When it comes to luxurious living, few countries can top Qatar. Indeed, it is the richest country in the world by per capita income, which is estimated at $ 116,000. With its thriving economy, robust job market, cosmopolitan lifestyle, and scenic location, it’s not hard to understand why people from the world over clamor to live here.
Indeed, foreign workers account for 88% of the country’s population. However, the sheer number of expats in the country brings up a crucial question: housing.
While non-Qataris can indeed buy real estate in the country, the vast majority of them choose to rent apartments instead. As you’d expect from a world-class country like Qatar, it offers top-notch rental properties that are perfect for jet-setting tenants like you.
Here’s everything you need to know about renting an apartment in Qatar:
• The Pearl: A jewel in the Persian Gulf
• Apartment renting basics: What you should know
• Top mistakes renters should avoid
• Make the move today!
The Pearl-Qatar: A man-made marvel
Ask any foreigner in Qatar which city is best to live in and they will invariably tell you Doha. Aside from being the capital city, it is also the site for one of the most marvelous man-made islands in the world: The Pearl.
So named because of its location in one of Qatar’s historic pearl-diving sites, this artificial island was designed to look like a string of pearls. Today, it’s a jewel of an attraction that welcomes well over 15 million visitors a year.
Spanning 13.9 square kilometers, this development extends from Doha’s prestigious West Bay District. The brainchild of United Development Company (UDC), it is one of the largest mixed-use developments in the Middle East, where residential and commercial structures seamlessly live side-by-side.
It’s home to many record-setting features, including the longest waterfront retail walkway in the world. The area is also home to five-star hotels like the Hilton Doha - The Pearl Residences and Marsa Malaz Kempinski, making it the city’s premier tourist destination.
As you’d expect from this awe-inspiring locale, The Pearl offers many luxurious residential developments, including:
Porto Arabia Towers — Inspired by modern Mediterranean design, this development features 31 towers that provide an upscale lifestyle. Apartments here range from one- to four-bedroom units, which measure anywhere from 116 to 900 square meters. Often dubbed the cosmopolitan heart of The Pearl, Porto Arabia Towers grants easy access to shopping arcades, an open-air boardwalk, and restaurants.
Viva Bahriya Towers — Viva Bahriya Towers is influenced by the Arab Maghreb and features stylish Moroccan-themed architecture. It’s quieter than other communities in The Pearl, making it the ideal address for families. Renters have several options to choose from, including one- to four-bedroom apartments, townhouses, and penthouse units. Residents here appreciate the easy access to a two-kilometer beach.
Qanat Quartier — Live in European-inspired luxury at Qanat Quartier, a Venice-like development complete with scenic canals, walkable streets, and charming plazas. It’s a place that effortlessly marries Venetian architecture with Arabian sensibilities. Just like its Italian counterpart, Qanat Quartier is home to a wealth of retail shops, cafes, and restaurants. You can rent two- or three-bedroom units that front a pristine beach.
There are many great reasons why you should live in The Pearl-Qatar, including:
Excellent views — Whether it’s the sprawling cityscape or the tranquil Persian Gulf, your eyes will see wonderful views wherever they look. With its beautiful architecture and seaside location, The Pearl is truly a sight to behold.
Retail therapy — With well over 300 shops to choose from, you’ll have no problem finding a store that has exactly what you’re looking for. From fashion-forward shops to specialty boutiques, it’s all here.
Beachside living — The Persian Gulf’s beaches are swim-friendly practically year-round. And the best part? You get to live right next to them as many residential properties are just a short walk away.
Exercise-friendly — With the area’s extensive waterfront boardwalks, your daily walks will truly be a scenic experience. And with so many picturesque streets in The Pearl, on foot is truly the best way to get around.
If you’d like to live in The Pearl and experience its unparalleled lifestyle, we’ve prepared this comprehensive guide to renting an apartment here.
An overview of renting an apartment in Qatar
Doha offers a world-class lifestyle and The Pearl situates you at the heart of it all. That said, it pays to know the process of renting an apartment in this locale. Read on to learn more:
Finding available units
There are several residential developments in The Pearl-Qatar, so how do you find available units? Luckily, you have a few ways to find out. For your convenience, you can look up listings on sites like Property Finder, Just Property, or Hapendo. You can also check classified ads or inquire directly with unit owners. If you have a specific unit or configuration in mind, it’s highly recommended that you work with a local real estate agent (more on this shortly).
