The Ultimate UAE Renter's guide: How to Rent an Apartment in 9 Steps

The ultimate Renter's Guide to understand how to rent a flat in Dubai in a few steps only. There's no doubt that the United Arab Emirates has increasingly become home to people of various nationals. With this, the need to rent apartments is inevitable. Various property websites are visited daily by hundreds and thousands of renters looking to rent a home in the UAE. Therefore, the process of renting residential properties is stress-less. Whether you are new to town or have rented Dubai properties in the Emirates for years, follow this comprehensive renter's guide to understanding the nine steps to renting a home in the UAE.

1. Step One: Make a Decision

Most ex-pats decide to rent an apartment in Dubai based on the nature of the city: the most sought-after destination in the emirate for expats looking to improve their career, and low crime rate. There are several reasons ex-pats choose apartments for rent in a particular emirate—for instance, proximity to work, school, family decisions, amongst other things. Furthermore, rental prices in the UAE varies. Therefore, it's essential to know tips on how ex-pats. The decision process is, therefore, involves consciously putting into consideration the long-term plans and needs of yourself and your family as the case may be. 

2. Step Two: Budget

So you've decided on where to live in the UAE, the next phase is to check your financial status. Apartments in the UAE range from top-notch luxury villas and apartments to a below-average apartment in various communities in the UAE. Furthermore, setting a realistic budget can afford you not only for the rental price but for other costs such as DEWA and other related costs. What is interesting is due to the pandemic, apartment saw a drop in prices which was in favour of renters who wished to upgrade where they live. With the new rental prices, between AED 20,000 to 40,000 per year can make you rent a studio or a one-bedroom in average standard prestigious communities such as Jumeirah Village Circle, Dubai Investment Park, Silicon Oasis, Business Bay, Dubai Sports City, Al Furjan, and The Greens. On the other hand, there are communities that have fully air conditioned luxury apartments with the most exotic amenities of a budget above AED 150,000 per year. The communities include Downtown Dubai close to the Dubai Mall, Dubai Hills, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Marina, Arabian Ranches.

3. Step Three: Lifestyle

The lifestyle of an ex-pat can play a huge role in determining his renting choices. Although residents from neighbouring countries like Saudi Arabia or Oman have a common middle eastern culture. There are a variety of communities with standard properties for rent in Dubai, and Abu Dhabi that suits the lifestyles of students, singles, families living in the UAE. For instance, two major lifestyle categories could determine an ex-pat's choice of the resident. Vibrant and Tranquil. Vibrant communities in the buzzing parts of Dubai include- downtown Dubai, Al Barsha, city walk, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Marina, Jumeirah beach residence, business bay. Tranquil communities in Dubai offers a quiet and serene lifestyle like - International city, silicon oasis, midriff, Jumeirah village circle, discovery gardens, Dubai sports city, Arabian ranch.

Additionally, other lifestyle choices can determine what residential property to rent. For instance, a bachelor may want to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Dubai. In contrast, a family may want to rent a duplex or a three-bedroom villa as long as they can afford the property.

4. Step Four: Search for Properties

These days, properties for rent are on the internet; which means you can search for from the convenience of your phone. However, you can search for apartments on Local newspapers, or by visiting real estate agencies. If you are renting your first home in the UAE, it will easier to search online for the right property of your choice. In rare cases, it is also possible to rent a property directly from the owner. At this stage, you have an idea of the community you want to live, budget, and you are looking forward to what property will be the most suitable choice. The easiest way to find out is by filtering your need on the property website. There are some array choices to make when it comes to making a rental decision. For example, there are residential dubai properties on property websites like Hotel apartments, Apartments, Townhouses, Villas, and Penthouses. If you don't plan on leaving the neighbourhood, you can find apartments near you by searching on a property finder. One of the leading UAE property websites is

Once you can get the most suitable apartments in the communities of your choice, of course, you would be interested to know the details of the property. For example, a villa for rent may have details include Furnished or Unfurnished, Location, Annual rent, List of amenities, Numbers of rooms and bathrooms, Proximity to facilities in the neighbourhood such as the best schools, hospitals and many more. From the listings, you will save the most appealing properties for future purpose. The next thing will be to get the contacts of the estate agents from the website and discuss the apartments you find online and to schedule to viewing time. However, you can find a Dubai real estate agency on the internet to discuss the most suitable home you'd like.

5. Step Five: 

a. Schedule a viewing 

The UAE property market is highly competitive. Therefore, it is imperative to rent a home fast, so that the property won't be off the market. The real estate agent should be well aware of the communities you are viewing and provide you with all the necessary information, even beyond the questions you ask. However, this is the most convenient time for you to ask all the necessary questions because viewing isn't all the time. Be sure to check the right places in the community you visit is- facilities around the area, the amenities in the building, the exits, and the proximity to the points of your interest. If you are in doubt of anything, again, check the reviews of the communities online to serve as an ex-pat guide in asking the appropriate questions.

b. Tips to consider before making a final decision to choose the apartment.

