A tenant’s guide to answering the common renting questions in the UAE
The UAE’s rental market has a wealth of property options for residents to explore. Whether you’re on the hunt for your first apartment or are planning to move into a spacious family villa, you are bound to find a property that suits your needs. We have created a guide that answers some of the most common questions asked by tenants in the UAE to help you with your property hunt:
1) Can I negotiate for a lower rent?
Yes, tenants can negotiate their rent before renting a new property or renewing a current lease. If it’s the latter, a written request needs to be submitted in writing at least 90 days prior to the expiration of your lease. If you miss this window, you will not be able to alter the rental contract and a landlord is unlikely to negotiate. However, due to the current circumstances, you can contact your landlord at any time if your income has been affected by COVID-19 to discuss rent relief options applicable to you.
Before you fill in a request to lower your rent, ensure you conduct some research to find the current market rates and the price range in your apartment complex or area. This can be done easily by dubizzle – you can filter your search to specify your building or area to see the approximate price of what’s available on the open market. Along with this, you can arm yourself with property price trends and reports by real estate forecast companies updated quarterly to help you negotiate a fair price.
2) Can I renovate my house?
As a tenant, you are not permitted to make any structural changes, including painting, fixtures, or fittings, without the landlord’s written permission. If the tenant makes changes to the property without the prior knowledge and confirmation of the landlord, the landlord is allowed to evict the tenant immediately without giving back the security deposit.
3) Who pays for maintenance and utilities?
According to the tenancy laws, the landlord is responsible for undertaking all maintenance in the property unless the two parties agree otherwise. Some tenancy contracts in the country have the landlord liable for both major and minor maintenances, while others put only the major maintenance as the responsibility of the landlord and minor maintenance as the responsibility of the tenant. Major maintenance includes any defects or wear and tear with equipment like AC, water pumps, water heaters, etc. and minor maintenance includes faults such as leaking faucets, damaged light bulbs and blocked drains.
Utility bills such as DEWA, telephone, internet, and housing fees are registered under the tenant’s name and are paid by the tenant.
4) Can I sub-lease my rental property?
Tenants can sublease the property to another tenant only if they receive prior written and signed consent from the primary landlord and comply with the rules of the Emirates. Not getting a signed confirmation from the landlord on subletting can lead to a hefty fine and immediate eviction. The number of tenants or sub-tenants allowed to share a property depends on the size and area of the property. Also, note that the sub-tenancy contract must expire on the same date as the original tenancy contract and the same eviction laws apply to both the original and sub-tenants.
5) Can the landlord increase my rent?
Rental prices are governed by the Rental Index issued by RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Agency). Increases are allowed depending on the current market rates. Landlords in Dubai can only increase rent according to the RERA Calculator. However, the landlord should inform the tenants of the increase in rent at least 90 days before it is implemented. Tenants can use the RERA calculator to see if the rent increase is fair and raise a complaint with the appropriate authorities if it isn’t.
6) How do I get my security deposit back?
While renting a property in the UAE or anywhere else, part of your upfront costs is the security deposit, usually set at five percent of the annual rent. When you decide to cancel the lease and move to another location, you are entitled to your deposit back from your landlord, given you’ve maintained the property in good condition. Below are some steps you can take to ensure you return the property to the state when you moved in to ensure you can get all or most of your deposit back:
- Read and understand your rental contract thoroughly
- Take images of the property when you first move in to make sure the landlord doesn’t charge you for any damages that were there before you moved in
- Pay your rent on time
- Repair any damages
- Repaint the walls
If you followed all these steps and your landlord still denies paying back your deposit you can file a rental dispute case with the Rent Disputes Settlement Centre.
Being a tenant in the Emirates is relatively simple once you understand all the basic rules. You can check out our blog post on tenant rights to learn more about your landlord’s obligations to you and vice versa.