Housing contracts and legal things

How to not get screwed

A Lebanese standard contract between a tenant and a landlord is valid for one year and renewable for three years. Meaning that you as a tenant will have a one-year responsibility for the rent, with the option of staying three years, during which the landlord cannot change the rent. After the three years, are up, the tenant and landlord may discuss another contract, if they wish. At this time the landlord is allowed to change the rent as he or she wishes.

Normally the landlord will ask for the first payment to cover six months, but it is not unusual that the tenant and the landlord agree on something else, for example 3 months plus one month rent deposit fee. To be able to sign the contract you will need a copy of your passport.

The payment of rent is usually monthly, and it's up to you and the landlord to decide when and how the rent should be paid.

The law (as read above) for renting that makes it possible for the landlord to change the rent every three year, is quite new in Lebanon. And the law is not applicable to the tenants that have been living in the building since before the new law was applied. These tenants usually pay a rent that hasn’t changed since before the civil war. This is one of the many reasons older buildings are suffering greatly from lack of maintenance (it is also one of the reasons to why Beirut still manages to house people from all income classes). So please bear in mind that not all buildings will have the standard that you might be used to if you’re moving from Europe or the U.S.A.

Additional Fees

Before signing the contract you should agree with the landlord about the additional costs. Normally none of these fees are included in the rent.


There is always a yearly water fee that should be paid by the tenant to the landlord. Determine how high this fee is in you area and agree if you should pay it monthly or yearly to the landlord. As of May 2012, the yearly water fee for Beirut was 240 000LL / 160 $.


You are responsible for paying your own electricity; the bill will arrive to your door monthly. (For more details: see article about paying your electricity bill)

Municipality fee

If the landlord has registered his building "correctly" the tenant should pay the municipality fee to the landlord once a year. In some cases the fee is "included" in the rent, which usually indicates that the landlord hasn’t registered the building "correctly" with the municipality. This is not unusual.

Common building fees

Usually there will be a fee for all tenants in the building to cover the costs for cleaning, maintenance and electricity in common areas. Usually there will be one fee for the common electricity (including the elevator) and another one for the cleaning of the stairs.

The common electricity and elevator fees should not be high, usually it is around 10 000 - 20 000 LL (6 $ - 13 $) per month (as of 2012, Beirut). If the elevator breaks down, it is normally up to the tenants of the building to share the cost of repairs.

If there is no concierge, there will be one designated person in the building to whom you pay the common maintenance and electricity fees. Just ask your neighbor who this person is. The cleaning fee is usually paid directly to the cleaner. He will arrive at your door to collect his money, monthly or weekly.  If you are not at home at this time, you can always ask you neighbor to help you out with the payment. The cleaning fee is usually around 10-15 000 LL (6 $-10 $) per month.


If the building has a generator to cover the daily electricity cuts, you will have the option of sharing this generator with the other tenants. In this case you will pay your part of the monthly generator fee as well as the bill for the electricity that you're using every month.


Soon after moving in, the garbage man will usually knock on your door and ask if you want his services (this is sometimes the same guy that cleans the stairs). If he doesn't show up, ask your neighbor about his contact, or simply tell you neighbor that you wish to see the garbage man and he will magically appear at your doorstep. After making a deal with him, all you need to do is to put your trash outside your door and he will pick them up. Normally he will come 3-6 times a week. Depending on the area, the garbage fee will range between 8000 LL (5 $) per month to 20,000 LL (13 $) per month. (Yes, if you can afford a fancy apartment, you will have to afford to pay the garbage man a bit more as well.)

If you wish to carry out your garbage yourself, there are big green garbage dumpsters placed “somewhere” in your neighborhood where you can put your house garbage as well as bigger packages you want to get rid of. There is no separation of garbage. Everything goes in the same non-eco friendly green dumpster.

TIP: Internet, landline phone and cable TV is normally NOT included in the rent. (For more detailed info see article How to get Internet and How to get cable TV)

By Helena Forsell, a 30 something who left her native Sweden for Lebanon 6 years ago. Now she is reinventing life in Beirut.