From rent waivers and special monthly rental plans to redesigning homes and offering upgraded facilities, landlords in the UAE are trying their best to woo tenants in order to retain them for longer periods. The luxury rental market has seen a busy summer, presenting both a challenge and an opportunity to landlords. While the challenge is retaining high net-worth tenants who are discerning and want certain standards to be met (often a challenge with older properties), the opportunity is to maximise the return by delivering furnished turnkey solution to rental clients. Andrew Cummings, co-founder and managing director of luxuryproperty.com has recently brokered the most expensive rental deal for a villa in Jumeirah Golf Estates where the landlord offered a bespoke furnished solution to raise the annual rent. “The property came to market with an asking annual rental price of Dh600,000. However the landlord instead chose to furnish the property to a high standard and we were able to rent the property for close to Dh1 million.”
Cummings says the landlord upgraded the home with custom-designed furniture “To achieve the maximum rental landlords must go above and beyond, it is not simply the case of filling the property with basic furniture. Discerning tenants expect the best.”
Cem Kapancioglu, founder and CEO of CK Architecture Interiors, has recently worked on redesigning a super-luxury 2.5-bedroom apartment in the iconic Burj Khalifa. “The Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building and has held this title for over 10 years now. But while the exterior of the building is timeless its interior, like any other, requires refurbishment based on the requirements of the owners.” Kapancioglu has undertaken the complete redesign of the apartment with luxury furniture, kitchen, curtains and bathroom fixtures and fittings from premium European brands. “This could easily help in a rental price increase by 20 per cent,” he says.
Sarah Johnson, Founder of Sarah Johnson Consulting, says, “In the luxury market, we are seeing a lot of requests for kitchen redesign. There are requests to remodel or expand a kitchen, especially from families who love entertaining at home, or even introduce storage space and custom shelving to help attract tenants,” she says.
Softening rents in the UAE and Covid-19 salary cuts have also meant that tenants are looking at affordability and are more likely to move to a newer property when offered lower rents. Aditya Shah, Director of Middle East Operations at proptech platform Yardi, says he would advise landlords to move to monthly rentals and map the rent payment dates as per the tenant’s salary cycle. This, Shah says, helps tenants with their cash flow and in turn reduces cheque bounce. While a three or four-cheque rental payment plan can create a pressure on cash flow, a monthly plan can makes it easier for the tenant to budget expenses every month.
Quality maintenance is the deal-breaker for attracting tenants, feel experts. Regardless of the property age, the landlord can invest in a highly competent maintenance team to attract the right tenant base. Jeevan D’Mello, CEO of Zenesis Corporation says there must be a proper maintenance programme in place for properties including routine, preventive, reactive and replacement activities.
Aditya Shah advises landlords to use technology to check the health of the building that they want to lease out. For instance, the Yardi app can pick up maintenance data from different buildings that a landlord manages – which could pertain to electrical, mechanical and plumbing requirements, and send it to the landlord to understand problems in the facility. This data helps the landlord to carry out preventive measures and it betters the experience of a tenants when they move into the property,” he explains.