Figuring out costs
The Pearl allows you to live in luxury, but rental rates here are quite lofty. According to CostOf.live, a typical one-bedroom unit rents for almost $ 4,000 - exclusive of utilities. Naturally, that price goes up the bigger the apartment you get so be sure to budget accordingly.
Tenancy contracts in Qatar are provided in both Arabic and English. However, if there are any discrepancies between the two, the Arabic version is considered legally binding. If you don’t speak the language, it’s best to work with a lawyer or real estate agent who does so that you fully understand each detail in the contract.
Know your BHK
If you’re looking at listings online, you’ll likely see acronyms like 3BHK which might be confusing at first. “BHK” stands for bedroom, hallway, kitchen. The number at the beginning denotes how many bedrooms the unit has, while “hall” actually refers to the living room, not an actual hallway. Unlike in the west, the number of bathrooms is not indicated outright—you’ll have to peruse the listing to confirm this detail.
As in most places in the world, rent in Doha is paid on a monthly basis. The exact date, however, is often determined by when you move in, though landlords may also request payment by the first of every month. Likewise, landlords will require post-dated cheques so be sure to order a new checkbook before departing for Doha.
Renting as a couple
While many unmarried couples rent apartments together, this is technically not allowed. As a Muslim country, Qatar does not allow men and women to cohabitate unless they are married or related to each other. Before signing a lease, ask your landlord if this will be an issue for them. While you may be qualified to rent the place, you still have to respect the religious sensibilities of the unit owner.
Avoid these first-time renter mistakes
Many of you reading this will likely be renting an apartment abroad for the first time. While many of the basic tenets of rental properties apply to Qatar, there are a few things you have to consider to make the process hassle-free. These include:
Not hiring an agent
Renting an apartment is always challenging and even more so abroad. As such, it is often better to tap a real estate agent or broker to help you find the best property for the best price. This is crucial because not all available apartments in The Pearl are publicly advertised on online listing platforms, and having an agent grants you access to properties you otherwise couldn’t. Furthermore, not all landlords will speak your language and your agent will serve as both translator and facilitator. Your agent will also handle all the paperwork involved in renting a place, including coordinating your application. Do note that realtors in Qatar typically charge 5% of the annual rent, which usually amounts to a month’s worth of rent. When looking for agents, work only with those licensed to practice in Qatar.
Not asking if a unit is furnished
More likely than not, apartments in your country come furnished by default. That’s not always the case in Doha, however. When looking at listings, pay close attention to whether a unit comes with the usual things you need for everyday living: appliances, beds, washer/dryer, dishwasher, etc. Of course, furnished and unfurnished properties both have advantages and disadvantages. Furnished units are more convenient because you won’t have to purchase anything before settling in, though their rent might be higher. Unfurnished units, meanwhile, might be cheaper to rent though you will have to take care of fitting out the space. That said, there are also semi-furnished units available, which offer the best of both worlds: most of the bulky (and expensive) items are already in place but you are free to bring smaller items from your old place.
Not having your paperwork sorted out
Just like in any other country, you have to apply to a landlord before you can be a full-fledged resident of The Pearl. To fast-track the process and to avoid any hiccups, be sure to have the following documents on hand before applying:
A photocopy of your passport — In international rental markets, your passport serves as your primary means of identification.
A photocopy of your Qatar ID — Aside from your residence permit, you will also be issued a Qatar ID, a card that bears your basic personal information. This card is mandatory for many transactions, such as opening bank accounts, getting a driver’s license, and renting an apartment.
Post-dated cheques — If the landlord agrees to take you on as a tenant, you will have to issue post-dated cheques that cover all the months you’ll be renting the apartment. Make sure your bank account is sufficiently funded to avoid bounced cheques.
Security deposit — Aside from regular rent payments, your landlord will also require a security deposit equivalent to a month’s rent. It is refundable at the end of your lease, provided no major repairs have to be done to your apartment after you vacate it.
