In this week's Money section in The National, we looked at how some Abu Dhabi residents are moving to take advantage of falling rents. According to propertyfinder.ae, during the 12-month period until December 1, apartment prices plunged by 11.6 per cent in the capital and 5.2 per cent for villas.
Here, Alan Kaye, the head of sales and leasing at District Real Estate, reveals his eight tips to help you negotiate a better deal on your rent in the capital:
• Contact your landlord a minimum of 60 days before the end of the lease and ideally 75 days before. If at the 60-day point you do nothing and the landlord does nothing, then your rent will just continue the same.
• Do your homework and see what similar properties in that area are going for.
• Write to the landlord and say “I’d like to stay for another year, but due to circumstances, this is the maximum rent which I can afford to pay.” Be very professional in your approach, but also be realistic, based on the price of other properties nearby. It’s no good if you’re currently paying Dh150,000 and you offer him Dh100,000 – that’s not going to happen. If you can offer to pay the rent in one cheque, that’s a big incentive.
• Point out to your landlord that apartments are empty, not just in your own building but also in similar buildings. Few landlords will stand their ground and not decrease the rent, particularly at the moment because even if it takes one month for them to relet a property, they will have already lost 8 per cent (of a year’s rent). So whatever increase they wanted to make, they will have already lost it. In the current market, the tenant is undoubtedly in a stronger position than the landlord.
• Go back to the original real estate company you used when you first rented the property and say: “I would like you to renegotiate this for us”. Sometimes agents are in a stronger position to negotiate on your behalf, because they are doing other business with the landlords.
• Take photographs of any damage to the property before you move in, so that it isn’t taken out of your deposit when you leave. You get more of these issues with individual landlords. Most property companies now have a professional system in place, so someone will accompany you on a tour of the property, and writedown everything that’s wrong. It is important to take pictures and make notes so everything is confirmed in writing, and there’s a proper email exchange.
• Don’t assume the landlord is the enemy. Most landlords are actually very reasonable and helpful, they just want their tenants to look after their properties. Try to build a relationship with your landlord from day one.
• If you do end up in a dispute, there’s a rent settlement committee which is part of the municipality. To file a case costs 4 per cent of your rent, up to a maximum of Dh20,000. Initially though, try to negotiate amicably directly with your landlord.
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