Qatar, officially the State of Qatar, is a sovereign Arab country located in Southwest Asia, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula.
The warm season lasts from May 10 to September 26 with an average daily high temperature above 37°C. The hottest day of the year is July 6, with an average high of 41°C and low of 31°C.
The cold season lasts from December 5 to March 6 with an average daily high temperature below 25°C. The coldest day of the year is January 22, with an average low of 14°C and high of 21°C.
Expatriates can only buy property in specific large-scale developments in Doha – such as The Pearl-Qatar, West Bay Lagoon and Al Khor Resort Project.
Just as the property market in Doha is still at an early stage, so too is the estate agency business in the country.
Some properties are advertised through estate agents, and a good agent should be able to assist with a search for a specific type of property – but the industry is not yet regulated, so it is best to ask around for recommendations from colleagues and check Internet forums before proceeding with an agent.
In the case of big projects such as the Pearl, it is possible to buy direct from the developer. Either method is likely to involve some kind of fee for a completed purchase, so it is important to be clear on the costs involved, and to obtain a written quote if possible.
Private sales are less common due to the absence of an established secondary sales market.
Buying off-plan (purchasing a unit in an apartment block before it has been built) is common in Qatar. While this may be cheaper than buying a completed property, it also carries risks – for example, the project may be delayed (or never completed), or the plans may change after purchase.
As with any property purchase, contracts should be drawn up or verified by a lawyer. Legal documents in Qatar are always written in Arabic. A lawyer should also be tasked to carry out a due diligence process on all relevant aspects, such as obtaining and verifying any necessary building licences, planning permission consents, and company registration documents of developers or sellers, and a secure payment agreement should be set up for any instalment or deposit transactions (particularly when it is an off-plan purchase).
Registering the property
The process of registering the property is quite complex, so again the advice of a good property lawyer or reliable estate agent or developer’s representative is helpful. After contracts have been exchanged, the purchaser must take the property title deeds, signed contracts and either final payment confirmation (if buying off-plan) or mortgage and deposit details to Qatar’s Real Estate Registration and Authentication Department at the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning. Various application forms need to be completed and documents verified, and at least one of the parties needs to be present in person. Registration must then be completed at the Ministry of Justice’s Real Estate Registration Department.
Note: expatriates buying leasehold properties will also need to visit the Office for Registration of Real Estate for non-Qatar nationals, located in the Doha Municipality office in Al Sadd.
Under freehold ownership, the buyer has title to the land as well as the structure.
In a leasehold purchase, it is mandatory the original sponsor agrees to transfer sponsorship to his property. This means once the property is transferred, it acts as a sponsor, a guarantee, in a manner of speaking. Should a buyer come from overseas to buy a property, he or she should have a Qatari visa before purchasing the property. The buyer will be purchasing leasehold from the property owner on a 99-year renewable basis and those leasing the property can use it for commercial purposes, as a residence, transfer the lease and even sublet or rent.
Non-Qatari home purchasers are entitled to apply for a homeowner’s residence permit, which is valid for five years. Applicants must obtain property ownership documents, certificate of good behavior and an authenticated medical checkup in order to qualify for what is called a real estate visa. The property developer or real estate agent should be able to guide the prospective buyer in this regard.
Although there is no property tax as such in Qatar, the buyer at this stage must also pay a transfer fee of 0.25 percent of the value of the property, and then a final, binding confirmation contract is approved.
Fees may also be charged by the developer for ‘extras’ such as ongoing maintenance, car park fees or other facilities, so it is important to be aware of these before the purchase is agreed on.
Agents fees are generally paid by the Developer if you are buying off plan
If its a re sale you can expect to pay the Agent up to 3% of the total sale price
There are three main options for finding a property to rent:
Using an estate agent
Prospective renters can use an estate agent to search for apartments or villas. As well as helping with the property search, the agent often acts as a link between the landlord and tenant and deals with the contract and other administrative matters, for a fee of about five percent of the yearly rent, payable by the renter.
Renting privately, without using an agent, is another option. Advertisements for private rentals can be found in newspaper classifieds and on local forums and websites. This method avoids the agent fee, but it means that the tenant has to deal directly with the landlord.
Another method of sourcing accommodation without using an agent is to target a specific area, development, apartment block or villa compound and make enquiries through the management or residents about any upcoming vacancies.
Employee’s company finds accommodation
The third way of finding accommodation is through an employee’s company. Some bigger firms and institutions like schools that employ large number of foreign employees, have villa compounds or blocks of accommodation available to staff.
Rental properties are generally unfurnished, although some newer apartment blocks may come with modern kitchen fixtures and fittings, and some come fully furnished.
Rental contracts are signed between the landlord and either the tenant or the individual’s employer. The advantage of the tenant’s employer dealing with the contract is that the employer should also take up any problems with the landlord on the employee’s behalf.
Rental agreements are generally made for one year, and can then be extended for another 12 months, provided both parties agree on the rental price. A new rental law instituted in 2008 prevents landlords from increasing the rent for properties already rented to tenants. Although contracts are usually drawn up for 12 months, a one or two month notice period from the tenant is often built into the agreement. However, this is accompanied by clauses that require a penalty fee or full rental payment for early termination in most circumstances.
By law, a landlord must give six months’ notice to a sitting tenant. Subletting is generally prohibited, unless specifically agreed with a landlord.
Rental contracts should confirm:
To rent a property, a tenant needs to provide the following documents:
The contract should be written in English as well as Arabic, and a translation should be requested if the landlord presents the contract agreement only in Arabic. Be aware though that in legal disputes, the Arabic contract is regarded as the only binding document.
Security deposits of about one month’s rent are standard. These should be fully refundable, provided there is no significant damage caused and the tenant has paid the full rent for the duration of the lease. Deposits can often be a source of conflict, so it is important that any conditions of refund are noted in the contract.
Liability for maintenance problems and any other expenses, such as whether or not utility bills are the tenant’s or landlord’s responsibility, should also appear in the contract.
Furnished apartments should come with an inventory, which should be verified as accurate by the tenant before signing the agreement.
Post-dated cheques to pay the rent (usually either quarterly or monthly) are permitted.
Although year-long contracts are the norm, some serviced or hotel apartments offer short-term tenancies ranging from a few weeks to a few months. Hotel websites, estate agents and classifieds are the best places to find short-term let offers.
After the contracts have been signed, the landlord must register a copy of the agreement with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Agriculture.
The landlord must also pay the associated registration fee, which is one percent of the annual rent, and face a fine if they do not do this within 30 days following the signature of the lease.
Any disputes between tenant and landlord should be taken to the Rental Dispute Settlement Committee (located next to Rawdat Al Khail Park).
info from qatar.angloinfo.com
Agents fee is equal to one months rent payable by the tenant