Bad landlords in Cairo

There are plenty of bad landlords in Cairo: the ones that refuse to fix things in the apartment, the ones that refuse to return your deposit, the ones that ‘forget’ the agreement and make up their own rules and even ones that will rob your apartment empty and blame it on others. My first landlord in Cairo was terrible. The only thing he did not do was rob the apartment empty, but all other things – check! So, this is a warning for all of you Cairenes, don’t rent an apartment on 33A Canal Street in Maadi from a landlord named Sherif Abd Ellatif Amin Saleh (living in Saudi Arabia).

Mr. Sherif’s apartments may look nice at first sight – modern, clean. However, once you start living there, you realise this is all a façade and it is not as good as it seems. And then, coupled with him being a terrible landlord, I highly discourage anyone from renting his apartments.

I stayed in two of his apartments: the one on the first floor (for one month, prior to moving to the other apartment) and the one on the lower ground floor. He has another apartment on the ground floor as well.
When I stayed in the first floor apartment, I realised there was a horrible smell coming from the main bedroom. The assistant blamed it on ventilation. After one night, I moved to the second bedroom and stayed there. The conditions of this place weren’t great (especially considering the price you pay), but I thought “only for one month” and the agent, Mrs. Suhad Townsend, assured me the lower ground floor one was in much better condition – of course it turned out not to be. The garden looks like a great place, but you will soon realise it is used as a garbage dump for the neighbours (they just throw out their garbage out of their windows – for it to end up in your garden). The neighbourhood cats will take their dump in the garden. After a while, I was fed up trying to keep it nice cause it is not possible.
The windows of the apartment look out onto a fence – because it is not only on the ground floor, it is on the lower ground floor. It is very depressing and dark. Fine, my mistake for not inspecting and researching this better during my first visit. But other conditions are latent. Just a few examples:
The walls turned out to be brittle due to a past water leak. They are basically decomposing and the smell makes it inhabitable and possibly a safety/health hazard.
A faulty electricity meter was installed (Mr. Sherif’s assistant Mr. Mamdouh admitted they know it was faulty) which would lead to 1000LE electricity bills per month. Of course I insisted this to be checked/sorted out before paying anything.
Many electrical appliances are just fixed by his assistant, which leads to more problems eventually. In one instance, I got little electric shocks from the drum of the washing machine. After the assistant ‘fixed’ it, I got one massive shock from the outside of the washing machine. My skin was burnt in two places. He actually managed to make things worse – the landlord is ultimately responsible for repairs, whether it is done by his assistant or by actual electricians/technicians.
In addition, the bawebs (there are four) harassed me for payment. Even though the contract says you pay $50 each month for maintenance and security (including the bawebs), the bawebs see none of this money. In addition, this landlord has not paid building maintenance fees for three years! He is in bad standing with the building management and bawebs, which only adds to your negative experience as a tenant of his apartment.

Now, Mr. Sherif himself. Besides his bad standing with a lot of people around you, he will fail to fix problems in the apartment. He will blame the cause of a problem on something small and provide a quick fix. Or he will deny the problem (like with the electricity meter) and leave you with it. Because the contract provides for cancellation in case issues are not fixed within a week, I decided to call on this provision and cancel the lease in response to his failure in responsibilities. He then makes it clear he will keep the security deposit of $2450. Of course I disagree, so I force myself to stay until the end of the payment period (my office recommended that I pay 6 months in advance, unfortunately). The contract then allows for a two week payment period, after which – if payment has not been received, the contract is automatically cancelled and the rent for these two weeks are to be taken from the security deposit. Knowing I am dealing with an unfair and dishonest landlord, I made use of this provision, with the decency of explaining what and why. Of course, the landlord disagreed and is claiming big bucks from me – and sending me words that could be interpreted as threats. I told him to take it from the security deposit that he is keeping and that I, as a lawyer, can explain him the contract if he does not understand it since he keep going astray from it.

This man will ignore the contract you signed, the agreement you made, anything to get more money. Several real estate agents know him for being greedy and unfair.
The only way I could get my deposit back is if I would find him another tenant, but he says he refuses to rent to Arab, African and Indian tenants. I am not sure who he defines as Arab and African, but technically that would be anyone from anywhere close to this region. The guy renting my apartment before me was Libyan, the guy before that was Indian. This landlord is a racist. I am pretty sure this is based on his experiences with his previous tenants. Problems occurred and he refuses to see himself as responsible. I am not sure if this man is malicious or plain dumb, but either way, you get a negative experience.

Long story short – do not rent from this man and do not stay in his apartments. It will be detrimental to your safety, health, wealth, sanity and happiness.
There are much better apartments with better landlords and for less rent out there.

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