It’s hard enough trying to find the right person to marry, but finding affordable housing in Egypt is even harder. So hard, in fact, that young couples have had to postpone marriage because of skyrocketing property prices and rents, and a dire scarcity in well paying jobs.
Due partly to expensive property prices, almost 50 percent of Middle Eastern men between the ages of 25 and 29 are unmarried. In the Middle East, young men and their families customarily buy and furnish their marital home, making marriage a substantial financial burden. Consequently, young men wait till they have enough money to start their ‘married life’. In the interim, young men and women remain in their parents’ homes.
But the Egyptian housing market may soon change. In the first policy outlook by the Middle East Youth Initiative – a joint venture established by the Wolfensohn Center for Development at the Brookings Institution and the Dubai School of Government in July 2006 – Ragui Assaad and Mohamed Ramadan explain in their report entitled ‘Did Housing Policy Reforms Curb the Delay in Marriage Among Young Men in Egypt?’ how housing policy reforms in Egypt have now made marriage more affordable for young men and women.
According to the study, the effects of housing reforms made over the past 12 years are being felt today. The reforms began in 1996 with a law dubbed the “new rent,” which allowed for definite duration rental contracts and gave landlords the flexibility to reassess the terms of the contract once it has expired. However, the law could only be applied to contracts signed after it was passed; therefore, tenants already living in rented households could not be subjected to an increase in rent.
Furthermore, in 2002, the inheritance of housing contracts was limited to only one generation. Subsequently, in 2006, there were 1.43 million vacant units (12.4 percent of the housing stock). “The increased supply would result from owners of vacant units putting them on the...