Questions about renting an apartment in Brazil

I will be renting an apartment in Minas Gerais in the next 6 months, but I had some questions about what to expect.

I was told that it is common for apartments not to include an shower - should I expect to have to buy my own shower head for most cases?

As I'm looking at photos online of apartments, I notice there are no toilet seats - is this common in Brazil to not have a toilet seat, or is it common just to buy a toilet seat when you rent?

As far as taxes go - I see the price listed for the monthly rent due, but should I expect to pay any additional fees or taxes? I understand this may vary depending on the realtor, but is there a general rule / law in Brazil about taxes / fees associated with apartments?

Finally, as a US expat - is there anything that you can think of that might be "surprising" to me with renting in Brazil vs renting in the US that you think I might not be aware of? As a side note, I have been to Brazil twice, once in a hotel and once in a families house in Minas Gerais.

The issues surrounding renting in Brazil have been discussed in various topic, but they might be a bit hard to find even using the "Search the Brazil Forum" feature, so here goes...

First off, rental contracts (by law) are now fixed at 30 months in duration. Don't panic just yet! That actually is a good thing.

Should you break your contract and move out during the first 12 months you will end up paying a contractual fine equal to the balance of the rent owed during those 12 months. So avoid that if at all possible it can be a real shock to move out after 6 months and find you're still going to have to pay that additional six months of rent. Beginning in the 13th month that fine no longer is applied and you are free to move out, provided of course that you give notice of your intention to vacate equal to the number of months of deposit (usually 1 or 2) that you have had to pay on the apartment. What happens is that you pay the deposit which the landlord must use as your last month(s) rent payment(s) once you give notice. (note: you will be required to pay any difference if your rent was increased at the end of the first year)

Apart from the rental payment each month, you will in most cases (especially if you're renting in an apartment block) have to pay a monthly condominium fee, which may actually be divided into two separate fees one for internal maintenance of the building and another external for the grounds in larger condominium complexes. Sometimes this fee can be almost like another rent payment so find out how much it will be and exactly what it includes before you sign on the dotted line. It may include your water bill (this is common in buildings which do not have separate water meters), it also may include hot water (if you have it) and gas in some buildings, electricity in common areas, security, doorman and cleaning staff, etc. If it does then it's not so bad. If it doesn't then you're going to have to factor those in with other utilities like electricity and telephone, internet and cable TV. You may or may not have to pay extra for a parking space within the confines of the complex or in the underground parking facilities if available. Note that if you are paying condominum fees, you MAY be also required to pay any extraordinary fees that the council of owners deem necessary (or at least part of them). So say the roof on a building needs to be repaired or replaced, you might end up paying a part of that if you can't work that out with the landlord, you should make certain that responsibility for any extraordinary fees imposed by a condominium council is something clearly spelled out in your contract.

In most cases here in Brazil you will also have to pay the property taxes on the apartment, since the law permits landlords to pass them on to tenants for some strange reason I've never been able to figure out. It goes against the grain to pay taxes on a property that someone else is earning an income from instead of him/her paying that themselves, but that's the law here!

If you're in an apartment that does not already have hot water piped in or a small gas water heater in the bathroom, then yes you'll need to purchase one of the notorious Brazilian electric shower heads. Terrifying looking contraptions that would not even be allowed in most other countries!!! They're relatively inexpensive, starting off from around R$25 and going up from there depending on the bells and whistles you want. Make sure you have a qualified person install it and heed all of the safety warnings that come with it VERY CAREFULLY. In some places they are 127v and in others 220v so you really need to be cautious with that kind of current in an environment filled with water.

Usually toilet seats aren't part of the bathroom in most apartments. I wouldn't want to use somebody else's toliet seat anyway. They're cheap enough so just buy one you like and remove it when you move out.

Many apartments are also absolutely bare, they don't even have kitchen cupboards or below the counter cupboards either. You have in many just a granite or stainless steel countertop with a sink and tiled walls and floors. In this case you may want to check with the landlord BEFORE you go out and purchase anything, because some may not allow you to drill into walls to install cupboards, in which case you're limited to purchasing free-standing kitchen units that don't get attached to the walls.

You are required to return the apartment to the landlord in exactly the same condition in which you received it. You are responsible for all damage (excepting normal wear and tear) and if the apartment was freshly painted before you move in then you must paint it before moving out. So let's say the apartment has an airconditioner built-in and it just stops working (under normal use) then that's the landlord's responsibility not yours. If however you break the front panel or do some other kind of damage to it while moving furniture about, then you must cover the cost of repares or replacement. Same with any other fixtures that may be in the apartment.

