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Rental Scams in Mexico To Avoid

Living in Mexico will be different than you’re used to. No matter where you are coming from, things are likely done differently here than in other countries.

A good example of this is in real estate and rentals. In Mexico, it’s common to see the same house listed at several different prices with different agents and/or on different sites like Propiedades.com, Inmuebles24.com, Facebook Marketplace, or Homie.mx. Sometimes the difference in price can be as much as $20,000 MXN or about $1,000 USD difference for the same rental.

The Net Listing

Just this week, I have seen the same rental listed on 4 different sites, with 4 different price tags! So, what’s the actual price? The only way to know is to talk directly to the landlord or to work with a reputable rental agent.

It’s not uncommon for the same rental to be managed by several rental agents. And some may want to do what’s called a net listing.

A net listing is when the landlord tells his/her property manager they want to net X amount in rental income each month. So the rental agent will just increase the rental price and keep the remainder. Then guess who pays for their instant bonus? You do. It’s not illegal to do this because at the end of the day the landlord only wants to net a specific amount. So what’s stopping someone from getting more? Nothing.

But please keep in mind, not all rental agents do this. And we certainly don’t work with or recommend any that do.

The Fake Rental Agent

To make matters worse, a lot of expats assume that just because they are dealing with a Canadian or American, they have no risk of being taken advantage of. And unfortunately, unscrupulous people come from all countries.

In fact, there is a big-time scammer in San Miguel de Allende who is well known by the veteran expats who live there. But the newbies have no idea. And therefore she makes the newcomers her target.

The scam: she pretends she has permission to rent a place, rents it, collects the money, and turns out the landlord had no clue she was renting it out. What’s worse is the frustration and headache the renter has to go through to find a new rental. But now has a seriously bad first impression about living in Mexico.

And unfortunately, she’s one of many people who have taken advantage of the newbie. There are hundreds of stories of people posing as a property manager, renting a place out, and leaving people homeless- because they never had permission to rent a place to begin with!

So, please don’t ever give someone a deposit unless you have actually seen the home, signed a lease, and have keys in hand.

But not everyone is a scammer in Mexico. Not everyone is out to get the new gringo in town. Most people have good intentions. But the few bad apples that give the country a bad reputation are enough to spread the word.

The solution

Always do your due diligence. If a rental agent can’t point you to their references or a page with their honest reviews- don’t work with them. In most cases, a simple Google search will show you if someone has a good reputation or a bad one. Additionally, you could try to only work with landlords directly- cutting out any chance that there is an untrustworthy rental agent in between.

And if you can’t seem to find an honest and trustworthy rental agent to help you, we can give you a recommendation. We only recommend the agents in Mexico we trust and know have a good reputation. Saving you the time and the hassle. If we get even 1 complaint about them trying to do something unscrupulous that’s it. We don’t give second chances. And that’s how I ensure you get only the highest-rated recommendations when you’re our customer.

If you’d rather find a rental on your own, you’ll find most rentals listed online are managed by a company. There’s nothing wrong with this. But if you want to try and deal with the owners directly, most of them will not publish online.

If you’d really like to try to find a rental on your own, you could also rely on word of mouth – you just need to start asking people if they know of a rental like you are looking for. You’ll be surprised how many leads you can get in a short time. And remember, don’t buy or rent anything without seeing it first. In fact, it’s better to RENT for at least 12 months before you even think about buying. Twelve months in Mexico will give you time to make sure you love living in Mexico and that you have picked the right town, the right weather, and the right country!

The Airbnb Problem

But what if you’re only looking for a short-term rental?

A place you can secure while you look for your long-term rental. That’s where Airbnb is perfect! Until it isn’t. Let me explain

One of our customers uprooted her entire life and moved with her cats to Merida. She found the cutest 1 bedroom apartment on Airbnb at a reasonable monthly cost. So she decided to secure it for at least 4 months. Paying Airbnb 4 months upfront. When she arrived, everything was great! The place looked exactly like the pictures and the location is perfect. This was really working out!

Until the property manager informed her they were going to put the apartment on the market, and she would need to be flexible with showings. And when she expressed not being okay with random people walking around her apartment at all times of the day, the property manager threatened her with leaving a negative review.

Monthly rentals in Lake Chapala on Airbnb-

However, there was nothing on the Airbnb listing that mentioned the guest would have to be okay with showings in the house. And Airbnb of course is not very good at responding and mitigating the problem. And to make matters worse, she’s already paid 4 months upfront.

So what’s my recommendation? While I think that Airbnb is a GREAT solution for short-term rentals I also think you shouldn’t rent anything for more than a month before seeing it first. That way if you love it, you can always extend your stay. If you hate the rental, you only have a month to live through it.

Pay It Forward- Help a New Expat Avoid Being A Victim of A Scam!

If you’ve been a victim of a rental scam or any other type of scam in Mexico, I would love to know. Let’s pay it forward and help a future expat avoid a headache in the future.

Leave your comments below. If you’d rather send them to me privately, you can email me at info@mexicorelocationguide.com

Mariana Lange

Mariana Lima-Lange was born in Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. when she was a child. She spent every summer visiting family throughout Mexico and is very knowledgeable about Mexican culture, lifestyle, and traditions. She is fluent in both Spanish and English.

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