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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 April 2019

Affordable housing market will ensure global competitiveness

More flexible rent payment options will help make the UAE one of the best places to live

Michael Lahyani, founder of Propertyfinder.ae / Pawan Singh
Michael Lahyani, founder of Propertyfinder.ae / Pawan Singh

Few who set about the daunting task of trying to rent a home in the UAE a decade ago will have forgotten the febrile state of the housing market back then. With too few properties and too many tenants, finding a decent apartment at a reasonable price was a major victory. But how times have changed. Today’s tenant is a savvy negotiator and in a better position to call the shots. A survey of tenants shows that in the past year, more than 60 per cent were able to negotiate a rent decrease. Overall, rents fell by nearly 10 per cent in Dubai and by even more in Abu Dhabi.

In part, this reflects a shift in the balance between supply and demand but technology and an ever-more sophisticated regulatory environment are also having significant impact. Tenants credit the rise of online property platforms and clear tenancy laws with giving them more control. Dubai Land Department’s rental increase calculator prevents landlords charging over the odds and a new online tool launched by PropertyFinder answers that age-old question – whether it is cheaper to rent or to buy. In short, the housing market is maturing and that is good news for everyone. The UAE is in a highly competitive global market for investment and talent. An affordable housing market can only help to reassure companies and individuals looking for long-term stability.

There is still more to do. Expecting tenants to pay rent a year or even six months in advance by post-dated cheques is an off-putting anachronism. In the interests of competitiveness with other world cities, landlords should offer greater flexibility in rent payment options, such as giving tenants the chance to pay by monthly direct debit, a common practice in many places. The UAE is currently on course to achieve its ambition of being among the best places to live in the world. Tightening the nuts and bolts of the property market might not seem as glamorous as some of the objectives of Vision 2021. But a stable and equitable housing market is the basic building block of happiness, security and economic growth.

Updated: December 12, 2018 06:54 PM

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