How To Rent In Dubai – And Avoid Getting Scammed!

If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that I rarely complain about anything on social media because I do not believe in oversharing nor do I believe in spreading negative energy.


Interior of the sleek, modern Emirates Hills home that was recently snatched up by an acquaintance.
I had the pleasure of visiting for drinks after dinner one night.
It is apparently one of the most expensive homes in Emirates Hill.

My past weekend has been less than ideal all because I had the bad luck of getting involved with an agency who despite having provided a proper contract and being licensed, still managed to mess up majorly.
Long story short, I was promised a certain rate before moving in. I checked this rate twice with my agent (I have the screenshot to prove it) and three months later, I was informed that my rent would increase by more than double. We were in the middle of negotiations when due to what was probably a communication issue within the company, I came home after work to a jammed lock. I realised I had been illegally evicted without notice. The lack of efficiency and the attitude of the staff further fueled my dissatisfaction. The weekend passed in a flurry. I was in and out of the police station six times and homeless for two nights (thank heavens for good friends!).

I will not be disclosing the name of the agency as defamation laws in Dubai are different from where you might come from and punishment for defamation is two years in prison or a fine of 20,000 AED.

In the UAE, making a publicised statement may be considered defamatory, if it makes someone liable for punishment or contempt, regardless of the statement being true and correct in nature.

– Ashish Mehta, Khaleej Times

Defamation is taken very seriously here so avoid posting negative reviews or saying anything negative about an individual, business and especially any government authorities or God forbid, the royal family on any public media outlet including personal social media accounts.
Due to my most unpleasant, recent experience, I would like for everyone else to be well-informed so that your renting process goes as smoothly as possible. Even as careful as I was, I ended up in…a bit of a pickle.

Short-term rentals
If you’ve just moved to Dubai, I would suggest you NOT to go for short-term rentals as that is where things get a little shady and where lines get blurred. In order for someone to rent their apartment or room out legally on platforms such as Airbnb, etc., it is necessary that they acquire a short-term rental license (also known as a holiday-home rental license).
Unfortunately, for many newcomers to Dubai, they are unaware of this and do not know they have the right to ask agencies to show proof of license which makes them vulnerable to scammers or illegal practices. Even licensed agencies might engage in illegal practices (such was my case!) so it is important to know your rights and do as much research as possible.

Solution: go for hotels! Dubai is in no shortage of hotels from grand, luxurious 5-star resorts to simple, budget-friendly hotels such as Rove, Ibis or Holiday Inn. Just be aware that hotels have the right to change their rates accordingly and can get very expensive starting from October.
Another option is to go for serviced hotel apartments. Address Hotels are an excellent option, as well as Damac.

Long-term Rentals
I’m still pretty new to Dubai but I would say anything less than a year is considered a short-term rental. If you’ve just landed yourself a shiny, new job and have decided to stay in Dubai long-term, wait until you’ve gotten your work visa to apply for Ejari which you will need for pretty much anything in relation to renting property in Dubai.

Some benefits and some tips…
– Long-term rentals are significantly cheaper than any short-term rental option.
Property Finder, Bayut and Dubizzle will be your friend.
– Be wary of agents who do not ask for Ejari and do not possess a holiday home license.
– The annual rent is the amount you see on websites minus water and electricity bills.
– Landlords or agents will ask to be pre-paid in one cheque or in 2-6 cheques. The less cheques you give them, the lower your rent.
– Agents usually take a deposit of 2-5% but I’ve noticed that they will sometimes ask for 10% because the annual rent isn’t over 100,000 AED? But then they will tell you they can negotiate for a lower fee…
– The security deposit is usually 5% of the annual rent for unfurnished flats, 10% for furnished flats.
– Make sure to give the flat back in the SAME condition it was rented to you. Take lots of photos. Some landlords will take this opportunity to nitpick at details so they deduct from your deposit when you move out.
– If you have a pet, make sure that the flat is pet-friendly. Due to the UAE being an Islamic country, dogs are widely considered dirty and there are steps as to how they must wash if they come into contact with a dog. This is why you rarely see dogs in Dubai. I would also suggest one to avoid petting dogs in public and then shaking someone’s hand (or touching them) as this might be considered rude. This was sad news as I am a dog lover but when in Rome…you know how it goes!

For more information on additional costs in regards to renting in Dubai, click here.

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