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Wed 4 Feb 2009 02:00 PM

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UAE bank loan clampdown hits rental sector

Better Homes in Dubai launches scheme in bid to help customers secure personal finance.

A clampdown by Dubai banks on the availability of personal loans is making it difficult for potential renters to secure finance, according to a local real estate company.

Better Homes claimed on Wednesday that it can now take up to nine attempts at different banks to secure a personal loan to pay the one or two rent cheques landlords still prefer.

However, the stricter loans policy comes at a time when more properties are coming on to the rental market as a result of the economic downturn, and a drop off in property buyers.

Banks have not hiked salary levels for loans but occupation and length of time in Dubai are now strictly assessed, with lawyers and police officers often being randomly discriminated against, according to Gavin Frith, manager of Better Plus, a subsidiary of Better Homes.

The situation with securing loans has become so difficult that the company launched a new service six weeks ago, which acts as a middle man between its customers and banks, in a bid to streamline the lending process, Frith added.

“Some banks will lend to some people and other banks will lend to others, it depends on a number of things such as type of employment, but imagine going to nine different banks to get a loan,” Frith said

“What we now do is we will find the bank that will lend to you,” he added.

The company said about 50 people per week are calling the company enquiring about the Rental Assist scheme that will pay up to 12 months rent upfront that can be repaid over a year, or up to a four year period.

The scheme is run by Better Homes’ sister company Independent Finance that charges a one-off service fee of two percent of the total loan.

Arabian Business reported last week that landlords were starting to move on the traditional one, two, three and four cheque policy - with many becoming more willing to take on 12 cheque agreements.

However, the total amount of rent paid usually increases in line with the regularity of cheques, which means fewer cheques is still a cheaper option for tenants, Frith pointed out.

The loan difficulty has come to light in the wake of news that rents in some of the most prestigious part of Dubai have fallen by 33 percent in the last two months, according to an Arabian Business investigation.

Arabian Business: why we're going behind a paywall

Sangita 11 years ago

And what exactly is it that "landlords still prefer" that should protect them from the increasingly grim realities of property ownership and speculation in Dubai? They had their day, now they should wake up and smell the gloom like the rest of us hard-working stiffs in this town. Landlords have called the shots for so long, they have probably forgotten that supply and demand is a two-way street, not some cul-de-sac for the owners. Suffer little children, for you have only just begun to feel the pain. Another six months of lay-offs, retrenchments and fly by nighters will have you grovelling for our tenant dirhams.

Usman 11 years ago

What was happening till now that the moment a new resident had landed on Dubai Air port, he had to face severe problem of paying his whole year highly inflated rent in advance through one or two cheques, so he had no option but to contact a bank and get personal loan to pay for his accommodation. So the beauty of the game was that you immediately became a borrower the moment you landed. I think it was a vicious circle engulfing every expatriate. Now tenants have cards in their hands to play, not landlords and rules of the game shall change in tenants benefit with every coming month ahead. Feel sad for landlords.

Suhail 11 years ago

In a free society every product/service should be subject to the laws of demand/supply without any exception. Creating artificial rules will not help anyone for long. If the rents are high people will suffer and if they are low than the land lords. Satisfaction to both the parties is essential to have a healthy scenario in the long run. Only the market laws of Demand and Supply will detrmine what is the best rent in any given circumstances. No one should have any hard feelings about it.

Jon 11 years ago

Greedy lanlords and middlemen have long exploited the helpless tenants - now the time has changed. The sky rocketting rent of Dubai has no justification and it was waiting to happen the market correction. To avoid such rise of speculators and landlords, there should be a minimum lock in period before a landlord can sell his/her property. The lock in period will force them to rent out the units instead of keeping those vacant for the sake of reselling only.

Bassem 11 years ago

Where in the developed world would you pay 6 or 12 months in advance for rent. Why should your company foot the bill? Or why should you take a loan for that? There's no reason why landlords and leasing agencies shouldn't agree to a 2 months security down payment and having the rent paid monthly.

robert 11 years ago

Hello to all, I have been on both sides of the fence ie. a tennant for many years and 3 years ago became a Landlord! In defense of Landlords all I can say is that each of them wants the maximum return on investment possible and so would eah and every one of you hear! If you had a place to rent you to would want maximum return just as you do with all of your investments. Things will only change when the government step in so until then Landlords will push it to the max!

Sami 11 years ago

if People are borrowing money to pay rent, then what are they doing here in Dubai, far away from their home countries, why no one has the guts to say that rents have fallen, since many people are leaving the country. Better homes are fooling only themselves by the nonsense they're stating

dxbfornow 11 years ago

To Robert the landlord - yes Robert, I for one would want maximum returns on my property invement but I would not cheat or lie to get this as happens so much here. I have never seen so much greed as in the property market here and wonder how some people can sleep at nights. The misery caused to families by lying and cheating landlords (not all but a great many unfortunately) is deplorable. I am also a landlord but not motivated by greed and can sleep soundly at nights

David 11 years ago

In a Rental Market unlike anywhere else I have ever been, tenants pay commission of 5% to the Real Estate Agent for the privelige of paying over the odds for renting poorly constructed property. The Rental Market, in general, have been driven upwards by unethical Real Estate comanies, sheer greed on the part of local and international investors, and a clear desire on the part of the government not to create solid regulatory decree's until the prices were so high that they needed underpinning by a new Regulatory Body to make sure they didn't dip significantly, even in a Global Downturn. However, it is now refreshing that Betterhomes now provide a new Revenue Generator, (oops I meant a 'new service') that assists in locating a lender for tenants to be able to provide annual or semi-annual rent up front. Fantastic! All they charge is 2% of the loan amount, plus (obviously) the default 5% of the total cost of the annual rental in commission. Effectively, a new total of 7% commission in a slightly reduced Rental Market. Caring, sharing? I think not. Come on Betterhomes, who do you think you are kidding? Does greed see no end? I wish the best of luck to tenants in this altered market. Negotiate with the landlords, yes? But hammer the Real Estate companies as well. Isn't it time for a little payback?

KiKi 11 years ago

Can anyone confirm for me that a commission fee of 5% is for real estate agents/companies only. I am being told by my landlord that i must pay him 5% com fee as its the norm and a law. Yet there is no agent involved. I know he is wrong but I would like proof to show him that it isnt a law at all.