Leasing residential units to visitors has been an ongoing practice in Dubai for a while because it suits owners who don’t want to rent out for long periods at a stretch, plus it is often seen as more profitable than the traditional one-year contract with a tenant. While the Dubai government has no inherent issues with short-term rentals, a new ruling does require that owners leasing for less than six months get a licence via the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) – or face a Dh5,000 fine.
This is normal in most markets as the practice is now being regulated everywhere. This stipulation also protects hotels from losing too much revenue. Short-term rentals provide a great way for people to save money while vacationing in the UAE. Global companies such as homeaway and Airbnb, are able to connect renters and landlords from around the world. However, these sites do not guarantee that every listing has the required licence. In the terms and conditions it stresses that advertisers are responsible for adhering to all local laws and regulations. Caroline Tinkle, Client Liaison Manager at propertfinder.ae is an expert on the global short-term rentals sector, and she believes the sector will go from strength to strength. “Vacation rentals was always a fairly major scene in Europe, but was slower to enter the US market. HomeAway’s strategy was to de-fragment a very fragmented marketplace, meaning numerous small sites were rolled into larger sites coupled with marketing and SEO efforts,” she said. “Airbnb has definitely benefitted from the millennial generation and social integration built into the site. Having Ashton Kutcher as an investor has not hurt Airbnb either.”
Simon Kennedy, Director at Edwards and Towers in Dubai believes the short-term rental market in this country is bringing great benefits. “Property owners get improved rental yields, the flexibility to use the property themselves throughout the year, and the ability to sell the property as vacant without being subject to RERA rental regulations,” he said. “In a slow sales market, many of our landlords are using this service as an opportunity to earn some money from their property while simultaneously marketing it for sale until the market improves and they can obtain the sales price they want.” He said his company generally sees two types of short-term renters. “There are corporate clients in Dubai for either a temporary work assignment or recently arriving in the UAE, who can stay with us while their visa is being processed without the need to spend a lot of money in hotels or hotel apartments. This cost saving is also beneficial for the second type of guest, the holiday makers, who can stay in an apartment or a villa where the cost per room is significantly less than a hotel – plus our properties offer similar facilities such as gym, pool, beach access, and restaurants.”
There are some barriers to entering this market though and Mat Zalk, Strategy Director at propertyfinder.ae, urges those considering it to ensure they comply with all UAE rules. “As well as the DTCM requiring a separate trade license be obtained for renting properties for less than six months, every short-term rental unit must also be permitted by Dubai Tourism,” he said. “There are also investment costs. Depending on the scenario, companies operating short-term rental properties may be required to invest in all of the elements that make a A new ruling means people renting out an apartment in Dubai as a holiday home must be registered with the DTCM. But just how big is this market right now? property fully furnished.
Though not terribly expensive on their own, white goods, furniture, silverware, bedding, and other items can be expensive across a portfolio of properties. Wear and tear from extensive usage only increases the investment required.” propertyfinder.ae has seen a slight decline in the number of short-termrentals available on its website, but this is due to the company only working with fully licensed, professional operators. “Prior to the implementation of the new licensing requirements that came into effect in June 2015, the market for brokering short-term furnished residential units was unregulated. As a result brokers were sometimes perceived as unprofessional. After implementing the licensing requirements, many agents that previously brokered short-term furnished residential units are no longer doing so,” explained Zalk.
Pros & Cons of short-term renting for travellers
– You can save a lot of money: It can be much cheaper to stay in a home rented through an online service rather than a hotel. Not only that, you can often get a lot more room for your money, making it particularly cost effective for families.
– Some hosts are fantastic: Many of the people who host short-term rentals go all out to make a guest’s stay as pleasant as possible. If you’re in a foreign country, a good host can be an excellent source of local information too
– You could get very lucky with your accommodation: Rather than stay in a sterile hotel room in a high-rise building, you may hit the jackpot and find space in a beautifully furnished, sprawling home. Or have a magnificent outdoor area basking in nature.
– Reservations may take time: Renting through an online short-term rental service is not as fast or as easy as booking a hotel room. Most listing websites require users to create an online profile; they may also require you to verify your ID and even provide a video
– Your rental place may not be secure: The place you stay may or may not have good locks, but it likely won’t be anywhere near as secure as a hotel. Airbnb in particular has, unfortunately, been hit with stories of robberies and attack
– Adverts and descriptions can be misleading: The adverts, photographs, and descriptions posted on short-term rental websites can be misleading or downright dishonest. In most cases you won’t know until you arrive just how good, or bad, your rental is.