Renting in Abu Dhabi is full of mis-information, smoke and mirrors to catch the unwary. Here is your complete guide, step by step, to renting a property. Never be confused again. This is an abbreviated version of the guide, for the full guide please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
When To Start Looking – The best time to start looking will be a month to three weeks before you want to move. Any earlier than this and what you’ve seen may no-longer be available, as you can usually only book a property about two/three weeks before you want to move in.
What to Have Ready to Rent – to sign your contract you need a visa and emirates ID. Make sure these are at least in an advanced stage before starting your search.
How to Pick Your Guide (Broker/Agent). If you’ve been here any length of time you will have heard about how terrible the Brokers/Agents are, and many of them are. Luckily for you there is a great way round the bad ones – just get a recommendation. All the brokers have access to exactly the same units in Abu Dhabi so there is no need to trawl Dubizzle to find the unit you want, just tell your broker.
The Places You Will See. Landlords in Abu Dhabi point blank refuse to start maintenance/cleaning until they have a new tenant signed and sealed, so you are likely to see a fair few dirty places on your travels.
Pets – In lots of towers and compounds you will not be allowed pets, be allowed cats only, small dogs or you may be required to send a picture to the management to get permission for your dog!
Parking – Most of the newer units will come with parking (though usually only one place – some three/four beds will have two), otherwise you will need to get on-street (Mawaqif) parking (800 AED for the first permit 1200 AED for the second permit, per year).
The Offer and Acceptance Process
- To make the offer you’ll need a passport copy at a minimum.
- You will then get an Offer Letter from the landlord (some landlords do not give offer letters but the bigger managers do). This letter reserves the property for you, usually for three working days (this can be more).
- Once you have put down your deposit the landlord will prepare the tenancy agreement for you (government companies have their own contracts). Do not expect to get a signed copy from the landlord, they will almost never sign until you have signed first, and often not until they have your cheques as well.
- Once you have paid your cheques the landlord will generate aTawtheeq Agreement (they will not do this before) – this is the official Municipality contract which will register your tenancy with the Abu Dhabi Municipality.
- The other document you should collect from the landlord’s office is the ADDC (water and electricity) clearance for your unit. You will need this to transfer the Water and Electricity into your name (and turn it back on if it is off).
Note – You need Tawtheeq Contract and an ADDC account if you want to get a visa for your family here.
What You Will Need to Pay
Deposit – The usual practice is 5% of the total rent or AED 10,000.
Rent – Almost all landlords require one year’s rent up front in either one or two cheques (the second cheque will be post-dated for 6 months time). On occasion you can get three cheques or more but this is rare. Please note that it is illegal in Abu Dhabi to combine your housing allowance with that of your husband/wife.
Tenancy Assistance Fee – A source of much debate, all agents will charge you 5% of the first years rent of the property as a Tenancy Assistance Fee for helping you in your search. Most large landlords and managers (such as Aldar, Khidmah, TDIC, FGP etc) will charge you 5% of the first years rent even if you go direct, they split this with a broker if you’re using one so you should never pay more than 5% in total.
Before you Move in
Snagging list – Get your agent to go around the property with you and the landlord’s representative and make a list of items that need to be fixed.
Cleaning and Pest Control – The landlord is under no obligation to clean or pest control your property over and above what it required to make it habitable. Most landlords will clean and re-paint, though their view of what constitutes clean may vary from yours.
ADDC Connection (Water and Electricity) – If your unit doesn’t have the water and electricity turned on already then you will need to visit your local ADDC office before the cleaning takes place (as they can’t clean with no electricity) and get it connected. To get your utilities connected before your tenancy start date you will need a letter from the landlord giving you permission. If your water and electricity is already on then you will just need to transfer it into your name once you move in to make sure the bills come to you.
Handover – Your tenancy start date is upon you. Leave an extra day in your old apartment/villa/hotel in case of slippage. Go to the handover with your agent to meet the landlord and sign any final documents, check the snag list to make sure everything is done and accept the keys for your unit.
Maintenance – All maintenance in Abu Dhabi is bad – if you’re having issues the best thing is to go to the landlord’s office and cause a fuss. Phone and email don’t work nearly as well as a personal complaint.
Call – +971 50 6145199