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Make a list of features and divide them into “needed” and “good to have”. Properties that tick more items in the “needed” list should be given priority Image Credit: Shutterstock

You will be spoilt for choice when renting in Dubai. The city is packed with great options and world-class amenities to meet every renter’s needs, taste and budget. However, it’s best to pick a house with care from the outset. Here is the right way to search for the right rental home.

1. Know your requirements

You can choose from a range of communities in Dubai – from affordable, mid-range to premium. “Budget is a key factor,” says Richard Aybar, managing director of real estate consultancy Devmark. “Amenities are another important consideration. Look whether the community or villa has a shared pool, transport links, nearby schools. A convenience store or a coffee shop can increase the quality of life.” He says make a list of features and divide them into “needed” and “good to have”. Properties that tick more items in the “needed” list should be given priority.

2. Start your search online

Begin the search on property portals and online listings, and narrow down your selection based on specific needs like the number of bedrooms, type of property (villa, town house, apartment, serviced apartment, furnished, etc.) and the rent you can afford. Also check details like nearby transport links, schools, leisure zones and retail areas.

3. Choose an agent wisely

Pick a reputable Rera-certified agent. Get references from contacts and relatives. A broker should assist you in identifying the property or community and preparing and reviewing the contract. Aybar recommends proper due diligence: ask about the agent’s history and the number of tenants they’ve placed in the last year. Check their website and testimonials.

4. Check the landlord’s demands

Aybar says several landlords now accept 12 cheques, but most still demand one or two post-paid cheques. Hence, a tenant needs to check this first with the owner or agent. It’s also essential to consider the different costs of renting, such as security deposits, brokerage fees, relocation fees, utility fees etc..

“The tenant must check the monthly payment terms, and both parties should agree on the date of payment,” says Aybar. “Also, the notice period should be agreed with the landlord and agent, and maintenance cost responsibilities and caps should be discussed and confirmed. It is also vital for the tenant to do thorough property inspection/snagging. This ensures there are no surprises after moving in and when moving out and getting the deposit.”

5. Be aware of fake listings

The Dubai Land Department (DLD) introduced in 2016 the Trakheesi permit, which is mandatory for all real estate companies. Every listing/advertisement must include a permit number. “The permit protects consumers and owners,” says Pawan Tolani, operations manager of Rocky Real Estate. “It allows customers to validate if the listing is genuine or not and the owners can identify if an authorised agency has listed their properties. It has been made mandatory for online property advertisements to eliminate misrepresentation and fraud.”

Anyone who finds a fake listing or advertisement should report the matter immediately. “The online portal gives you an option to report it to them directly,” says Rakesh Mirchandani, director of KGR Real Estate.

6. Sign a contract with care

Residential tenancy contracts in Dubai are usually for a one-year term. Mirchandani says a rental agreement consists of the main page that states the names and contact details of both parties and information about the property, such as the rent, deposit amounts, and contract’s start and end date. This is the main page considered for Ejari registration. There are additional pages for any addendum or other terms and conditions agreed by both parties.

“The key terms would include the responsibility or cover of maintenance, pre-termination or vacating/renewal clauses, insurance cover and contact details of both parties,” says Mirchandani. In the clause related to property maintenance, the tenant would be responsible for minor or preventive maintenance up to Dh500-Dh1,000, he says, depending on the property type. For a luxury or high-end property this is often a higher amount.”

If the property is furnished, an inventory list will be attached. The pre-termination terms can vary in each agreement. “The standard contract states a one-month notice and an equivalent of two months’ of rent as a penalty and the balance amount is returned to the tenant,” says Mirchandani. “However unforeseen circumstances can lead to early termination of the contract. Moreover, a tenant or landlord must notify each other 90 days before the expiry of a valid lease contract for any change in the agreement, or for the tenant to renew or vacate the property. Any increase in rent should follow the rental increase calculator.”

7. Ready the documents

A tenancy agreement requires copies of the title deed and the owner’s passport, visa and Emirates ID (if a UAE resident). “If the owner has authorised and given a POA, then the same would apply with the POA holder,” says Mirchandani. “Tenants would need to ask for the Dewa registration number/premise number to register the Dewa utility in their name. All the above would need to be requested through the real estate agent, who can verify the title deed and guide you through the process.”