Make sure that you, the landlord (or his agent) conduct a pre-occupancy inspection and clearly note the condition of absolutely everything about the apartment. Take photos with your cellular phone too as additional evidence. This will eliminate eventual disputes at the time of moving out, if everything is fully documented. Have a very critical eye when conducting this inspection, some things you may hardly notice now may become major problems in the future. Be especially watchful for things like the tell-tale signs of water infiltration such as peeling plaster, mould, bubbled paint, etc. Make sure that's well documented if you should find it.

You would be foolish not to obtain fire insurance, whatever the cost. If you have a fire and you're found to be liable for its cause, this could wipe you out financially since you will not only pay for any damages and losses you suffer, but also any suffered by every other tenant or owner in the building should they be effected.

If you rent through an administrator of some kind or realtor, you will probably need to pay one or more of the following. rental deposit equal to 1 or 2 months rent, rental insurance (in lieu of a guarantor who must be a citizen and property owner), fine for any late rent payments (5 day grace is usually required by law before a fine can be applied).

So now you know what you're up against.... happy apartment hunting!

James   Expat-blog Experts Team

Thanks for the in-depth reply. It was VERY helpful - and again, you're such an amazing asset to this community and I'm more than thankful for your numerous detailed replies. Keep up the awesome work James!

Yep, about the only thing in life that really is FREE is my advice. I'm loaded with 13 years of experience mostly gained by trial and error before there was an Expat-blog or anybody reliable to ask. Better still, I'm a volunteer!

It's knowing that I'm really helping lots and lots of expats like you that keeps me going strong. Glad I have a nearly unlimited mailbox with all of my postings here, because I need it with all the messages of thanks I get. Does an old guy's heart really good, ya know?


We want to leave the house after 12 months and our administrator says we have to pay fine equal to 3 months rent.

Laura_LTU :

We want to leave the house after 12 months and our administrator says we have to pay fine equal to 3 months rent.

fica estipulada a multa contratual de 3 alugueres na qual incorrerá a parte que infringir qualquer das cláusulas deste contrato, podendo a parte inocente, se assim lhe aprouver, considerar o pagamento dos alugueres que faltarem para o integral cumprimento das obrigacoes assumidas. a multa sera exigivel proporcional ao tempo restante da locacao, entretanto, se houver necessidade de recorrer aos meios judiciais a multa sera acrescida 20 porcento para as despesas resultantes desses atos alem juros de 1% e correcao monetaria

Hi Laura,

Your landlord is trying to pull a fast one on you. The tenancy laws (Lei de Inquilinato) are quite clear.

While the duration of a rental contract is 30 months, the contractual fine is only in effect for the first 12 months. If you decide to leave after that time you cannot be fined. If you break the contract during the first 12 months then the fine is equal to the remainder of the 12 months rent the landlord would have received. If you move out after the 12 month there is NO FINE.

Further, you are required to give notice equal the number of months deposit you paid when taking occupancy and the landlord is required to use the depoist as the final payment of rent for those months (usually 2).

Tell your landlord that you've been advised of your rights and of the Lei de Inquilinato and if HE/SHE doesn't comply then it will be you taking him/her to court. Then if necessary consult a lawyer and do just that.

James    Expat-blog Experts Team

Thank you a lot! To be honest it is not the first time we are following your posts as a help/solution. You know more than anyone I know :) Best wishes!

Hi Laura,

Thanks for the glowing vote of confidence!!!

Comes with being an o-l-d codger, and living here in Brazil for over 13 years now!  :lol:
Enough laps around the track and you start to get the hang of things.


We talked with a lawyer and it seems, unfortunately, we have to pay a fine, which is a bit smaller than the one written in the contract (due to 1 year stay) so it is 1.5 months of a rent value (which, as an absurd, together with seguro fianca  means that for a year you pay amount equal to 16.5 rents).  So as far as we understood the law is 100% correct, but 'breaking the contract' section (in which 30 months are written) makes you pay the fine. There is a law and there is always a way around it...

I'm sorry, unless there have been some changes to the Lei de Inquilinato that I'm not aware of the fine disappears at the end of the 12th month of renting the apartment.

That was the whole idea of enacting the law in the first place with the extended contractual period of 30 months. Landlords did not want to be "trapped" into maintaining the same rent for 2 1/2 years and tenants didn't want to be "locked into" an apartment for 2 1/2 years that they couldn't leave without paying a substantial fine.

Legislators made a compromise... landlords are entitled to raise the rent after the first and second anniversary date of the contract, and tenants could give notice and vacate the apartment without a contractual fine after the first year had elapsed.