Proof of employment — Not all landlords will require this document, but some will ask for it as surety that you have the financial means to pay your rent. Presenting your employment contract should be more than enough proof.
Not reading your lease agreement
You may be excited to finally land an apartment in The Pearl, but don’t neglect to closely read your lease agreement before signing the dotted line. Your contract is your covenant, and it contains everything you need to know about renting your place. It should clearly state the length of your lease, when the rent is due, which utilities are covered by your rent, any restrictions you should abide by, and which maintenance work your landlord will shoulder. Thankfully, most lease contracts are issued in both Arabic and English so it’s easy to peruse and scrutinize them. Also note that most apartments are leased for 12-month periods, though you can ask your landlord to extend it if you plan to stay longer than that.
Not inspecting the property
While The Pearl is a luxury development, it doesn’t automatically mean that all its units are equally maintained. After all, the day-to-day upkeep of individual apartments is handled by the tenants. As such, do not make the mistake of renting a property sight unseen—you never know if the previous tenant was diligent or remiss in maintaining their unit. Luckily, your agent will schedule an on-site or virtual showing so you can better appreciate a property listing. Be sure to keep an eye on structural defects and ask your prospective landlord if they can fix existing issues before you move in.
Not knowing your rights as a tenant
As mentioned before, renting is a legal agreement between the landlord and the tenant. That said, many renters make the mistake of not understanding what their rights are under a lease contract. By knowing these, you can protect yourself from unscrupulous landlords.
Tenancy registration — After you sign the lease, your landlord must file the tenancy contract with the Real Estate Leasing Registration Office (RELRO) within 30 days. Through this step, the same property cannot be rented out to two different tenants.
Amendments — Neither you nor your landlord can change the terms of your tenancy at will. If either party wishes to amend the rent, length of occupancy, or other clauses, they must notify the other before the current lease expires. This gives renters and property owners time to decide if they wish to continue with the tenancy agreement.
Terminating tenancy — According to law, tenancy cannot be terminated unless both the landlord and the renter agree to it. Should you wish to vacate your apartment before the lease ends, your landlord can invoke the early termination clause in your contract. If there is none, your landlord will likely demand what he deems just compensation for your early exit (ranging from two months’ worth of rent or payment for all months left in the contract). However, if both you and your landlord agree to continue the contract with no changes, it will be automatically renewed with the same terms and conditions.
Vacating the unit — Should a landlord need to use the apartment you’re occupying for personal use, they must give you at least six months’ notice. Furthermore, they must provide proof that either they or their relatives will use the unit and that no other appropriate housing facility is available to them.
Rent increase — Worried about rent hikes when your lease expires? Good news: Qatar has very tenant-friendly laws. Specifically, your landlord cannot increase your rent by more than 10% per year. And unless a new lease is signed stipulating the 10% rent increase, you can continue paying the current rate.
Maintenance — It is a landlord’s duty to maintain an apartment so that it is habitable by tenants. Should the latter find defects with the unit which the landlord fails to address, they can get permission from the Committee for Settlement of Rental Disputes to undertake repairs themselves. The cost can then be deducted from their rent as compensation.
Security deposit — A landlord determines how much security deposit a tenant has to provide. That said, they can only ask for up to two months’ worth of rent and no more.
Change of ownership — If the unit is sold to another owner, the latter must enforce the current tenancy agreement. In short, your new landlord cannot overrule the stipulations of your current lease. Furthermore, they must notify you by registered letter of the change in ownership so you can forward your payments to the proper entity.
Prestigious living awaits at The Pearl
Our team at 25 Spaces Real Estate can help make the process of moving to The Pearl smooth and seamless. We specialize in rental properties in premier developments, and we pride ourselves in helping expats settle into an apartment they will truly enjoy living in.
As a local real estate agency, we know all the legal and cultural nuances involved in renting an apartment in the Middle East. We assist with all aspects of finding a suitable property, including shortlisting options and negotiating rental rates.
Our team is well-versed in catering to foreign clients and we can assist you no matter which corner of the globe you come from. To get started, simply call our office at +974 4464 2525 or send an email to email@example.com