Hi everyone! Maria here. I’m so happy to finally post our first blog entrance! For those who don't know me yet, I invite you to check our "about us" section and to follow us on our Facebook page and group (links below). In general this blog is about sharing with you some of my thoughts about topics of interest for expats who are looking to relocate to Mexico or who are already living here, hoping my expertise in helping people to do so will be beneficial for our readers. So, today's topic, as you read in the title is: What you need to know about Renting property in México.
When you are recently relocating to Mexico the more natural move, when it comes to temporary but kind of long-term accommodation, is to rent property. In my practice as an immigration adviser, I do recommend doing so and to have 6 months leases only (at the beginning) so you can have the chance to explore the different areas of the same city, know better the type of properties available and even explore different cities or different states. This to make a better, informed decision about the state, city, and property you will be staying for good.
Of course, doing this property search has its own hustles since moving that much implies you need to be careful about the LEASES you will be signing from different property owners/ realtors. So, this is what this post is about, what do you need to check on the leases to make sure you will prevent bad experiences while renting.
Disclaimer: Please don’t misinterpret this against property owners / realtors/ real estate agencies. We have very good people with these roles in Mexico, however it is best to be cautious at the beginning on this kind of relationship just to protect your interests.
- Responsibilities between owner- tenant should be balanced.
I know it sounds obvious, but I have read so many leases where all the responsibilities are on the tenant side (especially when the tenant isn't a spanish speaker) that I must include this as my first point. You as a tenant will have some responsibilities related to the daily use of the property and is on you to maintain the systems working as when you started renting it. However, is the owner responsibility the preventive maintance, structure issues, serious electrical and pipes problems. Don’t sign a lease where you have more responsibilities than you should, not even if is the property of your dreams and the owner/realtor seems nice.
- Make sure it has an exit clause for you.
Most leases in Mexico contain an exit clause on the owner side, where is stablished the causes why the contract can end if the tenant doesn’t comply with his/her part of the contract; For example: The owner can nullify the contract in case the tenant doesn’t pay 3 months of rent in a raw and could request the tenant to leave the property before the contact ends.
However, very few leases have an exit clause for tenants. You need a clause stating the reasons why this contract can be nullified in case the owner doesn’t fulfill with his/her obligations. As well some extreme circumstances need to be considered in case the property is no longer safe for you (due to an earthquake, storm, or any other risk factor), you shouldn’t be forced to keep paying for a place that puts you in danger.
- Talk to neighbors or previous tenants (if possible).
This point is kind of optional but very recommended, especially if you’re seeking to rent in a building/buildings complex since you can know from firsthand about potential issues on common areas or the general state of the building. Also, could be beneficial to know why the old tenant left, what he/she liked the most (and the least) and how was his/her relationship with owner.
- Any agreement needs to be on writing.
In Mexico is very common the agreements “by word” (acuerdos de palabra), where both parties agree on something and don’t consider it necessary to write it down because they trust each other. However, based on my experience, I think this is ok when it comes to real friendship with people you know from a long time or that consistently has proven to you to be reliable; when it comes on business, this no longer apply. Even if the owner/realtor is nice and friendly, this is business for them, so everything needs to be on writing. If after reading contract you point out some changes and they agree, the contract need to be changed before you sign. If the agreement happened after the contract was signed, then you need to write down a document with the new agreement and be signed by both and having two witnesses will be the best.
- Any payment you make, you need a written receipt
This again, seems obvious and is related to the previous point: everything on writing. You need to have prove of payment to avoid future misunderstandings. I know sometimes it feels acward to ask for it when the other person should provide it in the first place but consider that in Mexico we’re used to informality, so probably you would need to ask the first time. A person with good intentions will never be offended to be asked for a receipt.
- About the use of promissory notes (Pagarés).
Promissory notes or pagarés, are usually used on formal agreements as a promise of payment, in this case as a promise of rent payment. This is a good practice that protects the owner in case the tenant refuse to pay the rent while is still using the property, since this can be used in court to force the tenant to pay. If your landlord/Realtor ask you to sign this (usually is 1 per each month of rent until the last month of the contract) don’t stress out: If you have an exit clause and good intentions, there is nothing to be worried about. Just be aware: EVERYTIME you pay 1 month of rent, besides your receipt, the landlord/realtor has to give back to you the respective promissory note. This will give you the security they cannot claim you didn’t pay.
- Bring an electrician and a plumber to check out the place before you sign.
As we said in the first point will be your responsibility to keep the systems working as when you rented the place. So, it’s quite important you make sure what are those conditions. Taking pictures of the place on first day could be good idea too. If is all in order there isn’t more to do, if there are things to fix then you should notify the landlord/realtor and do an agreement about those fixings.
- The last but not the least: Get your lease checked by an english - spanish speaker with experience interpreting this kind of document who is not related to the owner/realtor who is offering the property to you.
Probably after reading this article, you´re already thinking to take all these advices is too much trouble, stressful and time consuming, and you are right: for the average person it is, but it is also needed to guarantee you a problems free stay.
There are several points to check out about leases and to be honest google translate or a friend who speaks basic spanish (or basic English) won’t be enough on this task. Most of owners/realtors don’t provide an English lease and if they do, no offense, but you need to get it checked anyway. Is best to have someone neutral, experienced on interpreting leases to take care of this matter so you can relax and enjoy the process of finding your dreamed home.
And yes, here it comes the ad: We’re currently providing the lease review service and as well we have available a lease template that already considers (in general) the points here described (you will get it in English and Spanish). We can provide this service in a remote or presential way, so let us know in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would need our assistance in this matter.
I’m really grateful to you for reading this till the end and I look forward for your comments below: Let me know what you think about this info and tell me what other topics you would like to know more about from me, or just feel free to comment about your experiences and own advice to others.
Well, for now, this is it. Thank you guys and don’t miss out our next post next week. Yes, this will be a weekly thing so please don’t let me alone on this and give me some ideas.
Bye for now
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