Living independently in Cairo is an adventurous and challenging experience. Since the process of seeking and leasing a flat can expose significant cultural differences, we want to you keep the following in mind.
Given this information, decide what is most important to you and make your decision carefully.
Some students find that renting a furnished apartment in Cairo is more cost-effective for their budget and allows a more independent lifestyle. If you choose this option, prepare to deal with the challenge of finding a flat in Cairo and negotiating a fair rental agreement. Many students have found the LISTSERVS Cairo Scholars and Expats.com useful for finding apartments and roommates.
About Renting Flats
Mixed-gender living accommodations are frowned upon. Although there are some that will approve it, many landlords are not interested in renting to mixed-gender tenant groups.
Loud boisterous parties where alcohol is served are also strongly frowned upon.
One-bedroom flats are in very short in supply. Most flats accommodate two-three bedrooms.
It will cost approximately 3,500-4,000 EGP per month for a decent two-bedroom flat in a good neighborhood.
Apartment hunting in Cairo is something of an art. There are brokers, known in Arabic as samasra, who will show you apartments and charge a fee if you take one. Some students have had good luck in dealing with samasra while others have not. For reliable samasra, contact ISA.
....The fee for a simsaar, singular of samasra, other than those referred to by ISA, is approximately 300-500 EGP. Make sure you agree on the fee before the search begins. Some will try to charge you a fee for each flat you visit, whether you take it or not. Do not agree to this.
Tips and Resources
The easiest way to find a flat in Cairo is to take one over from a student who is leaving Cairo. Use caution in choosing an apartment or a roommate not affiliated with AUC. Once you find an apartment, there are many factors that should be taken into consideration.
Negotiating and Signing the Lease
If possible, have an Arabic-speaker with you when negotiating the lease.
Signed leases are legally binding and, if broken, could involve you in legal difficulties. Please do not sign a lease until you are sure you understand everything that is written in it. Most lease contracts are usually reprinted forms and for the most part are very standardized.
Do not allow the landlord to pressure you into signing a lease before you have had time to review it in full.
If the landlord presents you with a copy of the lease and then takes it away to later present you with an ‘identical’ copy to sign, be sure it is an identical copy. Do not allow the landlord to pressure you into signing two different contracts specifying different amounts of rent; they may claim it is necessary for their purposes but it may ultimately involve you in a lot of unnecessary argument.
Try to negotiate with the landlord, in writing, that the deposit will be the last month’s rent (depending on the amount involved), barring some kind of serious damage to the apartment that is your fault. This will save you a lot of trouble when it is time for you to vacate the flat, particularly since many landlords are reluctant to return deposits.
Find out who is responsible for your police registration (the official notification of your residence in that apartment). Usually, the landlord will do this. It requires going to the local police station with a copy of your passport and registering your residence; this is something you must do each time you move in Cairo.
Discuss the Condition of the Apartment
Clarify who is responsible for plumbing, electricity, hot water, and other facilities. Try to have your landlord assume as much of this as possible. Do not pay a deposit or rent until there is agreement, in writing, about who is responsible for what. Make sure everything works before you sign the lease and pay your rent or deposit.
Ask other tenants in the building about the availability of water – some buildings or neighborhoods are notoriously without water most of the day. Find out if the building has a khazzan (storage tank) in case the water is cut off.
Find out if the landlord keeps an extra key to the apartment in their possession. If so, learn under what conditions it will be used. Ensure they will not make unexpected visits or enter without knocking. You can ask permission to change the lock yourself (at your expense) and keep all the keys.
Separate from the lease, try to obtain and sign a list of all of the apartment’s major furnishings. Note everything that is broken or snap pictures with your mobile phone during a walk-through.
Cairo Neighborhood Map
If the apartment is furnished, ask the landlord to specify exactly what belongings in the apartment are for use by the tenant.
Make sure the elevator operates reliably unless you enjoy taking the stairs (you can ask the neighbors).
See Cairo Neighborhood Map here to assist in your search for a place to live.