Homefront: ‘What documents prove that a real estate broker is licensed by UAE regulators?’

Tenants must only deal with agents who are registered with the Real Estate Regulatory Agency

Real estate agent showing kitchen in new house to happy couple
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I am currently searching for apartments to rent in Dubai. I have shortlisted a few units after going through listings on property websites. I have also gone for a few viewings accompanied by real estate agents. However, after hearing horror stories about real estate brokers taking customers for a ride, I am always wary of dealing with them.

Although I should not be making general assumptions about the industry based on a few bad examples, I would like to know what documents a customer can ask a broker to know they are verified and licensed to work in the UAE property market? How does one know if a broker is properly accredited and working for a legitimate company?

One broker I dealt with said he is currently undergoing training with the Dubai Land Department and offered to give me his manager’s broker card instead. Is this acceptable?

Also, what is the average commission a customer is expected to pay a broker for a leasing transaction? DN, Dubai

There are many thousands of brokers and real estate agencies to choose from and getting hold of the right ones can seem to be a daunting task.

I suppose your first contact with a broker would be whoever has the property that takes your interest from the many online portals. This is perfectly normal. By way of protecting yourself, you should always only deal with agents or brokers who are registered with the Real Estate Regulatory Agency in Dubai.

There are many agents who are new to their respective companies, who do indeed have to go through their Rera training. So, it is not uncommon to have paperwork signed by their managers. If you find yourself in this situation, ensure that at the very least, you deal with the manager and see evidence of the manager’s Rera credentials. This is in the form of a number that can be looked up on the Dubai Land Department website.

To be honest, it is quite rare these days to be dealing with unregistered agents as the DLD has worked very hard to eradicate freelancers.

Alternatively, you can also choose to go about your property search in another way. For example, instead of searching by specific property or area and hope that the agent you will subsequently deal with is legitimate, you can use the many property portals in order to search by individual brokers or their respective companies.

It is quite rare these days to be dealing with unregistered agents as the DLD has worked very hard to eradicate freelancers

Going to portals such as Property Finder and/or Bayut will help you to seek out registered brokers. You can search by their area of specialisation, nationality or languages spoken, too. This will ensure you are dealing with qualified agents and, in turn, you will be legally protected should anything go wrong with your search going forward.

With regards to the commission for rentals, the industry norm for residential leases is typically 5 per cent of the annual rental amount. However, it is important to note that commissions earned can be much higher than this. This is perfectly legal too as long as the amount is agreed by all the parties concerned.

Mario Volpi is the sales and leasing manager at Engel & Volkers. He has worked in the property sector for more than 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