Contract

So, once you have found a property, you’ll need to sign a tenancy contract and pay the 5% deposit required to secure the property; an official RERA template can be downloaded at ejari.ae, although your agent or landlord is ultimately responsible for this. Only a Dubai resident can sign a tenancy contract, so you cannot rent a property if you are still on a visit visa; however, by this stage you should have your residence visa stamped. 
 
All tenancy/rental contracts must be registered through RERA’s online Ejari service; this is required by law to safeguard the rights of both the tenant and the landlord. You will need an Ejari-registered contract in case you need to dispute a rent increase, eviction etc. For a lease to be registered with Ejari, the landlord must have an official title deed for the property – so always check this before handing over your deposit.
 
Once you have the keys to the property you can register the tenancy contract. Visit any Ejari typing centre with your tenancy contract (see ejari.ae for locations), Resident ID or passport copy for landlord, a copy of the security deposit receipt, and your Resident ID and passport. Pay the fee of Dhs.195 and your Ejari-registered contract (called a Tenancy Contract Registration Certificate) will be ready for collection within three days.
 
Your rental contract will cover the financial terms, the length of the rental and who is responsible for maintenance; since payments are usually made through post-dated cheques, make sure that payment terms are clearly stated. Before signing on the dotted line, you should also check the following:
  • Maintenance: Some rents might be fully inclusive of all maintenance and repairs, while you could negotiate a much cheaper rent (particularly on older properties) if you agree to carry out any maintenance work.
  • Utilities: While not common, some landlords will include DEWA/utility expenses in the rent.
  • Security deposit: This can sometimes be negotiated, but Dhs.5,000 to Dhs.10,000 is standard.
  • Parking: Landlords do not have to provide parking, so check first if there is an additional fee for underground or covered parking.
  • Home improvements: Is DIY and decorating allowed in the property?
  • Pets: Are they permitted and are there any restrictions on the type of pet? In some apartments, cats are permitted but dogs are not; there are seldom such restrictions in villas.
  • Gardens: If in a villa, are you responsible for the maintenance? This can become costly due to arid conditions and the amount of water needed. A well and pump can be installed for between Dhs.1,500 and Dhs.3,000, which may work out more cost effective in the long run.
Once you have your tenancy contract, and only then, you will be able to apply for services, such as DEWA water and gas utilities, internet, and TV.

Renewals & Rent Rises
Rental contracts are valid for one year, after which they can be renewed for another year. Under Dubai tenancy laws, a tenancy contract does not terminate automatically. Instead, it renews on the same terms until you or the landlord agree to change the terms or end it. If the landlord wants to increase the rent, he must give you 90 days’ notice before the end of the contract; likewise, if you want to move out of the property you must give notice 90 days’ prior to the end of the contract.

If the landlord wants to evict you, he must give 12 months' notice via notary public or registered mail, and state the exact reason. There are four circumstances under which a landlord can serve a notice for eviction on expiry of the tenancy contract: to demolish or add to the premises, making it unliveable; for repair or maintenance; to recover the premises for personal use or for a next of kin; or to sell the property. There is legal action you can take if the landlord vacates the property for any reason other than that stated.

A landlord can now increase your rent after just one year; prior to 2013 it was two years.
 
Landlords can now raise rents annually based on prevailing market conditions, since the government removed the 5% rent cap at the end of 2013; landlords are able to increase rents by up to 20%, which overrides the previous 5% rental cap. There are restrictions though: the maximum increase is 10% if the property falls 21-30% below market rates and 15% if the property is 31-40% under average rents.  
 
If your landlord does try to increase the rent unfairly then you can raise a dispute through the Dubai Rental Disputes Settlement Centre. Check the rent cap calculator at ejari.ae to receive the increase cap and average rental for your requested area and unit. 

Also note that if you wish to change the name of the person on the rental contract, then the revised contract is classed as new, and thus the rental cap does not apply. And an agent may charge a fee for drawing up a new contract. All tenants livining in rented accommodation should be listed on the lease or they have no legal entitlement to stay in the premises, unless permission is given in writing from the landlord.

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