I have been receiving so many emails and questions lately about how the apartment/house rentals work in Argentina, what a "guarantia" is. I will follow this post with a listing of the places to look and how to interpret ads that are in Spanish. These posts will hopefully cover most things you need to know, in a nutshell.
Real Estate Market:
The rental market in Buenos Aires is currently going a bit crazy, we can thank all of the articles touting how cheap it is to rent here. Well, first of all, it can be less expensive, but it’s getting more and more difficult to find great inexpensive rentals. The competition is increasing, and even people I know that own properties are choosing to place their personal apartments in the tourist market, and rent cheaper apartments for themselves.
Even the market for Argentines has become tricky to navigate, as fewer affordable apartments are available.
However, don’t despair, negotiations are still possible, and if you’re creative, you’ll find there are definite options available, but patience will be a wonderful virtue to have.
The rental laws in Argentina are structured to protect the tenant, not the landlord. Actually, the laws here are much the same in countries like France. Some people move into a property and pay the first months rent and then never pay again. Squatter problems also exist, whereby a squatter can get into an empty house, make themselves up a paper that says they have right to be there. Thus, landlords must, and will do, everything in their power to protect themselves. The extremely slow court system here means that it can take up to two years to evict a tenant, and it’s even more difficult when the tenants include children. Landlords are almost never able to recoup their lost rents either. This causes many headaches on the tenant side as far as getting the contracts signed. Many owners will do everything through a real estate agency, and as was our case, you may have multiple meetings and contract signings to get through everything. You will have to pay the commission for the real estate agent as well. Depending upon the agency, your commission could be the equivalent of one month’s rent or could be ten percent of the total rental fee, and I’ve even heard of twenty percent on some less expensive rentals geared to foreigners – but the last is quite excessive. Expect to usually pay at least one months security, but if you’re paying up front you might be able to negotiate that a bit.
What is this thing called a “Guarantia”
Remember how the landlord can take years to get someone to pay back rent, or get them out of their property? Well the guarantia is what makes them feel that they can sleep at night.
A guarantia is essentially another persons promise of their property if you should default on your lease or destroy the property. It’s not officially a lien, but it gives the landlord more legal power to try to recoup their losses. It is extremely difficult to find someone to give a guarantia because they may be uncomfortable risking their property or they may already have given one to another person.
Another type of guarantia is one that is given from the company you work for. For instance, many of the foreign companies who send their workers here will give a guarantia for the property rental. But my bet is that most of you who read this won’t fall in that category.
Guarantias can be a issue for foreigners who want to rent an apartment or house, but it’s not something that will keep you from finding a place, but don’t feel alone, many Argentines have trouble as well. If you don’t have a guarantia, don’t worry, there are other options that are now available, such as paying your rent up front or pago adelantado, which is essentially what is happening in the tourist rental market.
If you do happen to come across an advertisement for an apartment where you don’t need a guarantia, then it will be read as s/gtia or sin garantia. Use caution with these, unless it’s because they’re willing to do an up front rental payment. You should make sure you check out the neighborhood and the apartment carefully.
A word of caution: some agencies and property owners offer to sell you a “guarantia” for a property. You are looking to lose your money with these. Most of these are properties that have multiple guarantias, and a smart landlord and agent can check the city properties registry to verify the property owners or see how many ownerships requests were made over a period of time. If they feel that there were too many, and even one could be too many, they they will tell you your guaratia is no good. Like I said before, perhaps you’ll lose your money, or maybe they’ll just be nice enough to refund your money…NOT.
Well, that's it for this post. More to come shortly.