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Apartments In Puerto Rico

Renting Apartments In Puerto Rico – Continued Part 2b

Hi y’all! It is time for the second part of my series on renting apartments in Puerto Rico. When I began writing about real estate on the island, I didn’t realize just how much we’ve learned while living there. So, I had to break this up into multiple parts. Hence, you’re getting a pretty long, and thorough, series. Hopefully, it will be helpful to you.

In my last post in the Real Estate In Puerto Series, I covered where to rent and how to find apartments. In this post, I will talk about the common pitfalls of renting apartments in Puerto Rico, some recommended things to do, and how to set your expectations.

OK, here it goes…

Common Pitfalls Of Renting Apartments In Puerto Rico

Renting site-unseen – We actually did this with our first apartment and got very, very lucky. That is not the norm. If you rent a place without seeing it, be prepared to lose your money or be disappointed with what you got. Everything looks better in pictures. But, really, more than anything, if you haven’t been in the apartment before, you may fall for one of the pitfalls below.

Neighbors – I can’t tell you how important this is in Puerto Rico. I say this because whatever expectations you had in the mainland USA, do not apply here. Puerto Ricans, as a rule, are not quiet people. They love to party, play loud music, have loudly barking dogs, roosters, etc. etc. I highly recommend you check out the neighbors before you sign a lease.

Neighborhoods – The same as the neighbors, the neighborhood itself is important. You may move into a nice condo but right next door you’ll have an abandoned building where the homeless drug addicts live, hangout, urinate, or whatever.

Our apartment in PR
Our apartment in PR

 

Apartment Condition – Check the apartment carefully! And ask to have it ALL fixed before you move in! Go back multiple times. Seriously. In Puerto Rico, you are usually expected to fix any problems that occur with the apartment on your own. I’m talking about long-term rentals here. Trust me, you don’t want a rental with a broken fridge that you’ll have to fix. Or washer that doesn’t drain. How about an air conditioner that pours water into the living room every time it rains, or a shower that explodes on you when you’re in it?

All of these have happened to us, by the way.

Lack of Careful Research – I know this is not PC to say but there are many ways you can get screwed on apartments in Puerto Rico. Unpaid property mortgages, someone else’s utilities, deposits, and so on. Don’t be person that gets screwed and do your research before renting.

What To Do When Renting Apartments In Puerto Rico

Check references of the landlord – In the mainland US, we are so used to being on the receiving end of reference checks that it’s completely out of our paradigm to ask for references from the landlord. Trust me, we learned that this is a very smart thing to do. Ask to speak to someone that rented from them before. And, ask other people in the area what they know of the landlord. You may save yourself a lot of headache down the road.

Ask to verify that the mortgage is up-to-date – I have a friend that rented a beautiful house on a 1 year lease, only to be evicted a few months later because, although the landlord was collecting rent, he wasn’t paying the mortgage. So, the bank repossessed the house and removed the tenants.

Ask to verify that utilities are up-to-date – If you’re expected to pay the utilities, call the utility companies and verify that they are up to date. Otherwise, you may move in and be without utilities for up to a couple of weeks. Not to mention that it will probably cost you some money in legal fees to certify that you are not the person responsible for paying them. Yes, we do know someone this exact scenario happened to.

Deposits – Deposits are tricky in Puerto Rico. In theory, and legally, you are supposed to get them back. In reality – not so much. We got partially screwed on our deposit from our last rental. You’ll find that if you’re moving off the island, or some distance from your current location in PR, landlords are very likely to drag their feet on refunds….indefinitely. And really, what recourse do you have? If you’re moving locally, this can still be a problem. Best thing to do, is to negotiate your deposit down and simply expect that you’ll never see it again.

Having Realistic Expectations

Apartments in Puerto Rico
Are you willing to pay for this?

 

Beach is going to be more expensive – Folks go online and see whole houses for rent for $500/mo. That’s cheap! And they do indeed exist. However, they do not exist on the beach. For that price, you’ll be living in a local neighborhood in an unfurnished unit. A beach apartment, depending on the area you’re in, will cost you between $800-$2,000+ for a long-term rental. It is very rare to find anything cheaper.

Furnished apartments in Puerto Rico are more expensive – The reality is that locals don’t typically rent furnished apartments, so furnished units will be geared toward tourists and therefore be much more expensive. Usually around double the cost, maybe more. The furnished rentals are usually set up for short-term, and therefore will want to charge you per day or week, i.e. more money.

NOTE: Furnished cheaper, apartments will likely have outdated furniture and decor.

Unfurnished Apartments – Often when you get an “unfurnished apartments” in Puerto Rico, it means that they do not come with appliances. That’s right. You’ll have to get your own fridge, oven, washer/dry and so on. So, you should keep that in mind when considering renting an unfurnished place for the first time. At the very least, ask if those things are already in place or not.

Apartment Repairs – Be sure you understand the expectations of your landlord when it comes to repairs. Usually, on a long-term rental, the renter is responsible for fixing things. Sometimes this means fixing everything and sometimes it means that you are responsible for the “small things” and the landlord the “big things”. Be sure you agree on the difference. Renting is quite a bit different than in the States. In our current apartment, we call the landlord for anything and he quickly fixes it, if this is what you’re used to, you may be in for a surprise.

