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Airbnb or long-term rentals - What's best for Dubai investors?
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Airbnb or long-term rentals - What's best for Dubai investors?

When considering property investment in Dubai, choosing between short-term and long-term rentals is a significant decision. Investors are always on the lookout for the strategy that promises the highest return on investment (ROI). While some prefer the flexibility and higher income potential of Airbnb rentals, others value the stability and simplicity of long-term leases. This article delves into the pros and cons of both options, helping you decide the best approach for your Dubai property investment.

Benefits of Airbnb rentals in Dubai.

1. Maximised income potential

Short-term rentals can generate more income due to higher nightly rates and frequent guest turnover. According to property management companies in Dubai, short-term rentals can increase revenue by 20%-30%, and sometimes even up to 40%, compared to long-term leases. However, the actual return depends on various factors such as location, property type, occupancy rates, and pricing strategies. Analytical tools from companies like and local property managers can aid in making well-informed predictions.

2. Pricing flexibility

Hosts can adjust their prices based on market conditions. Rates can be increased during high seasons, weekends, public holidays, and major events like Blockchain Life 2024 or the World Cup. Discounts can also be offered for longer stays or midweek bookings. Meanwhile, long-term rental rates must adhere to the RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Agency) Rental Index, which limits rent increases during renewals.

3. Freedom from annual leases

Short-term rentals do not require a 12-month lease agreement, allowing owners to avoid long notice periods if they decide to sell or personally use the property. This flexibility also means owners can make the property available for visiting family or friends. Airbnb and property management companies have rules and agreements to protect hosts, reducing the risk of prolonged legal issues if a guest violates the terms.

Drawbacks of short-term rentals

1. Potential for damages

Short-term rentals may face more frequent damages due to the high turnover of guests. While most guests are respectful, some might use the property for events leading to potential damages. However, as tourists often spend more time exploring the city, they might cause less overall wear and tear.

2. Expenses and upfront costs

Operating an Airbnb involves higher upfront and ongoing costs. Owners need a holiday home license from the Department of Economy and Tourism (DTCM), with registration fees and annual permits ranging from AED 370 to AED 1,270, depending on the property size. Furnishing the property to attract guests and taking professional photos to enhance listings also require investment. Additionally, hosts must provide and restock amenities, arrange cleaning and laundry services, pay utility bills, and obtain contents insurance, leading to higher expenses overall.

3. Irregular Income

Short-term rental income is often seasonal, with high occupancy during winter and holiday seasons and lower bookings in the summer. Poor reviews on platforms like Airbnb can significantly impact booking rates, especially for new listings. Moreover, hotel apartments and resorts in Dubai offer competitive low rates during off-peak seasons, adding to the competition.

In contrast, long-term rentals offer consistent income, protecting owners from market and seasonal fluctuations and simplifying budgeting.

Choosing between Airbnb and long-term rentals in Dubai.

Choosing between Airbnb and long-term rentals means balancing your wish for flexibility and higher earnings with the need for stability and less hassle. Think about these factors to help you decide:

  • Customer service skills: Managing an Airbnb property is similar to running a hotel. If hospitality is not your forte, you might prefer long-term rentals or hiring a property management company for your Airbnb.
  • Property location: Properties in tourist hotspots like the Palm, Marina, or DIFC are ideal for short-term rentals, while those in residential areas may attract long-term tenants.
  • Proximity to the property: If you reside in Dubai, managing an Airbnb property might be easier, especially if you hire a property management company to take complete care of your Airbnb venture. Otherwise, a long-term rental managed by an agent might be more practical.
  • Rental yield expectations: Determine your financial goals. If you seek higher returns and are willing to put in the effort, Airbnb could be the right choice. If you prefer a steady, predictable income, long-term rentals might be more suitable.


One solution doesn't fit everyone when choosing between Airbnb and long-term rentals. It ultimately depends on your investment goals, property characteristics, and how much involvement you prefer. If you're still unsure, consider experimenting with both approaches for a year to see which one aligns better with your financial and operational expectations.

Visit Smarthost for professional property management and expert insights. Let us help you make the most of your Dubai property investment, ensuring maximum returns.

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