Tuesday, 7 October 2008

It's just like the Wild West

I've finally found myself an apartment in Dubai, so my time as a resident of Sharjah is finally coming to an end. :)

Which brings me to to todays topic. I've had it up to here [indicates the top of baldy patch on head] with Dubai Landlords and Estate Agents. I've been looking at properties for about a month and have walked away from three potential deals so far.

Agent / Landlord No 1:
I'd found a reasonable apartment for rent in Dubai Marina which was OK. I arranged to go to the estate agents office to pay the deposit and sign the contract. Firstly the agent told me that the office was near such-and-such, so I parked about half a km away and walked to the location in sweltering heat and found no such building. I phoned the agent and discovered that it was another half a km away in the opposite direction.

Eventually I arrived at the office and can't find he agency name on the board, or on the door. I go in and there is an office with desks and a few people, but little to suggest that this is an estate agency apart from a few random brochures scattered around. I was a little concerned about handing over significant quantities of cash to this motley crew and asked to see a letterhead or busness card...nothing. I then asked to see the contract and discovered that they had written in an illegal clause placing future unspecified maintenance costs on the tennant. I walked out.

Agent / Landlord No. 2
I found a really nice apartment, in a nice block, in a nice area and I was quite excited about it. It was stretching my budget to the maximum, but I decided that it was worth it. While driving to meet the agent (after nearly an hours drive), five minutes before parking the car the agent phoned to tell me that the landlord now wanted an extra 5000 dirhams (nearly a thousand pounds). I said that wasn't on and was about to head back to the office, but the agent persuaded me to meet. When I explained that I was unable to pay the entire years rental up front, but could probably manage two cheques, the rent went up another 5000 dirhams. The landlord also tried to impose a one year non-renewable contract so that he wouldn't be bound by the Dubai 2 year rental increase prohibition laws. I walked out again.

Agent / Landlord No. 3
I went to see another apartment that I liked it was advertised for one amount, however the rent increased by 5000 dirhams while I was viewing. I liked the apartment, but decided again on principal, to walk away from that.

Agent / Landlord No. 4
Finally I found a smaller apartment in the same block as the second apartment and my agent actually negotiated a reduced rent because of the aprtment size. Whoohoo, there are some good people out there afterall. Thanks Carolyn!

Anyway I move tomorrow into an unfurnished apartment. It has a fridge, so the beer will be cold, but nothing else. I'm thinking of buying the camping equipment that I'll need for camping in the desert in the winter and just camp in my apartment for a few days.

The prices of renting property have gone through the roof. I cannot believe that it's sustainable. Housing allowances don't cover rentals any more (at least not in my line of work). I pay double the rent for a small one bedroomed apartment in Dubai as I'm receiveing in rent for a 3 bedrromed house in Scotland. I am also expected to pay a full years rental up front. It's absolute madness. The new property being built here is mostly aimed at the upper end of the market, I have no idea who it is who's buying or renting them.

The people who need accomodation are the expat workers building Dubai. When the building is largely done and the expats leave, who's going to live here. I think it's a pyramid scheme on a massive scale, which will all end in tears. I'm intrigued to see how this market rides out the current "Credit Crunch". The winners at the moment are the estate agents, but in my personal experience, there are a lot of cowboys amongst them. There is no accreditation or legislation for agents and it is a complete free-for-all. Maybe I'm in the wrong line of work.

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