What to look out for when renting a new home in the UAE

What to watch for before you sign on the dotted line

Image Credit: Jose Luis Barros/Gulf News
10 Gulf News

“Finding a property to rent is fairly straightforward and assuming the budget matches the market, then finding [a place] should take no time at all. We suggest that tenants look around two to three weeks before their move in date,” says Mario Volpi Head of Sales and Leasing Residential, UAE at Cluttons

With rental scams in the headlines more than once, Better Homes advises only dealing with a trusted real estate agency. Check to confirm it has a trade license and their agents have a broker’s license.

Volpi warns against using unknown freelancers. “Use an agent you have heard of and one that has helped others you know,” he said.

Check the condition of the property

The landlord by law is obliged to hand over a in working order property, so check its physical state. Remember electricity and water only gets connected when the lease is already signed, so any power, air conditioning or plumbing issues won’t show up immediately. Make sure a clause is included in the contract, which states you have a couple of days after moving in to report these issues and the landlord is obliged to sort them out. “Check that the final bill for the electricity, water and air conditioning provider has been paid by the outgoing tenant or landlord, preferably before signing the tenancy agreement,” Volpi advises.

Also make sure that no service fees are outstanding, as once cheques are handed over it can be very difficult to get owners to pay up. “The law is silent as to whose responsibility it is to pay for the service fees. However, it requires the landlord to provide the property in a condition the tenant can enjoy. If the landlord does not pay the service fees and the tenant’s use of the property is interfered with, this would constitute breach of tenancy laws by landlord. In such event, the tenant could seek recourse against the landlord through the Rent Committee,” says Ludmila Yamalova, from HPL Yamalova & Plewka JLT legal consultancy.

Firozi recommends getting a document from the developer, or the owners association, that confirms all services have been paid up to date by the landlords, “So they are not barred from using any facilities in the building.”

  • Legal ownership

Don’t rent on trust. “Make sure there is a title deed or Oqood on the property,” says Volpi. Ask to see the original title deed or check in the land department’s registry (Oqood) and get a passport copy of the landlord. “Check the name on the title deed or ownership document is the same as on the tenancy agreement, if not make checks for any power of attorney documentation,” Volpi adds.

And remember, subletting is illegal. Better Homes warns that if you are subletting the property, the actual tenant should have written authorization to do so from the landlord.

  • The contract

The first rule is to read the contract thoroughly for all clauses on maintenance and charges. They are not uniform, but standard contracts usually have clauses added by agents - these are the ones that must be read carefully.

These should include provisions to deal with the early, unscheduled breaking of the lease, according to Volpi. There is usually a fine of two months rent.

“Make sure there are provisions on the tenancy contract that stipulates the responsibility of maintaining the property. Minor maintenance is normally paid by the tenant and major maintenance by the landlord,” he adds. Ask the agent to include a checklist on the condition of the property.

“It is advisable to have a proper check-in procedure, as this will ensure the tenant has a smooth exit at the end of the tenancy and help to ring fence the deposit,” Volpi says.


  • Signing the lease

Better Homes recommends signing the lease in presence of the landlord and ensuring that any other signatory has the necessary, valid authorisations. Cheques shoud be issued in the name of the landlord only. If cheques are issued to a real estate management company, then they should have a notarized power of attorney authorizing them to receive cheques on behalf of the landlord.

All rental agreements have to be registered on the Real Estate Regulatory Agency’s (RERA) on-line Ejari system. In case of any disputes the rent committee will ask for the Ejari certificate. “Ensure that the landlord knows that it is a legal requirement to register the tenancy at Ejari and should also be responsible for the registration cost,” Volpi said.


  • Andy

    Jun 24, 2013 6:52

    It really is a case of buyer beware in the rental market. Its a pitythat we read about a very small percentage of unprofessional agents orlandlords.