And while the law is quite clear that under no circumstances the landlord can reclaim the apartment in that 30 months, just wait and see what would happen if his or her circumstances changed and they needed to live there themselves!!! They certainly can get around that section of the law easily enough at any time.

That's always the way it was with any place that I've rented. It only stands to reason that if the landlord isn't bound to maintain a fixed rent for the full duration of the contract then you shouldn't be bound to remain in the apartment or pay a fine.Ask the landlord or his agent if they are going to keep the rent the same for the full 30 months. I guarantee you the answer is NO.

All sounds pretty fishy to me, and if the lawyer clearly explained WHY you have to pay any fine after the first year I'd certainly like to hear it.


As for me the law seems absolutely fair ... But there is a section in which we have 'breaking the contract' part. It is an absurd! I also went to the Gera administracao and asked them about it and they also agree with a fine we have to pay :( it is an absolute easy money making machine!


If you are a renter and you cause a fire, the renter is responsible or the owner of the apartment is responsible for the damages to other units?  Can the owner be sued?  Also, where do I find out about Homeowners insurance for condos?  Seems hard to find folks who have this.  Most folks I talk to seem to have no insurance on homes.  If I rent an apartment and someone in my apartment trips and gets hurt, am I responsible or the owner?  Do you know?


Hi Miami Steve

Majority of the things depend on the contract that you make with the landlord.  If you have any questions about the ins and out of it the best thing or place to start at will be the contract itself.

Furthermore if you need more information about homeowners insurance the best place to look for will be at any "Immobilaria" or "iMoveis", (these are what we commonly refer to as "Real Estate Agencies"), in your city or the city that you are planning on moving to.

However I shall warn you that it is better to search or ask atleast 3 to 4 different agents prior to settling down with 1 as more often than not , they try to make as much profit as possible.

If you have anymore questions or require any other clarifications please feel free to ask



Boa noite,
I've kinda problem. I started renting a house last may but got fired as per 1st of september.
Due to this I lost my visa and can only stay here 3 months as a tourist.
What can I do with my rental contract + fine?
I'm not transferred by my company but also forced to move to another city due to "work".
Do you think I can avoid the fine?

Today to rent an apartment in any state of Brazil is no problem at all, but rather problem are their costs according to the type of building where the apartment conditions are offered in it, walking and the services of home offered. for those who have a good salary this is not a problem at all and you can always find what you want. But today one aspect has arisen with penance in a criminal way where people are deceived and thus their money can be lost. So if you are looking for an apartment to be pampered, be very careful where to find it because it can cause problems later. check the documents properly and give the owner's documents and ask to sign a contract with a Notary Public if they start saying that it is not necessary to contract and will make a lower price. Do not fall for this is a mistake. it is better to agr more and with a contract than less and to lose all the money paid.
take great care so that at the time of signing the contract that this apartment has no water electricity and other house services on the contrary depart from the moment you signed the contract of arenda you assume all responsibilities on everything related to the apartment

James remarks and pontifications are on spot.  Thirty Month terms are norm, and opt out built in clauses after 12 months of consecutive tenancy. 

There are no boilerplate contracts in Brazil, so you have to be guided by what the " Lei of Inquilinato" ( Tenancy Law ) stipulates.  Also there are no variations of the tenancy law, from State to State. It is a Federal Law ( strange but it is a fact ).

To ad my 5 cents, the Guarantees can be either a  Security Deposit ( 3 months ).  or a Guarantor ( with in State Real Estate Title ) , or Proof of Insurance ( Seguro Fiança ), or in some cases, "Título de Capitalização".   It can be  any of the above options, but it cannot be all of the above options. 

The Título de Capitalização actually bypasses the set ceiling on three months security deposit, as the landlord can, in agreement with the tenant,   set a higher ceiling ( say for instance, 5 months ). 

The Título de Capitalização it is an interest bearing financial product that can be redeemed by the tenant, at the end of the contract, if there are no outstanding disputes.
If the tenant is at fault,  and that can be decided by arbitration or courts, then you, as a tenant, lose the right to cash out the premium to the landlord. 

The Insurance, or "Seguro Fiança" , its premium is due every year and equals from 1-1/2 to 2 months worth of rent.  So, rule of thumb, you would end up paying, without recovery of the principal at the end of the lease, whether you  met your tenancy obligations or not , about 12-18% more on the lump sum of rent+condo+taxes, depending on your level of risk and coverage demanded by the landlord. 

The landlord then, can file a claim with the insurer through the Seguro Fiança policy, to recoup losses ( lack of payment, destruction of property, etc ).

New topic