Dubai is regarded as the land of opportunity, attracting large numbers of expats to live and work in this desert oasis. The lifestyle may be glamorous, but it doesn’t come cheap. Renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center can cost, on average, € 1,766 or € 1,209. 

These prices can be compared to those in London, but they are 60% more expensive than what you could expect to pay on average in Paris.

As you might expect, the price you pay will depend on the location and some people choose to change the city center for smaller urbanizations on the outskirts, where villas are more readily available.

Before you start looking for accommodation in Dubai, it is a good idea to narrow down your search area based on where you are going to work. 

If you are going to move there with children, you will also have to take into account where their school is located, since they will also have to travel at peak times. 

By taking a look at your transportation options, you can select some neighborhoods that will allow you to commute without spending hours in traffic, which can be quite congested in some areas.

There are some differences in how the real estate market in Dubai works when compared to other countries. If you do your homework in advance you can better prepare for the process and avoid any type of scams. If you are planning to move to Dubai for work or studies, take a look at this guide on rentals in the country.

How does the rental process work?

The real estate market in Dubai is developing very quickly. There is a lot of new construction, which means that the rental options in certain areas are quite good. In such places, you should be able to see the available properties without having to worry that they will be immediately rented by someone else. 

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Even so, in some of the most prestigious neighborhoods, the market moves at dizzying rates, because there are more potential interested persons than available apartments. Consulting with an agent could help you to know a little better the course of the market in the areas you decide.

If you are looking for an apartment to rent, you can find listings directly from the landlords on one of the Dubai rentals pages (some examples below). 

Or, in case you need a little more help the first time, you can consult a real estate agent. Especially if you are unsure of the market in your area or where you would like to live, real estate agents can offer priceless advice.

The Dubai Land Department has a list of licensed real estate brokers. If you plan to hire an agent, it is definitely a good idea to work with one of them to avoid potential scams. 

You should be able to see the registration card of any broker that you choose, which shows that they have registered with the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera).

Are the flats usually furnished or unfurnished?

There are a wide variety of options in Dubai, from completely unfurnished places to others that come fully equipped with services such as security and cleaning. 

It is worth considering what you need in advance, as some areas may have more availability of a specific type of accommodation. The type of accommodation you are looking for will likely influence where you end up living.

What do I need to know about rentals in Dubai?

The real estate market in Dubai will most likely be different from that of your home country. Avoid surprises by comparing options and doing a little research before making a decision.

Legal rights of the tenant

As a tenant in Dubai, you have rights that protect you legally.

In most cases, a properly registered lease will protect you quite well. Although to be able to enjoy these rights, you must ensure that your contract is registered with the local authorities. 

To do this, you have to register your contract with Ejari (which is the Arabic word for “my rent”). Only by registering here do you get all your rights as a tenant. You can read everything about the process in English and register your contract online.

Landlords cannot increase rental prices randomly. You must be notified 90 days in advance and the new rental price must be based on the rental index published every four months by Rera. 

If you are paying below the market price, your landlord can legally raise the rent by applying a formula, which will gradually make the rental price equal to the market price. 

This means if your rent is less than 90% of the market price for a similar property, you can expect it to go up. If you are paying less than 60% of the market value, then the price increase can increase by up to 20%. By keeping track of the rent rate when it is posted, you will at least have plenty of time to see whether or not your landlord will raise the rent.

If you think that your landlord is not offering you a fair settlement, you should contact the Rent Disputes Settlement Center, where you can get the help of specialists to negotiate with your landlord and solve the problem.

General Conditions And Regulations About Property Rental

One really important difference from the real estate market in Dubai, which takes many newcomers by surprise, is that it is quite common for landlords to ask for significant amounts of the annual rent in advance. 

You may be asked for the cost of rent for an entire year in advance, or you may be required to write a series of post-dated checks that the landlord will then collect at various times throughout the year. If you are used to paying monthly rent, this can seem very strange.

If paying your rent up front or breaking it down into a small number of payments throughout the year is a problem, then look for an agent who can help you find landlords who can work with a monthly payment system.

The other notable difference is that subletting at a location that is already rented by someone else can be problematic. This is because the law disapproves of single men and women living together. 

The Dubai police tend to be pragmatic and are unlikely to be a big problem for a foreigner unless they come in contact with the police for some other minor offense. However, respecting the law and local culture is equally a part of expat life.

Contracts and deposits

The contract you sign with your landlord will likely be binding for at least a year, so there will be a penalty to pay if you want to leave before your rental ends. 

Both you and the owner can agree on the exact details of the contract, as long as they comply with the general rental rules. That means it is worth asking to modify the contract before signing it.

When you reach an agreement, the real estate agent will give you a blue rental contract. However, this is not legally valid unless you are registered with Ejari. This can usually be done online and will give you all legal rental rights.

Both the blue contract form and the Ejari record must include a record of the deposit paid to the owner. This will generally be done within four weeks, which may need to be provided to the agent when you book the property. Make sure you get a receipt and use a reputable agent or broker.

You should not give cash as a deposit if possible. Your agent may ask you to write a check to the owner or use a wire transfer. 

If you are going to pay it using an international money transfer that includes currency conversion, it is worth using a company like TransferWise to avoid being scammed with a bad exchange rate. Later in this article, we will talk more in detail about how to pay from abroad. TransferWise uses the real exchange rate and a small fixed fee applies.

Expenses for which the tenant is responsible

Before closing a rental agreement, you should make sure you have clear terms. The utilities and other bills you are responsible for will vary from location to location, with some apartments coming all-inclusive and somewhere everything is arranged for the tenant to pay the bills directly. 

Oftentimes, a more comprehensive service apartment will come with an “all-inclusive” price tag, which includes utilities and building maintenance costs.

If the tenant pays the phone, electric, and water bills, then the landlord should be able to give you an idea of ​​the average expenses before signing the contract. Depending on the type of accommodation, you could also have expenses for common areas, maintenance, security, and management of facilities such as a swimming pool or gym.

Can I negotiate the rent with my landlord?

It’s okay to negotiate the rental price. It is also worth asking in advance what expenses go towards maintenance if you are in an apartment block and what are the usual prices for public services. In this way, you can get a better idea of ​​what the total cost of renting that property is.

You may be able to get a lower price by paying part of your annual rent upfront, or by offering to make fewer annual payments.