Updated last year

Visiting the island many times over the years and getting to know the towns and different areas before making a move is the best way to avoid a costly mistake. Puerto Rico has 78 towns/municipalities, each has its flavour, so you need to become familiar with the island before you decide where you want to live. Puerto Rico may not be for you, renting is a good way to find this out.

Renting is the second best way to go for those people who are unsure of where they want to live or the lifestyle they prefer. This allows you to live in Puerto Rico while you learn the island, customs, people and see what best fits with the way you want to live.

Finding a property to rent is not too difficult but can be time-consuming. You either have to find a local realtor with some properties to rent, or you have to look in clasificados and or drive around looking for houses with a rental sign. Most rental properties are not listed, and realtors do not give you much help since they only get a few hundred dollars on a six-month to a one-year rental. For the most part, it is not worth it for them.

But be warned, your rental contract will likely be in Spanish and made to benefit the landlord. Housekeeping of the grounds and maybe even repairs may be left to you, so read the contract carefully. Also, check it for a section about breaking your lease in the event of a problem with the landlord (you may still be subject to pay the remainder of the year contract even if you move). Remember if it is not in the contract then the verbal agreement or statement never occurred,

 Most properties for rentals have no furniture and may not even have a stove or refrigerator. In Puerto Rico is fairly customary to just rent the walls. Make preparations to buy what you need for the rental unit and move it later to another rental or house/condo you purchase. Sometimes a landlord may be willing to lend or rent you some extra furniture for your place or just some spare pieces. Do not expect it but you can ask.

The rental related regulations are spread in several laws and for the most part basically, say that the contract is the law. So if it is in the contract and you have a beef with the landlord, more than likely you will still loose, especially if the owner knows the judge.

We recently had a member with landlord issues; the property had cracks and water was coming in around the stairs which was causing a mold problem and a slippery situation. So they are going to court -- likely the judge will hear both sides and go with the writing on the contract. In the event that you decide to take the landlord to court or them you, you will need a lawyer, and the case will likely be conducted in Spanish. Due to cost, a lot of people that have issues with landlords just move and never take the landlord to court. That is one reason why there are some bad landlords.

So rent but be careful and if you can speak with the previous tenants, this may have an opportunity to see what it will be like, but that is not always possible.

Animals: Animals are not always welcome in rental units even if the house is concrete and has a tile floor. This may make it difficult to find a rental unit, be prepared to have this issue if you have animals.

Insurance: There are general independent insurance agents all over the island that can sell you insurance for just about anything under the sun. Read the landlord contract, not only may the landlord require you to have renters insurance, but he may want to have the entire house insured so if it burns to the ground or you get hurt it is your insurance that pays for everything, yes some landlords are like that.

If you are serious about living in Puerto Rico, use the rental time wisely and find where you want to live permanently and the area that best fits your lifestyle, then purchase a property.

See me in the Puerto Rico forum if you have additional questions.

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