That’s it for this post. I covered many of the common pitfalls, things to do when renting apartments in Puerto Rico, and having realistic expectations. In my next post in the series, I will cover our own experience of renting in PR and some of the mistakes we’ve made. Hopefully, it will help you avoid doing the same 🙂

Check out my posts: Real Estate In Puerto Rico Part 1- Is This A Good Time To Buy? and Renting Apartments – Real Estate Part 2a

Cheers,

Joanna-

About Joanna Rolston

is a Polish American living in Arizona with her husband Tim. She is a founding partner of JTR Tech and she is proud to be a professional geek. She had dreamt of living abroad for many years. So, she and Tim created AbroadDreams.com to document the process of making their dream of moving abroad come true. They spent 2 years in Puerto Rico and several months in Spain and Poland. Now they are exploring the American Southwest.

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9 comments

  1. Hi, I am looking seriously at job offer to work for a bank that is relocating to San Juan… I’ve been speed reading through your blogs and gaining some helpful hints.

    Ideally, I’d love to purchase a property but will most likely rent a place. Any suggestions on a location near the water ( no need to be on the beach ) .

    Is it possible and easy to buy land outside the city proper?

    Thank you for any additional thoughts.

    • There are lots of nice places near the beach in PR, it just depends on how much you want to spend. I’d recommend doing a scouting trip to see what/where you like, especially if you want to be near your job. Traffic in San Juan can be murder, so you definitely want to consider distance to work.
      Joanna-

  2. Interesting. We’ve never rented in PR, but have heard a few of these things before. Some of them not so much.

  3. Good information here..
    We just moved here.. and are in Camuy -WE love it so far.. our time at the beach was great!
    Our rental is $425 a month unfurnished. But its pretty decent for a 3 bed 2 bath.. spacious home.
    A good start at least 🙂
    We live on a busy main road.. so traffic is nuts.. so there is one thing to think about.
    Not to mention.. the parade of jeeps blasting their Caribbean tunes.. all wee hours of the night… oh and loud sirens lol.. WE just crack up laughing and dance around the house.
    Neighbor.. down the street has a million barking dogs. lol
    WE love the bakery down the road.. and the small town feel.. people are nice.
    It took me a day or 2 to get used to the roads up here in the mountains.. haha.. It can get tight! And I am still just jaw dropped at how close some of the houses are to the road.. I am used to long drive ways lol
    Today we enjoyed going to the beach in Arecibo.. Surf was crazy.. but we had a blast getting sea glass.. and walking the beach.. nobody was around.. and you can drive right on the beach.
    I love the malls out this way as well.. I can’t believe how cheap you can find stuff.. Forget WALMART.. My new favorite clothing store is Marianne – Econo and Amigo are great for groceries.. and Aliss for home decor. Berrios for several things.. furniture, appliances. They have lots of scratch n dent stuff.. they let go cheap. Got our mattress.. bed, and end tables all for under $500… all brand new.. They also deliver. -and speak English. We got a brand new washing machine.. nothing wrong with it.. $179. Got a Dresser that was damaged.. on drawers.. we removed drawers and made desk out of it. All great ways to save while living here… and live simple.. which is why we moved here 🙂

    • Hi Amanda,
      Glad that it’s working out for you. Sounds like you got a good deal on the house and it’s about what I would expect in a local neighborhood. When we lived in the mountains, we had a neighbor with a dog that barked every night at around 3AM. Another neighbor (a Russian man), got so sick of it that he took the guy to court over the dog – twice! LOL.
      Joanna-

  4. I have an update on the Tax situation I updated on my Blog
    Physicians may get a huge Tax break:

    “La medida -que es parte de una serie de iniciativas que se estarán desarrollando eventualmente-, busca establecer una tasa fija de contribución sobre ingresos de 4% sobre las ganancias generadas por el profesional médico, como consecuencia del desempeño de su práctica médica por un término de 15 años. La tasa contributiva actual es de un 33%. PUBLICIDAD También propone una exención contributiva a los primeros $250 mil.
    ENGLISH
    The measure, which is part of a series of initiatives that will be developing eventually, seeks to establish a fixed income tax rate of 4% on the profits generated by the medical professional as a result of the performance of his medical practice for a term Of 15 years. The current tax rate is 33%. ADVERTISING It also proposes a tax exemption for the first $ 250 thousand.” http://www.elnuevodia.com/noticias/locales/nota/unsalvavidasparadetenerlafugademedicosdelaisla-2279215/

    If True its more reason I will stay and Practice in Puerto Rico

  5. Agree with you, I was helping a couple friends one coming to Work at a San Juan Hospital, one coming to apply to Internships and another coming to start an Internship. For All three I looked on AirBnb for places to stay on the cheap and found places for 15 to 30 a night. For cheap temporary places to stay while looking, I suggest never renting long term without looking, I would stay at an AirBnb listing and then drive around, there are condos and homes for rent in Fajardo on the Clasificados for between 500 and 800 a month, some with sea views and added extras like pools and security. Clasificados can be downloaded for Iphone and Android and is like a PR Craig’s List

  6. Thank you, for this post. It confirms many things we already thought or had known.