Homefront: 'How do I negotiate a lower rent with my landlord in the UAE?'

The JLT resident wants a reduction in light of falling rates in the area

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - January 23, 2019: General View of skyscrapers and buildings for hotels and residential homes. Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019 at JLT, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak/The National
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My rent is up for renewal again and I want to negotiate a lower rate. Many of my friends are securing better deals, but my landlord is being a little sticky on the issue. I have lived in my two-bedroom, Jumeirah Lakes Towers apartment for four years and currently pay Dh130,000. We have kept the rent the same for the last two years because of falling rates in the area but now I want a reduction. I don't want to move because of the cost and upheaval but I have seen much better deals out there. Can you please give me your top tips to help me secure lower rent with my current landlord? LP, Dubai 

The most important thing to consider when potentially altering a rental contract is that you have to communicate the changes (in writing) to the landlord at least 90 days prior to the expiration of the contract. If you have missed this window, you will not be able to alter its contents at all. If, however, you still have time, the key to success lies in the preparation.

Firstly, I would ensure you do all your homework regarding the price. You can do this quite easily by visiting property portals such as propertyfinder.ae and bayut.com and filtering your search to specify the tower and type of unit you are living in, which will give you a fairly accurate range of what is available on the open market. Such websites also give current trends and reports regarding property prices for sale or rent in their blogs. You can find these either at the top or bottom of the homepages.

From this point, you will be able to come up with a reasonable rent to reflect current prices. You can arm yourself with additional facts and figures through newspaper websites, which usually report property price trends on a regular basis.

It is important to note that the Rera rental calculator does not really help you when the rental market is soft. This is due to the fact that the calculator is only updated once a year and therefore is not as accurate as it ought to be for reduced rental price renegotiations.

Hopefully you will have maintained a good working relationship with your landlord. Good tenant/landlord relationships are vital in ensuring any period of renting goes smoothly, given there are many factors to consider that could flare up into potential conflicts such as maintenance, early contract termination and the cost of rent, just to mention a few. Obviously the actual contract outlines many obligations, but it is the relationship aspect that determines how potential flash points are resolved. With this in mind, it is important that you have a bit of room left in your negotiations. By this, I mean do not necessarily go in so hard in order to succeed and try to have a win-win scenario for both parties. You said you do not want to move out, so remember this when pressing your points across.

Once you have decided what is the right rent to pay based on all the factors mentioned, organise a face-to-face meeting with your landlord to ensure nothing is taken out of context through a phone or email conversation. This meeting could take place in your apartment over a coffee. It is a chance to demonstrate that you are looking after the property and explain you are happy to remain.
Assuming you have a reasonable landlord and given the current level of rents in today's property market, I don't believe it will be too difficult to negotiate a lower rent. Ultimately you do hold a potentially winning hand because if you're not entirely satisfied with proceedings, you could move out and this may cause the landlord loss of income due to potential void periods while trying to find a new tenant.

To summarise:
• Do your research on prices through property portals
• Gather information on overall rental rate trends from the internet
• Organise a face-to-face meeting
• Remember to leave some room in your negotiations
• Look for the win-win scenario

Mario Volpi is the sales and leasing manager at Engel & Volkers. He has worked in the property sector for 35 years in London and Dubai

The opinions expressed do not constitute legal advice and are provided for information only. Please send any questions to mario.volpi@engelvoelkers.com