Originally Posted by Bigjimbo
I thought that this might be useful for the forum, as it is a topic that comes up a lot, and is probably too big to be a section of the "read before posting" sticky.
When first coming to Dubai, one of the first things many people do is decide where to live. Depending on where they are coming from they have different expectations of the process. I will attempt to give a general guide that everyone can use!
In Dubai the rental contracts are for a fixed term of one year from the start date. As of today (10/9/2011) there is a legal requirement that obligates the landlord to offer the same terms the following year, however this is superceded by the actual terms on the contract, so read read them carefully.
It is legally impossible to rent a long term apartment without a valid residence visa. However the banks will allow you to open an account with a letter from your company stating that the visa is under process. This is somewhat a grey area, as DEWA will also accept this. If for any reason your visa does not happen you will forfeit any legal right to money spent on rent for the apartment.
Many landlords will only accept payment in one to four cheques. These cheques are payable at the start of the contract and in the event that you have agreed to pay in more then one, the others are post dated. This is very important as the cheques are more then just a method of payment in Dubai, they are a legally enforced bond, and there can be serious consequences if you don't cover the funds.
Generally there is a period of notice at the end of a contract, within which you tell the landlord whether or not you are staying. If you fail to give notice, then legally you are bound to renew on the same terms. This is really important as you don't want to be bound into two contracts if you have found a new place.
Only make cheques payable to the registered owner. The only way of checking the owner is to see the title deed, or the sales contract. Either of these are valid proof. You may also make payment to a power of Attorney (poa). In this instance it is wise to have the POA document checked. There are commonly in Arabic, and will sometimes be dated and should always have the court stamps and stickers attached. If its a copy and you have doubts,then ask to see the original.
Everyones favorite people! There is a massive variety of people who operate in Dubai as real estate agents, reflecting the general diversity of the population. These differing people work to different ethics and standards, and you will have to find someone you trust and are comfortable working with. A word of warning however, most agents do not have very high professional standards, and will generally not respond to emails, texts etc. There are others that do but they are a minortiy.
The main source of properties in Dubai is a website called Dubizzle.com. Most agents in Dubai will put there properties on there on a daily basis. An important difference in Dubai as opposed to the UK is that there is no sole agency system in Dubai. A landlord can as will give his property to many different agents. This leads to problems when trying to arrnage viewings, as it is not uncommon to view the same property with different agents. It is also fairly common for an agent to send a client directly to a property without going to meet them. This leads to further issues such as doors being locked, or walking in on people who have just moved in. In order to avoid these occurances there are a few steps you can take, such as booking viewings a day in advance, and reconfirming an hour before you go. Ask who you are going to be meeting, and where. Try to confirm which apartment/villa you are going to see and check you haven't seen it already. If you find an apartment you like, only put the offer through the agent who showed you it. By shopping for a better price through a different agent, the landlord will think that there are several interested parties and will be firmer on his price. Also try to only see properties that an agent has direct, as if there are more agents invloved they will try to charge more commisssion to make it worthwhile.
The agent is responsible for arranging all the paper work, and drawing contracts. Before handing over any money you should see all the ownership documents, and also make sure that the agent is registered with RERA, as it is illegal to deal with an unauthorised free lance agent. Try to do the paper work in their office and NEVER make rent cheques payable to an agent unless they have a valid POA. Check the POA with the court if the agent is claiming to be the POA.
Almost as popular as agents! Every property in Dubai needs to have DEWA connected. Dubai Electric and Water is exactly that. On top of the actual amount of each that you use you will also be liable for a housing fee. This is essentially a tax collected through DEWA. The amount is 5% of the total rent for the year, split into monthly payments. You can pay DEWA online, at petrol stations, or a variety of other places.
If you live in an apartment, depending on the area you may also have a chiller fee. This is where the AC is centralised and charged per apartment. All of the Palm and JBR is like this, as are some towers on the Marina and Downtown. You need to check how much this fee is as it can be scary, and make a cheap apartment look like less of a bargain.
Depending on where the property is determines who the service supplier is for TV, interent and Landline. It will be either Du or Etisalat, and there is no choice in the matter. They are both fairly expensive, and make sure you choose the package you want in the beginning as changing it is heartbreakingly difficult.
Gas supply changes from building to building, with most just being a simple canister arrangement, but check when you are viewing a property that you think you will like.
Difficult one this, and I will only give a very brief overview.
Very popular with families. Range from 2 bed townhouses to 6 bed Hattan villas. Prices from about 75k to 340k
Very popular with everyone. Bit noisy, massively varying quality in the different towers. Stick to developments by Emaar, Cayan, Trident and you will find a nice apartment. If you are a bigger family or have a bigger budget then the Original 6 is probably the best development.
Possibly the best place to live in Dubai! (I am biased!) Good mix of villas and apartments. All a little bigger then the norm in the Marina. Goes from modestly priced to very expensive. Contact me for specific information.
This covers all the big towers of Shiekh Zayed and all the Emaar area around Dubai Mall. Very popular place, like the Marina but possibly better siuated with more amenities. DIFC is very close and is an upcoming area of Dubai
Good mix of lower priced apartments, and again an area that is improving daily, with the development being finished and shops and ameninites setting up there.
Very nice lower priced family area with a nice mix of shops and facilities, and low and high rise apartments.
Not a big fan myself, but close to the Mall Of Emirates and all the attendant facilities. Good liks to the Metro as well.
The older part of Dubai. A lot less western then the other areas mentioned, but no worse for it. Massive diversity of apartments and villas, and you would have to source a specialist too guide you through.
Ranges from exclusive to dilapidated, and again an area that specialist agents have made their own. Source a good one and be guided
Cheap and cheerful housing, larger than many other areas mentioned, but several pitfalls. Large parts of this area are directly under the flightpath of DXB, and it can be very noisy. The villas are independantly owned and maintenance can be hit and miss.
I am not a fan of this development at all, but there are positives, such as easy access to the shops bars and restaurants, and of course the beach, but the apartments are dark, with tiny balconies, and funny layouts
The standard of finishing in Dubai is not always as you'd hope and expect for such a new place. Moving into a brand new building is always a gamble, as there are nightmare stories that I have encountered. Be prepared to have to wait considerable amount of time to have problems rectified.
When starting a new lease it is fair to expect it to be painted afresh, but make sure you request it. It is also understood that you will repaint when leaving. This amount can and is deducted from the security deposit at the end of the tenancy.
This is all I can think of at the moment, but I will add to it as I remember other stuff, and I hope it helps some people through the process!