There is always a rush of excitement when you see an alluring property that suits your needs, but its best to consider these few tips before making a final decision.

  • Number of balconies in the apartment
  • The view from the balcony
  • The space of the entire apartment
  • The maintenance of the apartment and ask the realtor if the Landlord will sort out any maintenance issue.
  • Additional charges
  • Parking spaces of tenants
  • Security of the property 
  • Facilities in the building such as a swimming pool, a sauna, a gym and many more.
  • Mall and area of interests in the neighbourhood
  • Lifestyle of residents in the neighbourhood: family-friendly neighbourhood or bachelors
  • Is it a vibrant or tranquil area?
  • Connection to the transportation system; bus, metro and taxi

It is important to note all these tips for personal analyses because the agent may not have a vivid idea of your potential home. Finally, in this stage, it is necessary to agree on the agency fee as agent usually charge between 2% and 5% of the annual rent. The agency percent is slightly the same in other emirates even in the sale of property for instance property sale in Ajman.

6. Step Six: Finalize the Reservation process

Finally, you have made an offer to rent an apartment, villa or townhouse in the United Arab Emirates. The next is to discuss the rental payment plan with the agent or Landlord as the case may be. Usually, the renter should pay the rent cheques quarterly or bi-annually. However, renters who can afford to pay a single cheque could get the benefit of having their annual rent reduced by the Landlord.

Once this has is agreed upon, the renter will then pay a refundable security deposit of either the full one month's rent or 5% of the rent to the Landlord. After making the necessary payments, the Landlord or estate agent will give the renter a receipt as evidence of payment. In the case of forfeiting the rental process, the agent will give the security deposit to the Landlord as compensation, and the estate agent will NOT refund the payment to the tenant.

The required document for this step includes:

  • Passport copies 
  • Residence visa copy ( in the case of your visa being in process, you will need an official document from your employer or sponsor)
  • Passport copies and Residence Visa of spouse ( as required in some emirates)
  • Marriage certificate (required in some emirates)
  • Salary certificate
  • Cheque book

7. Step Seven: Tenancy contract

After payment of the security deposit, the agent gives the renter the tenancy contract. This tenancy agreement must be following the law of the residing emirate. Reading the contract is a critical stage as the contract must be thoroughly read to understand all clauses and be comfortable with it to prevent any future misunderstandings. In some cases, the tenants and landlords can make additional clauses to create a mutual agreement. When the tenancy contract is signed, the tenant should submit to the agent and include rent cheques and the agreed agency commission. The agent has to deliver this tenancy contract to the Landlord to affix a signature. At every stage, the renter should ask for a copy of the document. At this stage, the agent or Landlord will give the gives of the property to the tenant.

8. Step Eight: Tenancy Contract Registration

Another critical step is the registration of tenancy contract. It is important because it validates and legalizes your tenancy contract. There are various regulating bodies for the tenancy contract registration in different emirates. For instance, Ejari is responsible for legalizing a tenancy contract in Dubai, Tawtheeq is responsible for legalizing a tenancy contract in Abudhabi. Sharjah municipality is responsible for the emirate of Sharjah and Tasdeeq for the emirate of Ajman. RAK municipality is responsible for legalizing a tenancy contract in Umm Al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah, and Fujairah municipality. This step is the same for getting apartments or villas for sale

The tenant can register the tenancy contract via the internet or in a business centre with some required payments and documents. Documents needed to complete the registration process irrespective of the emirate includes Emirates ID, Passport copy of tenant and Landlord, resident visa copy, Tenancy contract.

9. Step Nine: Move into your new home

Unlike getting properties for sale or buildings for sale that will include additional steps, this is the final step to moving into your UAE home may seem like the end of the process. Congratulation, you have rented your first home for those new in the Emirates. However, it's the beginning of a blissful experience. When you are ready to move into your apartment or villa, your home needs to be comfortable enough. What most rents opt for is a furnished apartment in the UAE that comes with most of the necessary items for a cosy home. However, if this isn't your choice, you can choose to furnish your home to your taste. Another aspect of this phase is to connect your apartment to the electricity and water department of the emirate. Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) is responsible for that is Dubai in Abu Dhabi, ADDC Sharjah is SEWA. In the northern emirates, FEWA is responsible for the water and electricity supply. To register for this service, you will need: the premise number, tenancy contract number with the legalizing body, for instance, Ejari number, Landlord's passport copy, tenant's passport copy, Emirates ID of tenants, security deposit payment and you will complete the form. However, online payment reduces the hassle of going to the office and being on a queue. Online registration requires a fewer documents such as:

  •  Emirate's ID
  • Tenancy legalization numbers (Ejari or Tasdeeq number).
  • Passport number.
  • Payment of the required deposit amount.

In summary, the process of renting an apartment in the UAE will be relatively easy when you follow this renter's guide. However, bear in mind that most of the decision making will be yours to take for the most desirable home of your choice.

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