Many foreigners have difficulty dealing with their landlords in Cairo. Given the difference in language and culture, it can be difficult to make sure you are not taken advantage of. As a real estate agent and lawyer who works with foreign clients in Egypt, I have seen many problems arise that could have been prevented. To help protect yourself and maintain your rights, there are a number of things you should remember to do when negotiating and signing the contract. I will also provide you with some suggestions about how to resolve misunderstandings with your landlord.
- From my experience, it is always better to sign a contract written in English so that you know exactly what is included in the contract. You can buy a contract in English from any stationary shop. If your landlord does not want to sign in English, be firm and have your real estate agent translate the contract for the landlord. Because it is a standard form that can be found in any shop, he should accept it.
- Be sure to clarify if you will pay by day or by month, so that the landlord doesn’t ask for money for extra days in months with 31 days. This can be confusing and is especially important if you are staying a short period between two months or if you have an irregular start date for your contract.
If you have some complaints about the flat and you have asked the landlord to change things or fix things, make sure it is written in the contract. This is because sometimes after the contract is signed, the landlord will try not to do what he promised. If the changes are listed in the contract, you will have a legal basis to complain so that he will carry out his promise. If he will not, it is always best to talk to him. You can ask your real estate agent to help you with this problem or have an Egyptian friend talk with him. If nothing works, then you can go to the police. They will fix the problem, but the police can often be rude and it may embarrass the owner, so he might start problems with you. This is not the accepted practice, so weigh this decision carefully first before you decide to go to the police.
- Be sure to change the lock after you move in your rented apartment, and this is especially important if you will stay long term. It is your right and very common to ask the landlord to do this. What is more, it is very cheap, so he should not complain. You do not know who else has a copy of the key, so it is important to protect yourself.
- If the landlord tries to pressure you to increase the price after you have signed the contract or demand unnecessary things, first tell him you will complain at the police station or at your embassy. This is also why it is important to have a good real estate agent who can intercede on your behalf and speak with the landlord. In reality, the embassy will probably not help you, but you can ask the police for help if problems continue. However, you will likely have a bad relationship with the landlord if you stay. In this case, you might want to change your flat, because it could be dangerous or bothersome for you. Be sure to ask your real estate agent to help you get your deposit back. Read the rest of this entry »