Some Common Issues/Mistakes in Leasing Mexican Property

1. Signing a lease without asking the landlord for proof of ownership. 99 % of the time people lease property without making sure if the landlord is actually the owner of a record. After all, you do not want to sign a lease with a squatter posing as an owner, or do you?

2. Signing a lease without making sure if the property/condo/community has major issues. Don’t rush into a rental agreement if something doesn’t feel right. One example: does the fine print stipulate that you have to pay extra for utilities, water, parking, HOA fees? Or does the price of rent include such fees? Is there feuding among residents and the HOA?

3. Not having an attorney review the Lease plus signing a contract in a foreign language without the help of an interpreter. If you are not an attorney, or if you are one but are licensed in the US or Canada this means even attorneys are at risk, the meaning of terms in Spanish is not always the same in English thus the true meaning of clauses and efficacy of leases may be a problem. Do you think you might sublet at any time? Is subletting a clause included in the contract? Has the contract been translated to you, and has the attorney reviewed it even at the beginning of talks as well as prior to signing the final version of the lease?

4. Is the property to be leased current with mortgage payments? Don’t assume anything, verify this, always ask essential questions and request proof.

5. Will you be subletting the property under a lease? Too many tenants illegally sublet the property and rarely confirm if the lease allows it.

6. Not making a technical inspection of the property. You should hire an inspector to perform a thorough check of the property before you accept it as is. You’ll want to note pre-existing damage on the landlord’s move-in checklist. If the landlord doesn’t have one, make your own list and send it to the landlord, signed and dated. And before signing a lease, get in writing any major repairs the landlord has promised to make.

7. Not checking out the neighborhood or the community. I recommend that if you’re serious about a rental, knock on the doors of a few neighbors to ask about the building’s upkeep and neighborhood safety. And come back to visit the property at night: That quiet street corner could look quite different after dark.

8. Signing 10-year leases or worse. By law, leases in Mexico of residential property cannot exceed 10 years, so if you are signing a lease for 10 or more years, even if you have the right to renew, make sure what you are getting into, particularly if you are building a home on the landlord’s property and/or making improvements. Again popular wisdom tells us”: “Don’t invest more than you are willing to lose”.

9. Not taking action if your landlord breaks the law. When few properties or apartments are available, some landlords believe they can get away with letting repairs go, allowing unsafe conditions to persist, or increasing rent above what the Civil Code allows. Most often, some Mexican landlords count on their tenants being ignorant of the law. Tenants give up rights and fail to assert rights all the time” because they don’t know what they’re entitled to. Don’t be one of them. The best landlords know the law and follow it. Those who don’t shouldn’t be able to count on your ignorance.

10. Make sure that short term renters will not be a problem. Permanent residents of a community would do themselves a favor by checking beforehand if Airbnb tenants will not become a nuisance of his way of living, you want to make sure the place is what you expect and if short term rentals will become a problem then make sure to ask if the HOA allows Airbnb rentals.

Rafael Solorzano
Attorney at Law / Licensed Exclusively in Mexico


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