Renting is always an exciting, yet complex, process. Whatever the reasons, whether it’s moving to Dubai in pursuit of a job or changing residence in search of a better community, finding and renting a suitable home requires time and due diligence. While Dubai’s residential lettings sector now has several regulatory safeguards in place to protect tenants, renting, whether you’re new to Dubai or a long-term resident, can still be a perilous task.
Here are some tips for making the rental process a smooth one:-
1. Plan ahead and shortlist your requirements
Nitin Chauhan, business head of Aspen Real Estate, says the rental process can be a tricky one for those unprepared. “But the entire exercise of research, viewing and negotiations can be done right if one has planned what one is looking for, and has the correct market update through a reputable agent,” says Chauhan.
It is, therefore, always better to brainstorm and plan ahead before meeting agents or looking at properties. This saves precious time and effort in the rental process. “You should list down all the features and facilities that you want in your new home. Once you have finalised this list, you can easily leverage it to shortlist suitable homes,” adds Bana Shomali, founder and CEO of Service Market (formerly MoveSouq.com), the UAE’s largest online home services marketplace.
2. Set a budget
A next critical step within the planning stage is setting the budget. This can serve as a critical component for shortlisting communities or housing that suits your needs within your budget category. “An open budget usually leads to a waste of time,” explains Chauhan. “Once you fix a budget or a budget range, your home begins to take shape.”
An often ignored aspect of budget planning can be the fees and extra costs that can add up to a considerable amount, catching you off guard in case you haven’t factored it into your planning.
Talking about the various charges one needs to be cognizant of before renting, Lukman Hajje, CCO of the Propertyfinder Group, explains, “Letting agents usually charge a fee of 5 per cent. Landlords usually demand a 5 per cent security deposit, while to get connected to the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority [Dewa] requires a deposit of Dh2,000 for apartments and Dh4,000 for villas.
Another major charge is the Dubai Municipality fee, which is 5 per cent of the value of your annual rental contract, deducted in 12 instalments via your monthly Dewa bill.”
3. Beware real estate scams
Be wary of online listings that are not hosted on reputed sites, caution experts.
“There are a lot of real estate scams and fake listings out there, so be wary and only reach out to licensed real estate agencies. You should also avoid listings on platforms like Facebook, because they are often unreliable”, warns Shomali. Asking for the real estate agents license before you hand over any money to them can save you from getting duped.
4. Check the location
While choosing a house, it is important to pay attention to the location and the community. “It matters as much as the house, if not more. Depending on your needs, there are multiple things you should consider, including whether the area is child-friendly, if it has supermarkets or restaurants nearby, or if it is pet friendly if you have any family pets”, says Shomali. For those moving to Dubai and without a car, it is important to consider locations that have easy access to public transportation like the Metro.
According to Chauhan, “While deciding on the location bear in mind the commute to work, access, traffic, facilities nearby like schools, hospitals, supermarkets, parks, play areas, shopping centres, etc.
5. Negotiate a good deal
Most tenants, especially those moving to Dubai for the first time, are unaware that they can negotiate the rent and terms of their contract with the landlord based on payment schedules. Checking how the rent for your shortlisted home compares to other properties in the area is also necessary to ensure you are not hoodwinked into paying a higher rental amount.
“Dubai’s real estate sector has been sluggish in the last two quarters and this has strengthened the bargaining power of prospective tenants, so don’t be afraid to make an offer after you have considered the advertised price. Few landlords now demand a single cheque to cover the full 12-month rental period. The norm now is for four cheques, but if you do have the spare cash or an employer that’s happy to give you an advance, then offer to pay a year upfront in return for a discount,” suggests Lukman.
6. Inspect the property
Before signing the final rental agreement it is important to inspect your villa or apartment thoroughly for any existing issues.
“You might have to face unexpected bills and many hassles if the home you are moving into has any maintenance problems such as pest infestations or a neglected garden.
If you spot anything like a cracked window or broken cupboard, immediately bring in into the notice of your landlord and take photos of any existing issues, so that you don’t lose your deposit when you vacate the property,” advises Shomali.
7. Read the contract
Finally, it is very important to read the tenancy contract thoroughly. Chauhan calls the contract “the key to your happiness in your new home”.
“A reliable brokerage will ensure that both the tenant as well as the landlord is effectively protected through the terms of the contract”, he adds. Experts strongly urge tenants who most often skip this part of the rental process, to go over the agreement in detail to avoid surprises at a later stage.
“One of the major mistakes many tenants make is that they sign the contract and seal the deal without fully understanding its terms and conditions. Confirm the duration of the tenancy and the notice period you’ll have to give when you decide to leave the house.
You should also be aware of what changes you’re allowed to make while renovating the house and read the fine print to make sure no special requirements are mentioned in the contract”, says Shomali.
Maintenance fees are one such cost that can be hidden in an unread contract, explains Lukman. “Before signing a rental lease agreement, make sure you read the contract to ensure it specifies that the landlord is responsible for both building service fees and major maintenance. As a tenant, you can expect to pay for minor repairs, but if you end up paying to get something more substantial fixed in an emergency you should be entitled to a refund providing you keep a copy of the invoice”, he adds.
The property market in Dubai offers you with lots of choices while finding a home, from a villa to an apartment to townhouses, and should you find the right one, ensure you seal the deal without delays and commit and pay the security deposit to book the property. Also don’t forget to spend some time giving your new home some care before you move in. Schedule home services such as painting, deep cleaning, and pest control a few days before you move in as this can save you and your family a lot of stress and hassle.
8. Keep paperwork in order
Here are some add-on tips to ensure you save time and money before moving into your new home:-
- Plan out a temporary accommodation to live in before you finalise your rental property. It often takes a few weeks to get all your paperwork sorted after moving to Dubai, and you will find it hard to rent a property before finalising your residency visa. So, it’s important to book a temporary accommodation for your stay in Dubai during this time. Note that furnished apartments are usually more affordable than hotels.
- Book a reputable mover. By booking the right moving service, you can make your move much easier and stress-free. Make sure the company you’re hiring is licensed. If you’re moving from another country, try to book an international mover with a FIDI certification. Find out how long it will take them to ship your belongings, so that you can plan accordingly. Avoid delays and hidden charges by booking a reputable moving company.
- Don’t let your documents be a bottleneck. You can save a lot of time by keeping copies of your documents like passport and visa ready and organized in a file. Be sure to make multiple copies and get the key documents such as your marriage certificate attested in advance.
- Rental values can vary significantly from tower to tower within the same area, and usually for good reason. If a gym, swimming pool or other in-building facilities are of major importance, it’s often worth paying a premium to live in a larger building or development.
- Signing a rental contract requires a Dubai residency visa. Sometimes employers provide new entrants to the country with only a short hotel stay after which you might be tempted to rent a room in an apartment or villa on an informal basis. But beware such arrangements may be illegal and that you’ll have little protection should you end up in dispute with your “landlord”.
By Neha Kaul
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