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7 Things Expats Must Know Before Renting a Property in Dubai

Things Expats Must Know Before Renting

As an expat moving to Dubai and hunting for the right property for rent can be a bit of a challenge. It is essential to clarify all relevant matters beforehand to make the process smooth and trouble-free. The Dubai Real Estate Regulatory Agency is the official department handling tenancy and property ownership in the emirate.

7 Things Expats Must Know Before Renting in Dubai

Tenant rights

Dubai is known for its fair practices. Hence, as an expat, you must know that you enjoy certain rights as a tenant, and your tenancy has legal protection. The first thing is to register the tenancy contract with the authorities. ‘Ejari’ or ‘my rent’ is a mandatory system for registering tenancy contracts. To get your Ejari certificate, you need to submit the below-mentioned papers to the local office:

  • The original contract
  • A copy of your Emirates ID, visa, and passport
  • A copy of your landlord’s passport
  • The title deed copy
  • Receipt of the security deposit paid by you to your landlord
  • The DEWA Premise Number of the said property, which is a nine-digit number and stands for Dubai Electricity and Water Authority. The centralized authority is responsible for offering three services – electricity, water, and sewerage. Once the Ejari is approved, all your details are transferred to DEWA. No other documents need to be submitted for the activation of DEWA, but tenants need to pay a refundable security deposit and activation charges to complete the process.
  • The landlord will need to submit the previous DEWA bill.

As an expat, you should understand the significance of Ejari registration. Only when you complete the process can you enjoy the legal benefits of a tenant.

1. Rental increase

Another law that is important in Dubai is about rental increase. The rent cannot be increased arbitrarily by your landlord. It can be done only by giving you a notice of 90 days.

Additionally, the RERA publishes a rental index every quarter. Only when the rent being paid is below the rental index for a similar property, the landlord is legally equipped to raise the rent. For example, if you are paying less than 90% of the current market rate, the landlord can hike the rent to match it with the ongoing rate. If your rent amount is less than 60% of the market rate, you can expect a hike of 20% in the rent.

In a nutshell, the best is to keep watching the rental index published by the Government of Dubai. In case of any issue with the landlord, you can seek help from the Rent Disputes Settlement Centre in Dubai.

2. Reading the Lease papers

Although the rental laws are stringent in Dubai, there could be a probability that your landlord goes against the law or add terms with hidden interpretations. Hiring a real estate agent or consulting a lawyer is a wise move. While engaging a broker, you can refer to the Dubai Land Department approved real estate brokers list.

Irrespective of whether you have hired a lawyer or a realtor or not, it is your responsibility to study the rental contract thoroughly before signing on the dotted lines. There have been instances of the house being flooded or damaged by fire because the tenant missed reading between the lines. While the home is usually insured, the belongings are the tenant’s responsibility. It’s nice to have gotten all of the details straight before taking over the keys.

Reading the Lease papers

3. Rent payment

You could be subject to a few discrepancies in payments if you are not too cautious or well-versed with the payment terms. Many real estate agents charge a fee for showing a property. Even if the law is silent on the subject, you can see right away that the agent is untrustworthy. A good real estate agent can be of great help.

Most landlords can ask for:

  • A refundable security deposit that covers any damage to the property or repainting work during your stay or when you leave
  • Signed post-dated checks for the entire year or a quarter. It might be two, twelve, or any other combination of cheques that the landlord deems appropriate. Expat tenants can always speak and negotiate with the landlord regarding the same before moving in.
  • Bounced cheques can cause travel ban and other issues.
  • Subletting is not a practical solution, especially if it is against the cultural and religious beliefs of the local Emiratis.

4. Evicting a tenant

Dubai laws are strict about eviction. Landlords cannot throw out a tenant just like that. They need to give prior notice to the tenant.

5. Bills for utilities

Depending on the type of apartment and the place you rent, the rules could differ. For example, a fully serviced apartment will include the building maintenance costs. The payment for utilities like water and electricity is the tenant’s responsibility. The service fees may be extra for the tenant to pay for in other areas.

6. Repair costs

In general, the repair cost is the liability of the landlord. But certain types of repair may fall under the purview of the tenant, for example, minor repairs. The landlord might insert a term on repair costs in the lease papers – hence, you need to read and discuss the same with them before signing. You should seek clarity on the type of excess repairs that can fall on you. Or else, you could be spending a considerable amount every year on property restorations.


While rental rates in the Emirate have fallen or been stagnant over the last year and a half, leases in some areas and property types are currently rapidly rising. To avoid rental discrepancies, it is advisable to get acquainted with the laws before finalizing the deal.