixed term in the tenancy and, if so, for how long? Is the tenancy extendable after the fixed term has ended?
2. How many people have viewed it already and how long has it been on the market for? If there is lots of property available to rent locally, you may be able to negotiate the rent down.

Step 5 - Rental Agreement
The rental agreement exists to protect both the landlord and the tenant by clearly stipulating the right and obligations of the parties.

Before you sign the tenancy agreements, you should:
1. Make sure you have visited the property and met the letting agent/landlord.
2. Before you hand over any money to anyone make sure you have carried out due diligence to protect yourself against fraud i.e. are the rental agent RERA registered.
3. Check the inventory/property check list carefully and note anything that has been missed or is incorrect. 
4. Carefully read the small print - always. 

In most cases, you'll be asked to pay a deposit. Get a receipt for it and carry out checks to make sure you are fully satisfied that your deposit is protected by a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme.

The deposit will usually be equal to 5 to 10% of the annual rent. You pay it to the landlord or agent and they can keep some or all of it if you cause damage to the property (beyond fair wear and tear).

The tenancy agreement is to be registered with the relevant authority (RERA in Dubai) which will ensure that your rights are protected.

“ Carefully read the small print - always. ”