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Expat Exchange - How to Rent a Home in the UAE
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How to Rent a Home in the UAE

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Universal Tax Professionals
Universal Tax Professionals

Summary: Renting a home in the UAE for the first time can be daunting. You probably have so many questions: Do I need a lawyer? Do rentals come with appliances? How do I find good rentals? How do I choose the right neighborhood? The list goes on and on. Here are answers to some of the top questions plus insight from our members living in the UAE.

Renting in the UAE - How to Rent a Home in the UAE

Navigating the process of renting a home in the UAE for the first time can feel overwhelming. Numerous questions might arise: Should I consult a lawyer? Are appliances typically included in rentals? How can I discover quality rental properties? Which neighborhoods will best suit my needs? These are just the tip of the iceberg. Dive in for answers to these pressing questions and gain insights from our members who've made the UAE their home.

"Relocating to a new country can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to finding a place to live. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a popular destination for expats, offering a high standard of living and a vibrant, multicultural society. However, the process of renting an apartment in the UAE can be complex and unfamiliar to newcomers. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the rental process in the UAE, covering key topics such as finding a rental property, understanding the local real estate market, and navigating the legal requirements.

How Do You Find a Rental Property in the UAE?

There are several ways to find rental properties in the UAE. Online property portals such as Bayut, Dubizzle, and Property Finder are popular and provide a wide range of listings. You can also engage the services of a real estate agent who can help you find a property that suits your needs and budget. Local newspapers and word-of-mouth referrals are also useful sources of information.

Does the UAE Have an MLS Type System?

The UAE does not have a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) like in the United States. However, the Dubai Land Department has a similar system called the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) which provides a database of registered properties and brokers.

Do Brokers Have Licenses and How Do I Know if They Are Licensed?

Yes, real estate brokers in the UAE must be licensed by the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA). You can verify a broker's license by checking their RERA ID, which should be displayed on their business card and in their office. You can also verify their license on the RERA website.

Should I Buy or Rent in the UAE?

This depends on your personal circumstances and long-term plans. Renting is often the preferred option for expats who plan to stay in the UAE for a few years. Buying property can be a good investment, but it requires a significant financial commitment and understanding of the local real estate market.

Is It Difficult to Find Rentals in the UAE?

Finding a rental property in the UAE can be challenging due to the high demand and fast-paced nature of the market. However, with the right resources and assistance, it is possible to find a suitable property. It's advisable to start your search well in advance of your move date.

What Documents Are Required When Renting an Apartment in the UAE?

When renting an apartment in the UAE, you will typically need to provide a copy of your passport, UAE residence visa, and Emirates ID. You may also need to provide a salary certificate or proof of income. If you're renting through a company, you'll need a copy of the company's trade license.

Do I Need a Lawyer When Renting an Apartment in the UAE?

While it's not mandatory to have a lawyer when renting an apartment in the UAE, it can be beneficial, especially if you're unfamiliar with the local laws and regulations. A lawyer can review the lease agreement and ensure your rights are protected. The cost of a lawyer can vary, but you can expect to pay around AED 2,000 to AED 5,000.

How Long Is the Typical Lease For?

The typical lease term in the UAE is one year. However, some landlords may offer shorter or longer lease terms. It's important to discuss the lease term with your landlord or agent before signing the lease agreement.

Do I Have to Pay a Deposit?

Yes, a security deposit is typically required when renting an apartment in the UAE. The deposit is usually equivalent to one month's rent, but it can vary depending on the landlord's requirements. The deposit is refundable at the end of the lease term, provided there are no damages to the property.

What Other Upfront Costs Are There When Renting?

In addition to the security deposit, you may also need to pay the first month's rent in advance. If you're using a real estate agent, you'll need to pay their commission, which is usually 5% of the annual rent. You may also need to pay a fee for the Ejari registration, which is a legal requirement for all rental contracts in Dubai.

Are Utilities Included?

Utilities are typically not included in the rent and are the responsibility of the tenant. You'll need to set up accounts with the local utility providers, such as DEWA for electricity and water, and Etisalat or Du for internet and TV services. The cost of utilities can vary depending on usage, but they are generally affordable.

Are Furnished or Unfurnished Rentals More Popular?

Both furnished and unfurnished rentals are available in the UAE. Furnished apartments typically include furniture, kitchen appliances, and sometimes even linens and kitchenware. Unfurnished apartments usually only include major appliances like a refrigerator and stove. The choice between furnished and unfurnished depends on your personal needs and budget," said one expat living in UAE.

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Expats Talk about What Type of Housing They Live In

"Villa; no. Most live in apartments or townhouses; some live in villas (equivalent to a single family house)," said one expat living in Abu Dhabi.

Expats Talk about How they Found their Home

"The best way to find a place to live in the UAE is to research online. There are many websites that list available properties for rent or sale in the UAE. Additionally, you can contact a real estate agent who can help you find a suitable property. You can also look for classified ads in newspapers and magazines, or ask friends and family for recommendations. Once you have identified a few potential properties, it is important to visit them in person to get a better feel for the area and the property itself," commented an expat living in UAE.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.


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SJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
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SJB GlobalSJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
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