How to be a Dubai Landlord from Abroad


January 25, 2020

In today’s digitized and interconnected world, you can live and work from anywhere. It’s easier than ever to manage your rental properties in Dubai as an overseas landlord. It’s also extremely common. Instead of selling their homes when they move, many expats opt to rent them out as a means of income and to secure a home base.

Cutting out the middle-man will certainly save you some money, but it will also mean significant extra work. This will include searching for tenants, managing maintenance, and collecting monthly rent. Juggling all of this from a different time zone and without any local assistance will cause you a great deal of stress. But worry not. This guide will help you master how to be a non-resident landlord in the UAE.

 

Acquiring a Dubai property to let

Business, employment, real estate, and tourism are markets that are all accelerating in the UAE. In order for people from abroad to be able to conduct business, the UAE government has developed specific visas to accommodate varying situations. One of these is the UAE investor visa, of which there are two types.

investors visa application form

10-year general investor visa (without a sponsor)

To be eligible for this visa, a foreign investor must have at least AED 10M public investment in the UAE. The investor can make this investment without a sponsor in any one of the seven emirates in the UAE. 

The conditions are:

  • Ensure that within the total investment of AED 10M,  60% of that amount of the total investment is made in sectors other than the real estate market
  • Proof that the amount invested is not loaned
  • Investment must be maintained for at least three years
  • The investment should have financial solvency for the amount of AED 10M
  • Investors holding a 10-year visa may include an executive director and an advisor (other than their children or spouse)
  • This visa may be extended to business partners under the condition that each contributes an investment of AED 10M
  • Foreign investors can apply for a multiple-entry permit for a six-month period

5-year real estate investor visa (without a sponsor) 

To be eligible for this type of visa, entrepreneurs must have an existing project with the capital amount of AED 500,000. A multi-entry visa is also allowed to entrepreneurs for six months. It can later be renewed for another six months. The entrepreneurs may include a partner and three executives (other than their spouse or children). 

Outstanding students can also opt for a 5-year visa with the condition that they attain high percentiles of over 95% or a GPA of at least 3.75 upon graduation. Such students can also include families on their long-term visas. 

The conditions are:

  • It is required to invest in a property that is not less than AED 5M
  • Proof that the amount is not loaned
  • Property must be retained for at least three years

 

How to buy-to-let in Dubai

The UAE offer a fertile climate in which to invest in a buy-to-let property, mainly due to high demand and short supply of quality international-style accommodation. The buy-to-let market in Dubai allows investors to benefit from yields of an average of 6-10%. Despite the fact that Dubai is a property management and leasing location, buying a property to let will require cautious thought in several areas. Including whether or not the property is ideally located (depending on if it’s for the tourist or expatriate market), analysis of amenities and accessibility to airports and roads as well as what type of tourist will be visiting. 

 

Look for local help

Being an overseas landlord is only really possible if you have the right kind of local connections. Employing professionals who have the know-how in Dubai's real estate will take a great load off your shoulders. 

a leasing representative sitting in his office with clients

A leasing representative

A leasing representative (or agent) will do part of the job for you and will work with you to help you rent out your freehold property in Dubai. They will advertise your property to potential renters and assist you in finding great tenants. Also, they will list the property for rent and promote it through websites and flyers. Some may even contract photographers to take photos of the property, or they may simply do this themselves. However, keep in mind that a leasing agent cannot manage a property. 

An eviction representative

An eviction is always possible, no matter how amazing the tenants are. If you find yourself contemplating an eviction, it's important to know how to handle it and what to expect during the process. In Dubai, depending on what has been agreed, there are three alternatives: landlord-only break, a tenant-only break or a mutual break option. 

In the case that you decide to go through with the eviction, it's best to hire an eviction representative. They will take care of everything for you. From serving eviction notices to representing you at eviction hearings. Remember though, specific laws are different depending on where your property is located. For this reason, you should always make sure that you're acting according to the law.

Contractors of all skill levels and specialists

The odds are your real estate investment will need some work before it’s rentable. That’s where local contractors come in. They are also great for jobs that aren't construction. They typically provide services for remodeling, repair, and redesign. They will have to be skilled at all levels and you will definitely need specialists who work with plumbing, electrical, roofs, basements, etc. Be sure to also have the contact info of versatile Dubai handymen, who can quickly and affordably tackle all the minor problems that might appear. 

 

Seeking out an all-in-one solution

If you have a property that you’re interested in renting out but don’t want to deal with the hassle of searching for tenants and maintaining the space, then a company like Blueground is what you need. Blueground is more than just your typical Dubai property management company because we take care of absolutely everything. Meaning, we furnish the apartment, set a competitive lease price, find trustworthy tenants and maintain the property throughout. We work with a host of non-resident landlords living outside of Dubai who entrust their property to Blueground all while benefiting from year-round passive income.

 

Establish a way to communicate

Living overseas can make it more difficult to communicate not only with your tenants but also with anyone you have hired to help manage your property. However, it is essential to have a practical way to speak to each other in case of any issues. Try to establish a specific set of hours that suits both parties, despite a time difference. Also, determine the best method of contacting each other, whether it be a phone call, text message, email, etc. 

 

Online property management automation

If you’re handling your property from abroad, then going online is essential. Not only is it necessary, but also it will be an asset to you for several reasons. For instance:

  • Reduced costs
  • Greater accessibility
  • Easier collaboration
  • Increased security
  • Simple backup and recovery
  • Scalability 

Online rental listings

This is very straightforward. You simply list your properties for rent online through a service that syndicates it to several popular platforms. You need to make sure you have a good batch of photos for each rental unit (either vacant or staged), that you can post in future rental listings. If you aren’t there to supervise a professional photographer, your leasing representative can take on the job for you. Some of the best online rental listings in Dubai are:

  • Property Finder
  • Dubizzle
  • Bayut

Rental application and tenant screening reports

When receiving rental applications, you’ll want to ensure that your potential new renter is in the clear. This can be done through a background and credit check which can both be completed online through different platforms. 

a man filling out a rental application on his computer

In Dubai, however, six steps are typically taken when taking a new tenant. 

  • Criminal records: you can request a Certificate of Good Conduct from your tenant, which can be retrieved from the Dubai Police Department
  • Credit and background checks in their home country: if the interested tenants are from abroad, you can seek out a credit check from their home country 
  • Social media platforms: searching for your tenant’s name on social media can provide you with a lot of extra information. Make sure the information online matches up with their profile as a tenant
  • Calling previous landlords: calling a previous landlord is one of the best ways you can get a piece of mind before approving a tenant
  • Employment verification: a rule of thumb among landlords is to multiply the apartment’s monthly rent by 40. If the multiplied amount is still under the tenant’s annual income, they should be able to make rent

Lease with a digital signature

On any good online landlord automation platform, once you select your chosen applicant, it automatically imports their information into a lease for you. You then click a button to digitally sign it, and the tenant can do the same. Simple as that!

Automated rent collection

Take a few minutes to set up an online rent collection through the service of your choice. Then you never have to worry about paper checks, cash, deposits, or any other 20th-century rent headaches again.


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