When Renting in Dubai: Key Considerations for American Expats

April 9, 2024

With its towering skyscrapers, luxury shopping malls, and vibrant culture, Dubai, the dazzling jewel of the Middle East, beckons many American expats to its shores each year. If you are one of them planning a move to Dubai but are uncertain where to begin the rental process, you are in the right place.

Before you get to this glamorous lifestyle, there are essential steps to take, from understanding rental laws to meeting various requirements. Today, we'll guide you through everything you need to know before renting property in Dubai.

Make Thorough Research

The first step in renting a property in Dubai is doing research, which you are actually doing right now. Dubai's rental landscape is quite complex, so you might find yourself entangled in questions like, Where can I find a reliable broker? How do I get a cheap rental apartment? What location is most suitable? etc.

Thorough research can help you navigate this maze and find the perfect home that suits both your lifestyle and budget.

Assess Your Needs

Done with the research part? Now, it’s time to understand your needs. Make a list of must-haves and preferences for your rental property, including size, bedrooms, amenities, and specific features. This helps narrow down your options and save time.

Make Financial Preparations

Here is a breakdown of the necessary costs of renting a property in Dubai:

Agent Fees and Security Deposits

Before signing the lease, anticipate agent fees and security deposits, which typically range from 2% to 5% of annual rent for agents, 5% for unfurnished properties, and 10% for furnished properties as security deposits in Dubai.


As is obvious, you need to factor in utilities and DEWA expenses. DEWA registration requires a refundable security deposit of approximately $544 for flats and $1089 for villas, with activation charges ranging from $27 to $81.

Ejari Fee

All rental agreements in Dubai must be registered with the Ejari system. Your real estate agent can assist with this process to ensure compliance with local regulations. The online registration with the Ejari contract costs $42.2, with some additional fees.

Additional costs

Besides these main costs, consider additional expenses, such as legal expenses, moving costs, cleaning services, and potential maintenance expenses.

Understand Legal Requirements

As a tenant in Dubai, you are entitled to legal protection of your rights. Joining Ejari, which translates to "my rent" in Arabic, is one way to ensure the landlord is not violating your rights.

Furthermore, Rera's quarterly rental index must be the foundation for any rent increase. If your rent is below market value, your landlord can legally adjust it using a formula to align with market rates.

Know Documentation Requirements

Once you are familiar with all the necessary rental laws and regulations, the next step is documentation. Renting a property in Dubai involves a paper trail longer than Sheikh Zayed Road. Here is what you need to rent a property in Dubai:

  • Passport copy
  • Visa copy
  • Bank statement
  • Emirates ID copy
  • Salary certificate
  • Ejari certificate
  • Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA) registration

Read the Contract Carefully

In Dubai, landlords commonly opt for fixed-term contracts, which are agreements between the landlord and tenant to adhere to specified terms within a set timeframe. Typically, these rental agreements span one year.

Being a tenant, you need to understand the contract carefully before signing anything. Ask questions of the landlord or real estate agent to ensure clarity. Also, make sure the rental contract has the following information,

  • Duration of the agreement
  • Amenities provided
  • Associated costs
  • Accepted payment methods
  • Maintenance responsibilities

Understand Payment System

One thing that may surprise many expats about rental agreements in Dubai is that landlords rarely accept monthly rent payments. Instead, they typically prefer rent to be paid through checks, either in a single check or spread across multiple checks, often up to four. So, if you are used to monthly rent, this may feel alien to you. However, if you can’t settle for such upfront costs, you can request that your broker find landlords that accept monthly payments.

Inspect the Property

Regardless of how much the property's aesthetic appeal may entice you, be sure its features and state meet your requirements. Until you find the ideal one, attend multiple viewings and conduct thorough inspections to avoid regrets later on.

Negotiate and Finalize the Deal

Researching in the initial stages might’ve given you an idea of the market rates. So, based on this knowledge, employ negotiation strategies to secure favourable terms in your tenancy agreement.

Besides, review all contract clauses carefully, verifying compliance with Ejari requirements, before finalising the agreement. Finally, coordinate with the landlord or property management for a smooth move-in process, settling any outstanding dues or queries.

Final Words

Renting in Dubai can be an exciting and rewarding experience for American expats, but it's essential to approach the process with careful consideration and preparation. By understanding the local rental market, familiarising yourself with the legal framework, and identifying your must-haves, you can find the perfect home in this vibrant city and make the most of your time abroad.


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