Dubai: Property analysts have been unanimous in saying that rents in Dubai are on a decline amid slowing investor demand, yet many tenants still complain that their landlords have asked for an increase.

The reason behind the mixed feedback could be that market reports are often based on asking prices for newly delivered apartments and villas. In many cases, old leases - those for old properties- including the ones that tenants have been sitting on for some time, are not taken into account.

Another reason is that the market is very fragmented, so while some properties offer lower rates, others may command higher prices. There is also the case of landlords taking advantage of long-time tenants who can’t afford the higher cost of moving.

But looking at prices overall, the trend is pointing downwards, so tenants should be enjoying cheaper accommodation costs, according to industry sources. The key is to know where to look.

“When analysts such as JLL discuss changes in rentals, they are looking at new leases, not the rent that sitting tenants are being asked to pay upon the renewal of their lease,” explains Craig Plumb, head of research at JLL Middle East and North Africa.

“If tenants wish to benefit from the lower rentals, they will need to be prepared to move to a new villa or apartment, particularly those that have been completed in recent years, that are now offering discounts to attract tenants for the first time.”

Besides, some landlords tend to increase the rent because they know that even with the increase, the tenant will stay, to avoid being inconvenienced and paying excessive moving costs.

“Landlords know that there is a cost associated with moving and that not all tenants will wish to incur these costs and they therefore ask for a higher price from existing tenants than they would offer to new tenants,” Plumb added.

"Savvy landlords know that the cost and inconvenience of moving will weigh heavily in the minds of a tenant faced with a small increase even if the market is officially in decline," said Lukman Hajje, CCO of propertyfinder Group.

Hajje pointed out that their numbers show a general decline in rents since the start of the year. "Apartment rents have fallen more heavily than villas, but the market is fragmented and certain communities have increased - some of them significantly."

The best advice to tenants wishing to get a better deal, according to Plumb, is therefore to consider moving – if only to use this as negotiating tool with the existing landlord.

Umer Ali, sales director at, said there are still great deals to be had. He suggested looking at communities like Dubai Marina, JBR, Silicon Oasis and Arabian Ranches.

“There is no doubt 2016 has been a rather ‘up and down kind’ of year, and it’s hard to blame tenants feeling there are mixed messages out there – because there are,” he said.

“Leasing costs in Dubai are highly fragmented by location right now… But at the same time as the market improves slightly, some areas are also seeing an increase. So clearly, shopping around is the best approach,” Ali added.