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Landlords in Dubai: the gallant, the gaffe and the downright gruesome

After signing your contract for your new job in Dubai one of the first challenges you are faced with is finding a property. Whether you are lucky enough to have a relocation agent alongside you or are undertaking to tackle this task alone, you will immediately notice that properties are advertised with an annual cost and an associated number of cheques. What does this mean?

It means that when you agree to the rental cost, you will also agree to submit a number of post-dated cheques. The law states that the rent should be paid in four equal installments, unless agreed otherwise.  Following the downturn in the market landlords were forced to become more flexible and accept multiple cheques and it was possible, though rare, for a landlord to accept up to 12 cheques. Having said this, the cheques are post-dated and presented once signing the contract. It is well worth noting that bouncing a cheque is illegal in the UAE, penalties are severe and can result in incarceration and deportation.  However, now rents are again going up Move One Relocations advise that tenants are once more being requested to pay again in 1 or 2 cheques.  In their experience it is only in ares such as: International City or Discovery Gardens where one can find a place for 12 cheques.

Bad news travels fast and of course sells newspapers, so for the past few years the media and expat forums have been riddled with horror stories about nightmare landlords. Most people are lucky and blessed with wonderful landlords but we all probably have at least one friend who has had a bad experience and lives to tell the cautionary tale. One family known to the Expat Echo Dubai team rented a property last year from a guy who had all the correct documents to make a contract however, when there was a major leak (the result of bad plumbing) that caused catastrophic damage the said landlord would not repair the damage.

In fact since moving into this house the family has received excessive water bills that appear to be linked to bad plumbing under the building. The landlord will not help to find a solution and is not interested in reimbursing any costs. Why? He has already cashed the security deposit, plus the rental payment and is not actually the landlord…he is a relation of the landlord. The real landlord lives in another country and will not reply to any correspondence. The tenants are stuck in this property because they have paid a huge annual rent upfront in one cheque and a security deposit.

In 2012 there were a few cases where real estate agencies were subleasing properties and then disappeared with many tenants cheques. It is important to check with RERA if the real estate agency is registered and if they have the legal right to sublease properties. There must also be a contract or Power of Attorney between the landlord and the real-estate agency stating that the real-estate agency can manage his property and collect rent under their name.

 We strongly advise readers to ensure that you see all the correct documents relating to the landlord prior to signing a lease. Also, make sure your contract includes a solid maintenance agreement and that you avoid getting emotionally attached to a property until the legal technicalities have been looked over. If your agent promises to do something for you, “I will get the landlord to repaint the villa,” get that promise in writing as once the agent gets their money you may not see them again.  Looking for a new home for your family is stressful and sometimes very time consuming. Never fall in love with a dream property because you are running out of time as it may come with many issues. First work on the legal technicalities before you allow you heart to make a connection.

Security deposits have to be paid on all properties. The agent will request the date on the security deposit to be the date of signing the contract but on investigating this subject it appears that this is not out of necessity. The security deposit can be dated to coincide with the expiry of the contract. Therefore on the final evaluation of the property the tenant and landlord can agree on the settlement.

We recommend that you visit the government website for more details on renting a property and to seek legal advice if you are unsure. Never believe everything you hear or see, take time to investigate and try your best to be vigilant at every step of the rental process.

– If you require the assistance of a Move One Relocation agent to help you with your home search, do not hesitate to contact us at

– If you’re a landlord of the gallant variety we’d love to hear from you and are confident you’ll be happy to work with us.  1Step Properties combines world class service with local expertise.

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