  • Muhasin

    Jun 24, 2013 1:58

    I met an agent by Dubbzile, he posted one add regarding with studio flat available in abu dhabi. I contacted him and he showed me the flat and after suddenly he asked his commission. I said okay i will give after i made agreement, but he was making hurry. he asked me to give my Passportand visa copy regarding with renting that flat and he compelled me to pay his agent fee Dh3,000. By mistake i paid this fee and he told me next day 10.00am we will make agreement but next day i was calling him he told Landlord not yet met him. he waited me 5 days, each day he was telling landlord didnt met. after 5 days he sent me theoffice of the building, then only i realised i was cheated. they ask me why did you pay Dh3,000 and there is no flat available, even its available we cant give like that. we dont have any connection with this man. then I contacted him and i told him i have proof and i am going to complain. what he did he returned Dh2,700 and said to me 300 hespent. he dont have to return back. So beware of this scam..NEVER GIVE EVEN " Dh1" as advance until you sign the agreement. I was so disappointed I lost 7 days and Dh300 and mental stress also. So please beware of these scams. there are a lot of brokers now in Abu Dhabi City asking Dh3,000 to 5,000 as agent fees. Some of them need 5% commision + Dh3,000 "Manager's Fee". I dont know how the authorities can prevent this scam and robbery in this market.

  • Sunil

    Jun 24, 2013 1:44

    Spring 3, Street 7, Villa 1. The landlord deducted Dh1,200 from my deposit stating that the garden was not maintained, and cabinet in kitchen not properly kept. The landlord in 2 years I stayed there did not paint the house, nor did any civil work. He increased the price by Dh8,000 in second year.

  • Anonymous

    Jun 24, 2013 12:48

    Please either legalise the agency business by standardising their fees or please control them through law. Many times these agents are unorganised, working on someone else's visa and restricted for a particular locality. I lost money which i paid as advance and this is the story at large. Our options are limited and suffering to get affordableaccommodation. only the authorities can save us, I have full faith in them.

  • Al

    Jun 24, 2013 12:27

    After paying the deposit on my place I had a nightmare with my agent. They basically took the deposit as their agent fee and went AWOL. It took almost another month to get all the paperwork required to allow me to move into my apartment. Still, almost 3 months on, I am having troublegetting anything I have been asking for from day one done.

  • Khan

    Jun 24, 2013 12:20

    I rented a flat, before signing the contract a third party agent told me that the chiller was included in the rent. He charged me Dh2,000. At the same time, the real state agency in the same building charged me Dh3,000. At the last moment he told me the chiller was not included in the rent and that I had to pay the bill along with DEWA for the chiller. As I had not signed the contract, I took my cheques back, but he hold me Dh3,000, plus the third party commission Dh2,000. Can I sue him for the commission he charged me when I had not even signed the contract?

  • Miharbi Malsi

    Jun 24, 2013 12:14

    This article is great, but it only concentrates on Dubai environment. There are differences in each emirate, like Abu Dhabi regulation. Please highlight with reference to AD, since there is a lot of confusion and fraudelent agents with little guidance/support from the authorities.

  • Abdul

    Jun 24, 2013 11:03

    I have been living in Al Nahda 2 Dubai for the last 3 years. The first year was good, I had no issues, but from second year building manager and watchman acted like they are the owner of the building and won't listen to anything. If we ask them for any maintenance we have to wait for minimum 2-3 months. Will leave this building this year. We are paying each and every service in full amount and don't receive any proper response.

  • Preeti

    Jun 24, 2013 10:16

    Last year got cheated, we took a 2bhk flat whereas the actual flat is a1bhk where the builder has divided the hall with gypsum and made it as a2bhk. Infact later learnt he cheated all tenants in that building andrefused to return our chqs back. And adding to this misery was little tono maintenance at all. So please be extra careful and also inquire withthe residents of the building.

  • sadaf

    Jun 24, 2013 9:59

    what about the attitude of the landlord is awful? I am living in a placefrom last two years now the new land lord who has recently purchasedthis building is really awful, his attitude is like anything. he onlyhas one thing to say: if you don't like me, leave this place.One day Iwill change my place but what about the frustration I am facing from him?