A short guide to Dubai's property laws

Laws and regulations are essential to create the foundation for trust in any real estate market. In the case of Dubai, everyone getting involved in buying, selling, leasing or renting, should keep in mind that the country is still young and real estate development on a larger scale only really started kicking in a decade ago, when the idea of a 'freehold law' was announced.

It was only a couple of years later when 'Regulation No. 3 of 2006' specifying the areas where non-UAE nationals may own real properties in Dubai – known as 'Freehold' was passed into law.

For any buyer it is important to keep in mind that 'outright' ownership of a freehold property gives the right to pass on or lease the property but it doesn't always mean complete freedom, communities whether villa and especially apartment buildings have common areas and guidelines on what can be done and what not.

Since the advent of the 'freehold' law the property market in Dubai really started taking off, peaked in 2008, experienced a sharp downturn in tandem with the global economic crisis and started recovering in 2011.

Much of the laws and regulations in existence were a reaction to events as the market developed so quickly and they are still being adapted to market circumstances.

All of the laws can be found on Dubai's land department's website the 'Property Gate'. The 'Real Estate & Investment' tab houses the emirate's laws, by-laws and regulations as well as relevant UAE federal laws, which can supersede emirate specific law.

Property Rules and Regulations in Dubai

The laws cover the legality behind broker registration, tenancy, ownership – property registration, escrow accounts and mortgages among others. Special attention should be paid to:


Law Concerning Guarantee Accounts of Real Estate Developments in the Emirate of Dubai No. 8 of 2007

Law No (13) of 2008 'Regulating the Interim Real Estate Register in the Emirate of Dubai'

Law No. (14) of 2008 Concerning Mortgages in the Emirate of Dubai


Law No. 26 of 2007 Regulating Relationship Between Landlords & Tenants in the Emirate of Dubai and Law No. 33 of 2008 amending some of its provisions7

Because the implementation of laws and regulations on the ground can be confusing, buyers are advised to seek advice from their property consultant and a real estate lawyer before interpreting the laws for themselves. But their offer a guide on what has been done to regulate the market. The tenancy laws are pretty straightforward but if in doubt consult a lawyer with experience in the Dubai market.