Friday, February 23, 2007

Renting long term in Buenos Aires

Most visitors come to Buenos Aires for a few weeks or perhaps a couple of months at most, such visitors are very well catered for here.

For those coming for a week or two there's an abundance of reasonably priced hotels in the city. Expect to pay anywhere from US$40 to US$200 per night depending on your standards.

For longer term visitors short-term rentals represent much better value. Fully furnished apartments can be rented on a monthly basis starting from US$500 per month upto US$3000 for a high-end luxury pad. Spend a bit of time searching and US$800 per month will get you a very nice apartment in the 'right' barrio (Belgrano, Recoleta, Palermo) with AC, a pool and weekly maid service included.

Before arriving for the first time I had contacted and via email, and made appointments to view four apartments on my second day of arrival. Within a week I had moved into my current apartment, paying one months rent ($600) as a deposit, and one month in advance for a studio apartment.

My personal life here has now changed, I now need a bigger place with two bedrooms. Portenos typically pay $300-$400 (900-1200 pesos) per month to live in the 'right' Barrios, i.e. at least half that of a tourist. But for this they get quite literally an empty apartment. Often the kitchen won't even have an oven and the apartment won't even have things like light fittings.

The system here is completely geared to protecting the apartment owners, and not the tennants. Firstly, it's almost impossible to rent long term without a guarantor...a property owner who is prepared to vouch for you by putting their property on the line. Fail to pay your rent, or fail to move out when your contract is up and your guarantor is liable. This is a massive hurdle to overcome for tourists with no family or strong connections here.

Secondly, owners will also demand to see proof of your income...not easy if you're a poker player!

I've spent several days in the past two weeks viewing apartments and talking with owners. Four of four owners flat out refused to rent to me without a gurantor, despite the offer of one years rent upfront. I naively thought waving a wad of pesos in their face would solve the problem, surely cash is more important than a signature? Clearly not.

Then, last week, a friend of a friend tells me she knows an owner who was keen to rent his place without the Inmobilarios (estate agents) taking their 20% cut. He listened to our plight and agreed to meet with his lawyer. A years rent upfront would suffice....or so we thought.

Our next meeting two days later and the rent has suddenly jumped from 9000 pesos per year to 12000...."administration" and "expenses" apparently. Gas, electricity, water etc are all to be paid for by us. Clearly another example of the Gringo Tax being applied. Affordable? Yes. Fair? No.

I have since told the owner where to go, and am continuing the hunt.

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