Knowing the law and your rights in Mexico is the most important step in protecting yourself in Mexico. This can be anything from dealing with the police, the courts, or even another individual. We try to address current trends and rumors in the community, and lately, the increasing problems between homeowners and tenants are of growing concern .
Whether these deals are private or using one of the many services available, there is one simple way to deal with most of them. Due diligence. If all issues are dealt with up front, 95% of these issues will go away. The only other issue remaining would be the security deposit that may or may not be owed to the tenant. We all have to understand that some of the final utility bills that may need to be paid for, can take some time to arrive. The parties involved need to hang onto the security deposit a little longer than normal.
The other issue with security deposit ties into the due diligence mentioned earlier. Many owners/tenants do not do a complete and thorough inventory, and a proper inspection of the home upon move-in, generally called a ‘walk through’. This leaves all kinds of opportunity for disagreements later on as to damages caused or items missing from the property. If no room for argument is left open, this will decrease/eliminate the possibility for problems later.
Advice for the owners: Make sure the lease prepared is absolutely complete with all details agreed upon. There are several boilerplate leases available but they are very generic. A lease should be specific to each property, which in the age of computers should be very simple. We recommend having as little physical writing on the contract/lease as possible. A detailed inventory list, including everything from sheets and towels to the fridge, stove, and art on the walls, must also be completed before the tenants move in. Once this is completed, the contents and condition can be verified with the tenants when they move into the property. Also prepare a room-by-room walk-through of the property, noting all damage to walls, furniture, appliances, and surrounding grounds associated with the property. Make sure nothing is left out which can be later blamed on the other party. Have all the documents, the lease, inventory list, and condition list signed off on. All copies must have original signatures. Make sure these are accurate and detailed, as once signed off upon, there will not be any recourse later on.
Advice for the tenants: It is absolutely essential that you get a lease/contract with original signatures, photocopies are NOT acceptable if problems arise in the future or if the contract/lease is in dispute. The lease can be photocopied, but all parties must sign each copy. If you do not understand something in the lease, address it before signing. Once signed by you, you have agreed to the terms, no matter what. Even if something is written into the contract that is illegal, by signing the document, you are agreeing to break the law as well. Upon your move-in date and walk-through, make sure the inventory list and damage report is accurate, as there will be no recourse once the documents are signed. Make sure if there is damage not on the report that it be addressed right away.
Remember, if you are not sure of what is happening, do not blindly sign something and hope for the best. Seek out a source that can help you with your questions, whether it be your lawyer, a Notario, or even an organization like the Lake Chapala Society. There is a wealth of information out there if you know where to look.