House Hunting in Riyadh: Things To Check Before Signing That Lease Contract

Okay, so we’ve been combing Riyadh for the rental home of our dreams and we think we found, The One. Okay, reality check. Probably not our dream home, but at least a comfortable place to live in here in Riyadh. But before we jumped in and signed the contract, we had to make sure that everything was going to be acceptable by turnover. After all who doesn’t want to come home to a nice and cozy place, right?
We’ve compiled a list of things you might want to consider when choosing your new home. Some of these may be self-explanatory but sometimes we get carried away by how the flat looks and we overlook the important things. Ready? Let’s get crackin’!
Phone/Internet 
Hubby and I both depend on our computers for work. Suffice it to say that we cannot survive without internet access. Hubby had to make sure that our new flat could be fitted with an STC line and installed with an internet line or a fiber optic cable. In case, you know, we’ll need 40mbps of internet at home. LOL.
Anyway, he called STC and they asked if the building already had an “STC Cabinet”. Look for a metal STC sign around the building wall. If the building doesn’t have an STC cabinet it will take longer for you to get a line. Ours took only 2 days to install because it was already STC-ready. Also if you plan to upgrade to a fiber optic line, check for the letters “FTTH” on the second row.
Water Pressure
The flat we found was nice to look at but when hubby came back to check, it turns out that the tap’s water pressure was really low. So we asked to building owner to repair it first. Trickling water is a deal breaker if you live three floors up.
Cracks on the Wall or Ceiling Damages
When a building is new, sometimes it needs to “settle” first. This is very common for places that experience extreme temperatures as it causes the building materials to expand and contract before finally setting in. If it’s just hair line cracks, that’s normal and easy to repair. But if these are wide cracks that re-crack after repair, it may indicate structural issues with the building. You have to take note of these because you might be held responsible for damages when the time comes to move out.
Painting
Are you allowed to paint the wall? Do you really need to paint the wall? If you do, be prepared to work on it over the entire weekend. Do this at least a week before you move your things in as some paint smell can be really harsh. Talk to paint sellers to determine the right kind of paint for your needs and lifestyle.
Air Conditioning
Some buildings are built with big rectangular holes ready for window type A/C installation. But some flats are built with split-type A/Cs in mind, in which case there are small built-in holes ready. Most of the time you won’t have a choice in this matter and you won’t be allowed to tear down the wall, so take note of this and weigh in your options. Split A/Cs are much more expensive than window-type A/Cs and hiring someone to install these units will set you back around 200-300 SAR/per A/C unit.
Kitchen
Is the flat outfitted with a built-in kitchen? That’s great! If not, buying second hand kitchen cabinets at Haraj would cost around 1000 SAR plus installation charges. New kitchen cabinets costs around 1700 SAR – 3000 SAR including installation. The price depends on the kitchen measurements and you can customize the cabinets to suit your needs. You can also choose the colors of marble counter top and choose between an aluminum metal sink or a marble sink. You might also chance upon expats selling their kitchen cabinets but you’ll have to find your own carpenter/plumber to install it. IKEA kitchens cabinets are beautiful but they also cost much more.
One of the dainty kitchens we found on our house hunting escapades
Tiled or Carpeted
Some units are fitted with beautiful tiles and this allows you to go carpet-free. Carpets on the other hand are good insulation and can maintain the room’s temperature during Riyadh’s harsh winter. Should you decide to install carpets it will set you back anywhere from 15 SAR to 100 SAR per square meter, depending on the quality.
 
Electric and Water Bills
Check if the flat has its own electric and water meters. Some buildings do not have individual meters and you might end up splitting the electricity bill with 2 or more flats. Are you going to be comfortable with that? Different areas and buildings also charge differently. Don’t forget to check if all the rooms have enough electric outlets.
 
Location
Is the neighborhood safe? Are there enough parking spaces? Is the building close to a bakala or grocer that sells drinking water and other stuff you might need? How close do you need to be to a Mosque?
The Contract
If you’re ready to take the plunge, check the contract first before paying the Aqari Fee, as this fee is usually non-refundable and will cost around 500-1000 SAR. The contract will usually state who will be responsible for repairs so make sure that any problem/solution will be discussed before you sign the contract. Some building owners do not offer maintenance service and you’ll have to shoulder the cost of repairs, so you have to make sure that everything is in tiptop shape prior to move in.
Tips
The trend of finding your home online is becoming more and more popular in Saudi. Websites like Lamudi and ERA are for those of us interested in renting or buying apartments, villas, lands, office space or even a piece of land. Results will show photos of the properties and other contact details of the seller. Oh and they have listings in both Arabic and English, so locals and expats can use them. It`s a good way to check your options before getting in the car and start running around from a place to another without having a clue about the property you’re visiting.
It’s much better if you look for a house with your spouse because you’ll be able to decide right away whether a flat is acceptable or not. However, make sure that you are on the same page with what you expect to rent, your budget and what you can compromise. Also, if you really like a flat don’t wait too long because it might not be available the next time you come back. Don’t forget to bring water as you’ll be in and out of your car a lot while you scout for flats.
While house hunting and choosing a house can be tedious and time consuming, don’t be deterred. Try to make it an enjoyable experience by brainstorming, daydreaming and planning with your spouse. Try to be creative together. If your wife’s not in the Kingdom yet, take videos and photos of the flats you scout and show it to her online.  Keyword here is Together.

Good Luck and Happy Hunting!

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Sheila

Social Media Editor. Hijabi. Introvert. eBook/Manga/Comic Lover. Geek at Heart.

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