Renting is popular in Mexico, with a buoyant market and wide choice of properties to suit almost every need and budget.
If you’re staying in Mexico for an extended period, or even you’re planning to buy property, the chances are you will need to rent beforehand. This guide offers an overview of the rental scene in Mexico and some tips and advice on finding a rental property to suit your needs…
Finding a Property to Rent
Deposits and Contract Terms
Payment of Rent
People who rent property in Mexico far outweigh the number who buy. This is because property prices are much higher than average incomes will allow people to afford, and although mortgages are now being proffered by Mexican banks (a few years ago they were virtually unheard of), at an average of 15% a year, they are expensive by current US and European standards.
As access to long-term credit secured by real-estate is becoming more widespread, this is slowly beginning to fuel demand for land and house sales, but on the whole, the majority of the population still rent.
As a result of this rental properties are plentiful, commonplace and varied – and there is something to suit every need, and every budget.
You need to establish what your budget is going to be and then draw up a shortlist of areas in the location you want to rent in, avoiding less desirable areas, including those near shanty-towns and areas where crime levels and violence are or may be high. This is especially relevant in Mexico City. Smaller towns and cities just don’t suffer from crime the way Mexico City does.
Establish what kind of property you want and where: An apartment or house? Close to town, or out of town? Near the market and local services? Away from the crowds? In a gated community?…
In smaller places, take time to walk around, exploring neighborhoods to get a feel for the area you may rent in. This is especially important if you’ll be renting for an extended period.
Just as buying property successfully requires attention to: location, location, location – the same rule applies for acquiring good rental property.
You will need to be able to speak some Spanish to effectively rent property on an independent basis, especially outside the main tourist areas. Wherever you are in Mexico, if you only speak English and don’t employ the use of an agent, your options may be limited and you may not end up negotiating the best deal possible.
There are several ways to approach the market:
Estate Agents: Estate agents will have a list of rental properties on their books. Be sure to go to several estate agents in the area, as they may all list the same property – possibly at different rates. Estate agents will know the area and be able to point you away from areas you wouldn’t want to live in and especially useful if your Spanish language skills are limited or you want a professionally managed service.
Newspapers & Internet Cafe Billboards: This is a common way people find rented property in the US and Europe; classified sections of newspapers in Mexico do contain property listings, but you explore other routes as well.
Your Hotel: If you’re staying at a hotel, they may have contact with one or more property agents in the area. You may want to inquire at reception as they could put you in touch with a local person who could help you out.
Local People, Local Places: A good way (as reported by many people who go to Mexico searching for a rental) is to engage with the local people in an area where you have decided to look for a rented property (check that the area meets your requirements and standards). Go back to the area regularly, get known and chat with people: in restaurants and cafes, for example. Internet Cafe’s often have billboards with information about properties and rooms for rent locally – check them out!
Dealing Direct: Mexican people are very friendly and sooner rather than later you will connect with someone or somewhere who can refer you to a person with a place for rent. You may also see signs on some buildings or houses that read “Se Renta” (for rent) – with a phone number. This may be the agent if the sign is very posh or labeled with a logo, or most probably the landlord if it’s handwritten. If you like the look of it and its in the right area: you might want to explore it further.
People don’t tend to ask for references in Mexico for short term informal rentals (depends on the circumstances), although if you deal through an Estate Agent you will probably be asked for one or two.
When dealing directly with landlords, they tend to judge whether or not they want you to rent the property during their first meeting with you. How much rent you pay and what deposit is required can also be decided at this initial meeting. If you are dealing directly with the landlord, be aware that your first impression will count!
Ask about the availability of electric, water and gas – are they hooked up, or do you need to do this? If there is gas, you are likely to need a gas cylinder – you may need to contract this yourself, and pay a deposit on the tank; some properties now have direct gas lines. Ask about the state of the shower, and if there is a water purifier on the tap, ask if it requires maintenance (and when was the filter changed). Is the phone connected? Are there any maintenance problems you should know about? If its a house, and it has a garden, ask if there are any tools – or if the landlord knows a gardener you can hire. If there is a swimming pool, ask about its maintenance. If there is an alarm, ask how to operate it. Is there a water pump (for pressure)? If so, is it automatic, or manual?
Deposits tend to be the equivalent of 1 calendar month’s rent, paid upfront with your first month’s rent. An inventory should be carried out with the agent or landlord, noting down any major defects that exist when you start the rental agreement. Any items missing or (further) damage would be charged to your deposit.
Contract Terms usually state that you must pay the deposit and first month’s rent in advance.
Your contract may specify a minimum term (say, 1 month), and also specify how much notice you have to give before you leave. Be sure that you understand your commitments fully before signing the agreement.
Some rentals will have a 6 or 12 month minimum stay: some may be as short as a week, although the latter tend to be holiday homes or apartments and are likely to cost more.
If you are in any doubt about your contract, or if you cannot read and understand Spanish well, either use an agent, or get someone to translate it for you. Although the contract may have an English version, in a dispute, only the Spanish version will be recognized in Law.
You will either pay the agent or the landlord directly. The concept of “Direct Debit”, (direct transfers out of your bank account to pay another party) although becoming more commonplace for payment of bills to larger companies, hasn’t become commonplace between individuals yet, so you’ll have to hand-over cash to the agency office, or to the landlord who will visit every two weeks or monthly to collect.
Be sure to get a receipt for all payments, especially those made with cash.
If you are on an extended stay, be aware that rents in Mexico tend to go up annually. Unless otherwise specified in your contract, rents can go up by any amount the landlord sees fit, and you may have only a week to move out if it’s too much! In the majority of cases, increases are modest and in line with Mexico’s inflation.
It may not be your responsibility to insure the property (check the contract), although you may wish to insure the contents and your personal belongings. Local insurance companies can arrange this for you and if you’re using an agent, the agency may be able to recommend someone – but shop around as the agents might be on a commission and the deal they proffer may not be your best alternative.
Check your contract to see how much notice you need to give: you should check this before you sign.
Be sure to give the landlord and/or agent plenty of notice, if necessary in writing, prior to your planned departure.
You should go through the inventory with the landlord or agency and provided everything is in good order, your deposit will be returned to you, either directly by the landlord or by the agency office.
Mexperience guides and briefings are provided for information only. Figures and rates may change without notice. Our guides do not constitute financial or investment advice to readers. Seek professional advice before entering into any agreement or contract. Mexperience Conditions of Site Use