Tenancy Laws in Puerto Rico

Hello Everyone,

   My husband and I own a vacation rental property in Arecibo, PR. Right now we're living in CT and have a caretaker looking after our property in PR. We currently have our house in CT for sale and plan on moving to PR as soon as we sell. The plan is to rent or buy another house in the Arecibo area and continue to rent our main house as a vacation property.
    For the past year we've  only done very short term rentals, no longer than 2 weeks at a time. The house is listed on Homeaway,Airbnb & TripAdvisor. I've only used their standard rental agreements and have had no problems. I've just received a request for a couple to rent our house for 3 months next winter. In some states in the US, if a person occupies a property for more than 28 days and receives mail there, they are considered a tenant. If they refuse to leave, you then have to go through an eviction process. I was wondering if there is a way to protect myself in PR from that. If I have a rental agreement that states the dates of the 3 month rental period,would that be enough to protect myself on the off chance that the people refused to leave at the end of their agreement? Would the police remove them or would I be forced to go through court proceedings? I've heard horror stories from Airbnb owners of things like this happening to them and just wondered what the process is in PR. Thank you for any help you can give.

Rey has posted some links a while back on tenant/ landlord rights.   The first thing would be to find out if there are going to be children staying .Always a lot harder for the courts if children are on the property.

I am not a lawyer, but it is likely that tenants rights would apply. If you are with AirBnb or any others, check the agreements. You have their credit card and they have a agreement on daily rate. If they stay longer, have Airbnb charge their card at the daily rate. Check what will happen if they stay longer in Airbnb. I think there is covered insurance for that and damages. Ask what happens if the card runs out of funds or if they cancel the card and stay longer than agreed. I'll check my previous post for some links in a little bit. When I say Airbnb I mean all those outfits. Renting outside of them may live you with court only resources. Check with those outfits.

Here is my on the subject check the links

ReyP :

A lot of people in this forum are renting properties for either their entire stay in the island or for a period of time while they find the property of their dreams.

Some of you had run into trouble due to landlords with Zero ethics. So lets talk about it, but before we do that here is an article I found that covers your rights and advices you on what should be in the contract.

Know your rights and consult a lawyer for free, most lawyers will provide you with a free initial consultation. Also lawyers are not as expensive as in the states.

If you can not afford a lawyer you may still get free service, see this site: I tried the link in that page and it does not work, but the phone numbers may.

Basically the contract they sign is the law. You are not able to push them out, but you must take them to court to evict them. The property does not have be be pristine, so if after they stop paying the toilet breaks or you cancel all maintenance, that is too bad for them. They are not paying so no obligation exist to maintain it either. Court to push them out is absolutely required.
You can always take a risk if they are mainlanders and you run a credit check that shows they are employed, for locals, forget it!!!

The typical practice is to give a discount for longer stays, using a house at 150 a night which may be cheap for your place:
150 * 30 days = 4,500 * 3 months = 13,500 (paid upfront!!!!!!)
With typical discount it would be:
150 * 22 days = 3000 * 3 months = 9,000 (paid upfront!!!!!!, not month to month)

*** Note you do not have to give them a break in the cost, that is an incentive when you want people to stay longer.

You loose from making 4,500 assuming they don't stay over the period without paying.
Is it worth the risk???? Only you can answer that.

But I would not rent the place at any price unless the stay is paid in full and ahead and I would have in the contract that any days of stays past the agreed date and time would be charge at the standard daily rate as soon as the contracted period has expired, I would also have them sign the agreement with a clause that any legal expenses would also be payed by them in the event that it is necessary to take them to court

To make it binding I would require it be done via a lawyer that practices in PR, This is dealing with properties which are based on the law at the property location.

As others have said, if there are kids involved and the people are local, the court would likely go easier on them.

If you still want to still do it, make sure they pay ahead by certified check at the moment the contract is signed, then turn over the key. I would further ask for a percent upfront for holding the property open for them, that amount to be payed no later than 60 days before the start of the period and such amount to be credited toward the full amount provided that they do not cancel at the last minute in which case you get to retain the money.

If it is not in writing, then it does not exist and it should be done via a lawyer which knows the laws and can build every protection possible into the contract to allay all your fears.

Thanks so much for the replies. I think I've decided against doing anything longer than 28 days. These people are mainlanders, but haven't given me any information about the reason for their stay.
    They contacted me through Homeaway about renting the house. Homeaway is different than Airbnb as they use an outside company to handle their credit card payments. They will not charge a persons card for anything without their approval. Airbnb recently made a change in their policy where in agreements over 30 days, if a renter overstays, they charge their credit card double the nightly rate for each night. So they offer a little more protection for the owner. But I still wonder what would happen if the card was maxed out or if it was a debit card with no funds in the account. I think it's too much of a risk.   
    Our cancellation policy on Homeaway gives back 100% as long as they cancel 30 days before their trip. I don't know if you can use different cancellation policies for certain bookings. Under my current policy, if they cancelled, I'd be out their money and be hard pressed to fill 3 months on short notice.
   Rey P, you actually hit the nail on the head as far as our pricing. We charge $150 per night or $1000 per week, for up to 4 guests.  I had considered charging $2800-$3000 per month if I was to rent by the month. So I guess I was in the right ball park:-)
   The months they are asking for are Jan-April, which is our busiest time anyway, so we'll have no problem filling it with regular weekly renters.
    I thank you for your replies. I think I already knew it was a bad idea, but I'm so glad to now have facts to take into consideration.

The overstay protection on Airbnb sounds sweet. Do check with them about card cancelation and out of funds card. I know they have some sort of insurance for damages by clients but not sure.

Some people seem to prefer homeaway over Airbnb because Airbnb according to them tends to attract younger people that party and make a lot of noise and sometimes damages. They say neighbors tend to complain. I do not know if this is true or not, but that is something I been told by some.
Please post anything about the overstay and credit card issue here. I'm sure others would find it interesting.
Ps. Airbnb has several refund policies, not sure if you can make your own, but the different ones they have seem reasonable to me. You can switch the policy you use per property.

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