Renting a House in Afghanistan
Renting a house in Afghanistan is not hard to do.
Where will you live?
At the present time, most foreigners are living mostly in the biggest cities like Kabul, Mazar, Herat, Jalalabad, and Faizabad. Most of the large cities in the south are not safe for foreigners in 2009.
Of course foreigners are also living in smaller towns, but are generally where there is both a strong Afghan police and ISAF presence.
So when you considering where to rent a house, you are advised to look at houses to rent where other foreigners are also living, mainly for security's sake.
Get a Realtor
Foreigners are not allowed to buy. If you do not have an Afghan passport, you must rent a house. You can try to go around on your own to find houses to rent - look for the "rent" sign. We've done this ourselves and found some amazing houses. But unless you know Farsi or Pashto and are comfortable with Afghan culture (a.k.a Three Cups of Tea), you are advised to go through a local Afghan property dealer.
You will usually still need a translator - most property dealers speak very little English. There are property dealers in every major section of town - just stop in and ask for an appointment.
The realtor, like any realtor, just needs to know how big of a house - but most houses are big. It's pretty hard to find a small house. You can try for an apartment, but you are not advised to live in an apartment and these are fairly non-existent except where there are the few remaining Soviet-era apartment buildings.
A house should come with running cold water unless you are living in a village. Have an Afghan colleague to triple check the papers of ownership of the owner, so that there are no disputes after you pay rent.
Make sure the electricity is hooked up and the bill is current. Expect to pay 10x the cost of kilowatt hour more than an Afghan pays.
Get All Repairs Completed
Once you pay rent, the landlord is usually not going to do anything more to repair the property - it will be your cost! So get it in writing and ensure it gets done before you pay rent.>
It's also important for you to negotiate with an honest landlord. Landlords are required to pay 20% monthly tax to the government.
No Double Contracts
Often times they will ask for a double contract, so that while you pay the higher rate, you sign a lower rate contract which the landlord actually submits to the government so he pays less tax. You are advised to NOT agree to double contracts - this can jeapordize your visa and any investment you make in the country.
What Do Rented Houses Come With?
There's more I can say, but I need my Afghan tea break, so I'll get back to a few more tips on renting a house in Afghanistan enshalla tomorrow.