Sunday, August 14, 2011


I know there are exceptions to every rule. But it has been many people's experience here that Mexican Landlords don't know how to function with a proper business mindset. To be more specific, they are sometimes unreasonable, greedy and hard-headed.

I know an American who has lived here in Merida for 11 years. He has lived here the entire time in the same rented home with his wife and four sons. When they first rented the property many years ago the home had been unoccupied for a few years. It was full of bats, scorpions, spiders and even some snakes. They rented the home for $600 monthly. They cleaned it out, fumigated it, installed new windows and screens, installed their own appliances in the kitchen (including the stove), poured a concrete extension onto the drive-way so they could park two cars, installed a privacy gate on the drive-way, installed a hot water heater, installed an additional laundry area/maid's quarters, installed their own a/c units, repainted the house inside and out, re-landscaped the backyard ......the list goes on.

And after doing all of this work themselves, after paying for all repairs and upgrades themselves with the landlord's full consent, after paying rent faithfully for over ten years and never once missing a payment or being late......the landlord kept their deposit when they moved out in June because.....a door was not shutting properly inside the house. She kept a $600 deposit and used a squeaky door as an excuse, even after my friends basically remodeled the entire house.

Don Adams in his book "Head for Mexico" talks about this tendency amongst Mexican landlords. In his book he makes the statement that if you or anyone you know has ever rented in Mexico and they actually got their deposit back, write him and let him know because he swears he has never heard of it happening. And he has lived here most of his adult life.

By the way, this is a good book. If you are considering moving to Mexico I recommend you buy it.

As for my own personal experience, up to this point I have had a pretty good relationship with my landlord. The only hiccup occured about 2 weeks ago. I was in the U.S. for a business trip the last three weeks of July and my wife called me and told me that our water had stopped running. I had a pretty good idea what the problem was. Most houses have a cistern underneath that holds about 200 liters of water along with a 100 liter water tank on top of the house. Your water pressure in your home is determined by gravity. When the water tank on top of the house gets low your water pump kicks on and takes water from the cistern below your house and sends it upward. The water tank on top has a sensor in it, much like your toilet, that is connected electronically to your water pump. When it gets full it shuts off the water pump and you are good to go.

Last year this sensor went out on my water tank within a month of moving in. So my landlord fixed it. This year, when it started to malfunction she told me it was my responsibility to get a plumber to fix it along with paying for all the needed parts. In her mind she reasoned that this was routine maintenance and I contractually was responsible for all maintenance. This really is a grey area because in my mind it is part of the overall plumbing system which she agrees she is always responsible for. So she is willing to force me to handle this and pay for the whole thing and she thinks this is good for our relationship. Now I have been paying my rent on time, by the grace of God, and yet she is willing to test our relationship.

In my mind this isn't maintenance. Yet it isn't spelled out in the contract and falls within a grey area. Yet this is how "most" Mexican landlords think after they get comfortable in their relationship with you. I have owned rental property before in Texas and the one thing I have learned is that renters can pose enough problems without making them mad renters. If you make them mad then, if they had any inclination in the first place to take care of the property, then they just stop doing so and can really get rough with the house.

My advice....if you come down here and rent....know what to expect.


1 comment:

  1. Hi, I stumbled onto this and my BF and I are moving there in November from NYC to start a new life (we are in our early 40s). We plan to rent for at least a year. He plans to utilize his plumbing skills in Merida and since we have been to the Yucatan a couple times already, we see this city as a great place for him to work, as we are both fluent in Spanish and English. We are aware that he will be making a fraction of what he earns here, but frankly we are so sick of the COLD weather. Do you have any idea of what a plumber can charge there? BTW love your salon and plan to visit!