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Hope at last for Dubai expats seeking a shared rental home

shared rental Dubai apartment Pexels/RDNE Stock
Concern over potential legal consequences has prevented the development of a formal shared rental industry in Dubai
  • Firm offers legal house shares
  • Founder calls for law change
  • ‘Need for tailored regulation’

Shared rental accommodation for expats in Dubai, something previously difficult to offer because of rules against subletting, is being developed by a company called Co-Living Legends, working with developers and landlords.

Co-Living Legends was set up in 2021 to help female expats find house-share rental options in Dubai. 

House sharing is well established in markets such as the UK, US and Europe, but is not formally recognised in the UAE, because local tenancy laws forbid a tenant from subletting or otherwise “assigning the use of real estate to third parties” without written consent from the landlord. 

Concern over potential legal consequences has prevented the development of a formal house sharing industry. There are no specific regulations to govern shared rental accommodation, property experts say. 

Co-Living Legends’ founder, Danielle Hall, told AGBI she would like to see a clear regulatory framework to support what businesses like hers are doing and protect the parties involved.  

In terms of their rights and living standards, “not all renters are getting a fair deal out there. There are inconsistencies in what’s available,” she said.  

Her company works with developers and other primary landlords to rent out legal house shares in Dubai. It obtains no-objection certificates from property owners to rent out rooms in apartments across different buildings to like-minded individuals, on the owners’ behalf.  

It currently manages 15 three-bedroom apartments in Dubai Downtown and JLT, with 45 renters. Among its clients are global companies seeking safe, licensed accommodation for employees moving to work in the country. 

Resident registration

Co-Living Legends navigates Dubai’s complex “Ejari” resident registration process on behalf of tenants and sets up utilities. Paying a year’s rent upfront remains standard practice in the UAE, but the company covers this and recoups its costs by charging tenants on a monthly, all-inclusive, basis. It also vets the housemates.

“Do they have a visa? What’s their work? We have that duty of care,” Hall said. 

Her shared rental model differs from the “co-living” investment concept gaining traction across the world, including in the UAE. Hall is not developing purpose-built residential blocks for rent, featuring compact private studios alongside shared living spaces. However, the demand drivers are similar, she said. 

With Dubai rents rising steeply in recent years, up as much as 25 percent year-on-year in 2023, according to CBRE, “it can be challenging for people to find the right apartment, especially if they’re unfamiliar with the city,” Hall said.

“We spend time selecting the best buildings and furnishing the apartments so they can move straight in. We also try to match like-minded individuals who can build lasting friendships.

“But, as demand grows, so does the need for tailored regulation.”

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