Renting Property in Mexico

Renting Property in Mexico

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 when you’re planning to buy a property here, the chances are you will need to rent beforehand. This guide offers an overview of the rental markets in Mexico and offers some tips and advice on finding a rental property to suit your needs…

Renting in Mexico

People who rent property in Mexico far outweigh the number who buy. This is partly cultural, and partly because property prices are higher than local average incomes allow people to afford; and although mortgages are now being offered by Mexican banks (a few years ago they were virtually unheard of), the mortgages require substantial deposits and aperture fees, and carry interest rates of 8%-10% a year. As access to long-term credit secured by real-estate is becoming more widespread, this is slowly beginning to fuel local 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. There is something to suit every need, and every budget.

Finding a Property to Rent in Mexico

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.  A local realty agent is the ideal contact to help in this respect, if you’re unfamiliar with the location or area you’re seeking to rent in.

Consider beforehand what kind of property you want to rent and where, for example, 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? A local agent will usually provide you with an orientation tour of the town or city they work in and help you to consider your options.

Just as buying property successfully requires close attention to the location, the same rule applies for acquiring good rental property.  If you don’t know the area, we recommend you seek the help of an agent or other people you may know locally to help you gauge the locality and its neighborhoods.

If you prefer to do everything independently, you will need to be able to speak Spanish to effectively rent property on this basis. 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 be able to negotiate the best deal possible.

There are several ways to approach the rental market:

Realty Agents: Local realty agents will have a list of rental properties on their books and they can help you to find the property you are seeking. Realty agents will know the area and be able to point you away from neighborhoods that don’t suit your intentions, your lifestyle, or your budget.  Using the services of an agent does not cost you any more: their fees are paid for by the landlords when they find a rental.

Online/Internet: Today, many people browse for rental properties online.  In Mexico, rentals can be found on the Mexico Craiglist pages, although we’ve found that these ads are mostly aimed at foreigners and rents quoted tend to be higher than the market average; with Craigslist you also have to sift through a lot of ads to find something suitable and be lucky with your timing.  A number of Mexican property listing sites exist which can connect you to landlords, although most foreign residents will use the services of a local agent as it saves having to sift through hundreds of property listings often searching in areas they are unfamiliar with; and, as mentioned before, it doesn’t cost any more to use an agent.

Dealing Direct: If you’re already in Mexico, and you have built-up a local community of friends (and ideally, you speak at least some Spanish) sooner rather than later you will connect with someone who can refer you to a person with a place for rent. You might also see signs on some buildings or houses that read “Se Renta” (For Rent) – with a phone number to call. This may be the realty agent’s sign, or the landlord’s. If you like the look of it and its in the right area for your needs, you might want to explore it further. Some landlords post ads in local internet cafes where they know local foreign visitors/residents congregate.

Timeshare Rentals: Owners of timeshare properties in Mexico sometimes rent out the weeks they have assigned to them instead of using those weeks themselves.  If you are seeking a short-term rental, especially in a popular resort town where timeshare properties are popular (for example, for a discovery visit), this rental market might be useful for your needs.

AirBnB: Short term rentals are also available across Mexico through AirBnB.  Many landlords offering homes for short periods (usually a week to a month) are using AirBnB instead of using realty agents.

Our guide to the Cost of Living in Mexico contains detailed narrative about rental arrangements and costs in different regions of Mexico as well as references to reliable third party services that can help you to determine prices in specific areas.

References

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!

For longer term rentals, agents (or landlords if dealing direct) might ask for two references, in addition to a deposit (see below).

Key Questions

When you are exploring a possible rental, ask about the availability of electric, water, and gas: are they hooked up, or do you need to arrange this? If there is gas, you are likely to need a gas cylinder if there is no stationery tank on-site – you may need to contract this yourself, and pay a deposit on the tank; some properties in urban areas now have direct gas lines.

Check the water situation.  Ask about the state of the shower (or check this when you visit), and whether there is a water purifier (water for drinking and cooking) adjacent to the main tap in the kitchen; ask if it requires maintenance, and when the filter was last changed.

Is the phone connected? Is the phone line and internet package included in the rent, or do you pay extra for this?

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. Some rentals include the services of a gardener.

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?

Rental Contract Types

Some timeshare contracts now offer “rentals” but this is very different to a regular rental in Mexico, and you should make sure what kind of rental

Deposits and Contract Terms

Deposits tend to be the equivalent of one calendar month’s rent, paid upfront with your first month’s rent. An inventory of chattels and furniture 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: 12 months is the usual minimum for a longer term rental, although some properties might be available on short term arrangements; ask the agent or landlord). The contract should also specify how much notice you have to give before you leave. Be sure that you understand your commitments fully before signing the agreement.

Most rentals will require 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, we recommend you use an agent who can explain the terms to you. Although the contract may have an English version, in a dispute, only the Spanish version will be recognized in law.

Payment of Rent

You will either pay the agent or the landlord directly. Rents are either paid in cash or by transfer to a bank account; whether you pay the agent or the landlord will depend on the terms of your rental contract.  Most rents are due monthly; occasionally you might be asked to pay every two weeks, although this is rare these days.

Rental Increases

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 short time to move out if you can’t agree on the increase.  Notice periods are usually one month, although you should check your rental contract for these details.  In the majority of cases, annual rent increases are modest and in line with Mexico’s rate of inflation.

Insurance

It is usually not the renter’s responsibility to insure the physical property (check the contract), although you may wish to insure the contents and your personal belongings. “Contents only” policies for people who are renting are available and they’re not too expensive, but you’ll need to contact local insurance agent to arrange this (the policy will be in Spanish).  If you’re using the services of a rental agent, they might be able to refer you to a suitable local insurance broker, or their own agency might have an arrangement in place with a local insurance firm.

Checking Out

Check your contract to see how much notice you need to give.  Most contracts have a set period (6 or 12 months) and are renewable thereafter by negotiation.  Talk with your local agent or your landlord about this.

Be sure to give the landlord and/or agent plenty of notice, if necessary in writing, prior to your planned departure.

If the property was furnished, 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.

Our guide to the Cost of Living in Mexico contains detailed narrative about rental arrangements and costs in different regions of Mexico as well as references to reliable third party services that can help you to determine prices in specific areas.

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