Moving to the UAE: how to rent an apartment in Abu Dhabi

New to Abu Dhabi or the UAE? Here's a step-by-step guide on how to find and rent a new home

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Moving houses is one of the most stressful experiences out there. And if you are new to the city or country, the experience can be even more daunting. So here is everything you need to know about how to rent an apartment in Abu Dhabi:

How to look for a rental property in Abu Dhabi

You can find available apartments through a real estate agent or online through websites such as, and It is also worth driving through the various areas of the city to familiarise yourself with a building, villa or community that suits your needs. Make a note of any developments you like and either inform your agent or get an idea of its rent and amenities online. Some building concierges have access to the keys to empty flats; you can visit the reception, ask what is available and take a look around.

What is the average rent in Abu Dhabi?

The rates differ based on space and location; if you were to pick a high-end property in a modern area such as Marina Square on Reem Island, the average annual rates according to Asteco Property Management are:

Studio: Dh50,000 to Dh58,000

One bedroom: Dh60,000 to Dh80,000

Two bedroom: Dh80,00 to Dh125,000

A home in Shams on Reem Island is:

Studio: Dh55,000 to Dh60,000

One bedroom: Dh58,000 to Dh80,000

Two bedrooms: Dh75,000 to Dh120,000

In Al Raha Beach, a one-bedroom starts from Dh70,000 and increases with the number of rooms up to Dh195,000 for a three bed. On the Corniche it would be Dh48,000 to Dh85,000 for a one-bed and Dh60,000 to Dh120,000 for two.

Read more on average rents by area here.

What other costs are likely?

Most estate agents charge a five per cent fee (a few charge three per cent). There are also fees associated with processing the contract, as well as a security deposit (typically five per cent). Setting up accounts for water, electricity and chilled water for the air conditioning will also require deposits. Electricity and water board ADDC takes Dh1,000 as deposit, for example.

Do apartment floors effect rental rates?

Usually. The owner of an apartment on the 25th floor would charge more than the one on the fifth floor because they would have bought it for a higher price.

Is there room for negotiation?

Yes. Especially if you've seen other apartments in the same building for a lower price. Rents in Abu Dhabi have fallen in recent years – there is more supply so reductions are negotiable, and so are extras such as one or two months of free rent, multiple cheque options and even retail vouchers.

Read more on negotiating rents: 'We negotiated our rent down in Abu Dhabi'

I've found an apartment, what now?

You need to book it and confirm your interest by paying a security deposit, which is usually five per cent of the total amount of the rent. Please note that this is an additional amount to be paid by the tenant and is not included in the rent, but it is refundable once the rental contract is over. However, if there are damages, the owner will probably deduct maintenance fees from the deposit.

Rent is usually paid in series of upfront cheques. Some landlords may ask for the full amount in one cheque, but increasingly they are willing to take a more manageable two, three, four or more cheques, that will be cashed at set dates throughout the course of the contract.

Both sides agree on the terms and conditions of the contract, and once the owner has signed the contract, the tenant needs to write the cheques with the agreed upon dates and hand it over to the owner. The first cheque should be dated two days prior to the moving in date, so the landlord can guarantee that money has credited to his/her account before he hands over the keys to the agent, who then checks if the house is clean and well maintained before handing it over to the tenant.

What documents do I need?

You need copies of your passport, UAE residency and Emirates ID to receive an offer letter – this needs to be signed after paying the security deposit to block your apartment. If you have just moved to the UAE, the agent could settle for your passport copy until your residency and ID card are issued, but the final contract will not be processed without them.

How do I connect my water and electricity?

Once your tenancy is legally registered, Abu Dhabi Distribution Company will set up your water and electricity accounts via Tawtheeq, the city's register for tenancy contracts. If you have not registered, you need to present your passport, Emirates ID and a copy of the signed rental contract to the municipality. ADDC will send a message with an activation code, then a deposit of Dh1,000 – which can be paid online – is required.

What are the costs of terminating a contract early?

Anyone who wants to cancel early, has to give the owner a two-month notice, and the owner has the legal right to charge the rent for two additional months as a penalty fee. In rare cases, some owners decide to pardon the tenant from this penalty.