How to be a Dubai Landlord from Abroad


January 15, 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. Many expats rent out their properties instead of selling them when they move abroad. This can provide income, ensure that they have a home base to return to, and make it easier to obtain future mortgages. 

Although it can be tempting to cut out the middle-man to avoid paying agency fees, this means a lot of extra work for you. Finding tenants, managing maintenance, and collecting rent can be extremely stressful. Especially when you’re doing all this from a completely different time zone and with no on the ground assistance. That’s why we’ve put together a guide for how to master the art of being a non-resident landlord in the UAE.

 

Acquiring a Dubai property to let

The UAE is a fast-growing market in the Middle East when it comes to business, employment, real estate, and tourism. 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, a foreign investor must have at least AED 10M public investment in the UAE. This investment can be made in any of the seven emirates in the UAE without a sponsor. 

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 retained for at least three years
  • There should be financial solvency of the investment for the amount of AED 10M
  • Investors with a 10-year visa can include an executive director and an advisor apart from their children and spouse
  • This visa can also be extended to business partners if each contributes an investment amount 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 can include a partner and three executives apart from their spouse and 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:

  • Mandatory to make an investment 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%. Although Dubai is a property management and leasing location, purchasing a property to let will involve careful consideration in many 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. Hiring professionals who are familiar with how the real estate scene works in Dubai will make your life a whole lot easier. 

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 prospective renters and help you find good tenants. Also, they will list the property for rent and promote it through websites and flyers. They may even work with photographers to take pictures of the property, or may simply take the pictures themselves. However, keep in mind that a leasing agent cannot manage a property. 

An eviction representative

Even with the best tenants, you may still run into the possibility of an eviction. If you are considering an eviction, you need to know how to go about it and what to expect during the process. In Dubai, depending on what has been agreed, there may be a landlord-only break option, a tenant-only break option or a mutual break option. 

If you find yourself having to evict someone, it’s a good idea to hire an eviction representative. They will serve eviction notices to ill-behaved tenants and appear on your behalf at eviction hearings. It is important to note that the specific laws may vary depending on where you own your property. So, be sure to check them ahead of time to ensure you are acting according to 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. Contractors are great for jobs other than just 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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