We cover everything you need to know about setting up a vacation home rental business in the UAE: registration, permits, licence, costs, etc.
12 May 2022| Last updated on 5 August 2022
A complete guide to obtaining a permit and licence for renting out holiday homes in Dubai.
When you decide to rent out a property as a holiday home in Dubai, there is a lot to consider.
The fun part is thinking about furnishing, paint colours, setting your rates, booking systems, garden or balcony décor, etc, but the most important part is knowing the rules and regulations that expats need to adhere to as holiday home operators.
It is a fairly straightforward process to start a holiday home rental business in Dubai, and this guide aims to provide some guidance and links to useful resources for owners who are researching permits and licences that relates to holiday properties for rent in the emirate.
Not to worry though as the regulations are here to protect you, your guests, and your property.
What is a vacation home?
A vacation home is a furnished residence ranging from a studio apartment to villas with multiple bedrooms that is rented out to tourists, visitors, and UAE residents on holiday. There are some customised services for guests, however room service is typically not included in a holiday home.
What is considered a holiday home?
Not all residential villas will be considered a holiday home. Villas must be within a gated community with a minimum of four other villas within the compound, according to the Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) of Dubai. However, some commerical villas on open land and main roads may be considered and approved as a holiday home by DET.
Dubai Tourism adds that hotels, resorts, and hotel apartments do not count as a holiday home.
Do I need a licence to set up a vacation home for rent in Dubai?
Yes. To operate a legal vacation home business in Dubai, you must have a valid holiday home rental permit before renting out your properties.
If you are just starting out, this is the guide for you!
How to register a vacation home rental in Dubai
Before getting your permit, you must first register your property and get approval from DET.
Below is a step-by-step guide on how property owners, tenants, or professional operators can register as a legal vacation home rental operator in Dubai.
- Gather a passport copy or Emirates ID copy of the property owner or the operating tenant(s)
- Gather a commercial licence copy (for professional operators)
- Gather a passport copy or Emirates ID copy of the representing manager (for professional operators)
- Create an account on the Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM)'s online portal, here
- Complete the online application form
- Upload the requested documents
- Submit your online application for approval, which will be reviewed within one working day
- If approved, you will receive an email confirming your application along with a payment link
- Pay the fee of AED 1,520 to DTCM
- Once you've paid, your registration is complete
Your holiday home's registration does not have an expiry date and there is also no renewal fee.
Owners take note:
The name on the account you create on DTCM's online must match the name of the property owner on the unit tittle deed.
If you don't have an Emirates ID while creating your account/application, you can instead enter your passport number in the mandatory Emirates ID field after adding 0's to reach a 15 digit combination in total.
Operating tenants take note:
Tenants are only allowed to register maximum one unit and you will need the owner's approval beforehand.
Professional operators take note:
For professional operators, the trade licence designated activity must be Vacation Homes Rental. You must also update the Trade Licence and other relevant information every year.
Where to apply for a holiday home rental permit in Dubai?
You can apply for a holiday home rental permit online through DTCM's portal, here.
How to apply for a holiday home rental permit in Dubai?
To obtain a holiday home rental permit in Dubai, here is a step-by-step process:
Requirements to apply for a holiday home rental permit:
- Title deed or sales purchase agreement copy
- Property payment completion certificate
- Signed passport copy or Emirates ID of the landlord
- Trade licence copy if the unit 'landlord' is a company
- Emirates ID or passport copy of the authorised signatory
- Property management letter as per downloadable template
- Recent Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA) bill
- Tenancy contract (for operating tenant)
How to apply for a holiday home rental permit on the DTCM online portal:
If you are ready to apply, you can do so through DTCM's online portal for holiday home rental permits, here.
Log in or sign up to the Holiday Homes portal and follow the steps on their website to obtain your permit.
How long is the processing time?
Applications for a permit are usually reviewed within one working day.
How much does a holiday home permit cost?
The cost of a permit from DTCM may depend on the size of the property.
How long is the validity of the permit?
A vacation home rental permit from DTCM will be valid for a minimum of three months and maximum one year. The permit can be renewed annually.
Tips to promote your vacation home rental in Dubai
1. Be unique with your property.
Most of the listings are found on platforms such as Airbnb, Booking.com, and Facebook Marketplace.
The more unique and accessible your property is, the better it could perform in Dubai. Think sea view apartments, public transportation access, what's available within the neighbourhood, residential villas with access to the beach, and more.
Consider taking it a step further and go beyond the basics with amenities such as a private swimming pool and/or hot tub, games room and entertainment systems, free Wi-Fi, full kitchen, apartment security, etc. to boost your unit's attractiveness to potential guests.
2. Don't be afraid to use social media marketing to promote your property.
Property listing platforms are high in supply of available units. Consider taking your property to social media and take advantage of tools such as Instagram reels and Tiktok to hop on video trends, or invite guests for influencer marketing.
3. Take good photos of the property.
Poor lighting and stiff photos on a phone can affect how attractive your property looks, making it look bad when the home itself could be better in person!
It is a good idea to invest in hiring a professional photographer to take some quality visuals of the property for your listings.
When taking photos, snap them in landscape orientation mode, make good use of natural sunlight, use wide-angle lenses if you have a DLSR camera, ensure the kitchen and bathroom are sparkling clean, consider adding some plants and flowers to freshen up the place, add artworks on the walls, etc.
4. Work on communication.
Timely and relevant communication can be a deal-breaker for negative or positive reviews. Try to be available for the guest's questions or concerns, and provide instructions or a house manual to the guest if necessary.