Finding a house for rent in Dubai

You have landed in Dubai. Congratulations. Soon your company provided accommodation will run out  and you need to find a shelter for yourself and your family as soon as you can. Here is a quick guide to going about it.

When you land in the country for the first time, it will take you a few months before you can get your drivers license and therefore you will need to depend upon public transport for getting around places. Therefore, in order to decide where you should be staying, take a look at the map of Dubai Metro (here). Try to shortlist a few locations depending upon your workplace location and the connectivity of metro. Try to stick to the same line (red or greeen) as the location of your office so you don’t waste time switching metro lines. In case you already have a car, then you can consider moving away from the metros. However it might still be a good idea to be closer to one of the freeways – Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Khail, Emirates Road etc.

Affordability is another criteria to shortlist areas. The rents tend to be higher along Sheikh Zayed Road due to better connectivity with the rest of Dubai, while as you move towards Sharjah or the farther end of Dubai (read Discovery garden/Jebel Ali) the rents may get lower. A quick check for rentals prevailing in any area can be done on This website has the option of shortlisting properties by type, location, level of furnishing, budget etc.

Certain new Dubai areas such as Marina, JBR etc boast higher rents due to the premium quality of development.

Other than the budget, there are a few more things to consider:

1)  level of furnishings – Depending on your budget you can either look for a house with or without furnishings. The houses with furnishings tend to charge a 30%-40% higher rent and may also ask for a higher deposit. Certain buildings come with white goods – i.e. basic kitchen appliances such as cooking range, fridge and washing machine. The rents in such buildings are slightly higher but not much different from unfurnished houses. If you are going for an unfurnished apartment and working on a shoestring budget, try looking up Dubizzle for some amazing second hand furniture and appliances up for sale by expats who are frequently moving in and out of the country. There are various qualities of stuff available. Often the condition of the items is quite good given they have been used only for a year or 2 and are available at half price. On a shoestring budget, furnishing may cost you between AED 3,000 to 10,000 initially depending upon how much you want to splurge. And all that stuff will be yours, which you can later sell off for a price if you move out.

2)  Chiller cost – It might be an idea to check if the chiller in the building is free or chargeable separately. New buildings with central heating often have the chiller or cooling charges included in the rent, so you don’t have to pay for it separately in your utilities bill. This is a significant cost saver specially in the peak summer months when your DEWA bill could skyrocket.

3) Amenities – Swimming pool and gym are standard amenities in most new buildings these days, but it is good to check. Also survey the area to see if there are any playing areas for kids, groceries, laundry, restaurants nearby

4) Housekeeping – Certain fully furnished apartments in the downtown area also have weekly housekeeping service included in the rent. It is good to check if you are looking at fully furnished apartments

5) Brokerage and deposit – In most places there is a standard brokerage of 5% and a refundable deposit of 5% of the annual rent payable. Although there is not regulation as such and it might be different for some buildings. Better to check.

Once you have finalized a place, additional expenses to consider are:

1) Registration – Registrations cost around AED 300 and your broker will manage that for you. There is an optional EJARI registration as well with the government which is desirable but not mandatory. Your landlord will ask you to pay for it or you can get it done directly from RERA.

2) DEWA – If you are new to the country, an initial regitration will have to be done at the DEWA office to open an account and register your house number. You will need to carry your rent agreement and passport for this registration. For more information,cost etc.please visit DEWA website.

3) Cable / Internet – You will have to check which is the service provider in your building, there are certain areas catered by Du and others by Etisalat. Depending upon which service provider is covering your building, you will need to apply for a new connection. There are combined packages available for cable TV, internet and landline phone. Calls between landline phones are free in Dubai, so it might help to keep a landline for ordering groceries, chatting up with friends etc. For information on packages visit Etisalat or Du.

Important points to remember while negotiating:

1) Number of cheques – The norm is anything between 1 to 4 cheques. In case of a single cheque, the rent may be a bit discounted, but there is a risk that in case you move out mid period of your contract, then you might not get anything back from your landlord, therefore it is better to stick to 4 cheques, since it is easier on pocket and less risky. Since paying even three months rent in advance can be pain when you land in the country first, certain companies provide interest free loans to their employees for paying this rent. Check with your company if they have such a policy.

2) Notice period – There is no written regulation regarding terminating a rent agreement midway. The norm is generally 1 -2 months rent in penalty. You can try including a clause in the rent agreement specifying the notice in case of mid term termination and also penalty payable, if any, in order to avoid any disputes later.

3) Brokerage – Often the brokerage is payable even when you bypass a broker and go through building management directly.  Sometimes brokerage is negotiable.

Feedback on certain areas in Dubai:

JLT – There are several buildings in JLT area that have faulty cooling systems and the building management is non-responsive . This has inconvenienced  many residents with many having to move out and lose rent paid. In case you are considering JLT, it is better to speak with few residents in the building to see if there are any problems.

Discovery Gardens – Although the community is excellent, the approach to the community is very narrow which results in very long traffic jams during peak hours. Make sure you visit the place during peak hours to see if your building is located in the such stretches of high traffic

Old Dubai – Many old buildings in old dubai side have window air conditioners or very ancient cooling systems. These are not only inefficient but also more expensive to run.

Business Bay – Although the quality of houses is very good, but there is large level of construction going on in the area with many buildings in the construction stages which is likely to continue for some time. There are only a few groceries /restaurants near the metro station but if you go further inside, it will be difficult to find.

Jumeira Village Circle/IMPZ/ Dubai Land – Rents are lower, and you will see some very nice pictures of apartments in these areas, but these areas or still under development with little or no amenities and a vast expanse of nothingness to look outside your window.

Well, now you have all the information you need to start off the search for your dream home. If you have any other questions do leave a comment below. Go on and login to Dubizzle now!