Security deposit for a long-term renting

Hi Everyone!

I need an advice about handling security deposit. As I mentioned before, while on vacation (for next two weeks!!! ), I plan to find and secure one-bedroom apartment/condo in Cabarete area for my long-term stay starting December 1st. I already have a couple places to check out.

Let say, I checked a place out and liked it. Now I need to pay the amount of two month rent (first and last month plus a small deposit for electricity) in order to secure it for my next arrival by December 1st. Would it be enough (or necessary) to sign a contract and pay the money to the owner of the place at the notary public office to make it official?  Is it an appropriate practice for a such kind of transaction in Cabarete area? What would be the best way to handle this?  I would appreciate your comments and suggestions. Thank you!

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