Dubai: New to Dubai and just landed a job? Checking for a place to stay for a few weeks or months? Then, try the ‘co-living’ options that are starting to show up in the city.
With co-living accommodation, developers are offering monthly payment options (with no cheques, if need be), zero broker commissions and zero deposits for utility services. The apartments typically come furnished, and with all the add-on features that residents can use for their work needs.
“What co-living does is provide a new generation of residents entering the UAE for jobs or freelance work,” said a property consultant. “They can book accommodation for anywhere from 15 days to months, and with ease of payments. What’s different is that these tenants do not get to be locked into one-year contracts.”
Emaar has launched a dedicated co-living offering at Dubai Hills, while other developers, including some of the biggest names in the business, are exploring this space, or could be launching these living options within their new communities.
In Jumeirah Village Circle, another developer who wants to specialise in this space has just completed its first building. According to Bass Ackermann, founder and CEO of Hive Coliv, “Our focus has been to design a living solution for young professionals in search of a hassle-free, plug-and-play offering. A place where they can live for a year or two and which allows them to interact, connect and network with like-minded peers.”
But Ackermann differs on one aspect – he still prefers signing up tenants on longer term contracts – but with enough flexibility built in so that they can terminate and exit when the need arises. “Our lease agreements are therefore annual contracts but offer residents the flexibility to terminate the agreements penalty-free by giving us a 30-day notice,” he added. “This flexibility is one of the key aspects which we felt was lacking in the market, as young professionals are traditionally apprehensive to commit to annual lease agreements because of the steep penalties applied by landlords should a tenant have to terminate the lease agreement early because of redundancy, emergencies, etc.”
This could well be the way that the rental market in Dubai will move to, at least in the short-term stays. The penalty-free clause is thus decisive. According to market sources, the UAE’s recent round of residency reforms to offer freelancer visas as well as job-seeker status visas all point to the need for increased flexibility in handling landlord-tenant contracts/relationships. Offering penalty-free exits upfront is a good start.
Dubai’s real estate authority RERA requires developers to follow strict guidelines on all co-living rental options. “We had to abide by the rental regulations, which includes strict stipulations in terms of minimum lease terms, registering all lease agreements with, RERA, etc.,” said Ackermann. “Additionally, the design of our product had to be in line with the building regulations enforced by Trakhees and the Development Control Regulations stipulated by Nakheel as the master-developer of JVC.”
Definitely not holiday homes
In the last two years, licensed holiday homes in Dubai had served as short-stay options for business clients looking for a temporary address. Such properties at the Downtown and Dubai Marina have been particularly popular.
Ackermann, however, insists co-living options should not be mixed with what holiday homes offer. “From a financial point of view, holiday homes are typically priced for short-term stays, with unit rates during the winter months often making it cost-prohibitive for young professionals to rent these units on a longer-term basis,” he said.
“Holiday homes offer flexibility (on leases) but lack the social aspect which is at the core of co-living – we see our residents really deriving value and enjoyment from the connections they build within our community.”
“The flexible workspace facilities provided within the building are exclusively for residents and are free-of-charge,” said Bass Ackermann, CEO. “This is one of the most popular aspects of the building with work-from-home / flexible work policies increasingly meaning that more and more of our residents work from our building instead of commuting to the office.”