Renting an apartment in BA

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#1
Everybody seems to believe that Buenos Aires is a very inexpensive place. You can open a classifieds section of the Clarin newspaper and see apartments for rent listed for 400 pesos per month. Is it for real? Well, hold your excitement.

Seller's Market

If you decided to rent, first of all remember that it is a seller's market out there. Salary levels are low and it is very difficult to get a credit to buy a house or an apartment. So, there are a lot of people looking for a place to rent. That makes landlords very demanding. Don't expect that they will give you a lot of room for negotiations.

Landlord/Tenant laws

Laws here are extremely protective to the tenant. There are people who pay rent for the very first month only and do not pay anything after that at all. With a slow judicial system it may take years for landlord to evict a non-paying tenant. And unpaid rent is almost never getting recovered. From what I have heard it comes down to some absolutely bizarre situations. Even if there is no contract, for example, if somebody breaks into an apartment and lives there for some time, it is very difficult to get them out legally. All these makes landlords extremely cautious. This is where the requirement for garantias (see below) comes from. Most of landlords prefer to employ a professional real estate agent to make sure that everything is ok legal wise. It is customary for a tenant to pay to the real estate agent an equivalent of 1 month rent in addition to 1 month security deposit that he pays to the landlord.

Garantias

The biggest problem for a foreigners who want to rent an apartment here is that normally they do not have so called "garantia" and almost always it is absolutely required to have one. Garantia is an official commitment of another home- or apartment owner to be responsible for your debts related to the lease contract. While technically it is not a lien against his property itself, landlord can use legal means to go after the property should he encounter any problems. Naturally, it is very difficult if not impossible to find a person who will agree to give you a garantia and put his property at risk.

Apartments for which garantia is not required are advertised as "s/gtia" (sin garantia). Usually they are located in bad neighborhoods or there is something wrong about them otherwise, so landlord has to offer a special incentive to find somebody to rent it to. If you don't have a garantia, you can offer to pay the rent for several (normally 6) months in advance (pago adelantado). Not every landlord will agree to accept it in exchange for dropping the garantia requirement though.

There are some agencies and individuals offering to buy a garantia from them. The catch is that normally they use the same set of properties or just a single apartment to give garantias to many people. Potential landlord (or real estate agent) can request the city properties registry to confirm ownership of the property that is intended to be used for a garantia. He can also inquire about number of ownership requests that were made during last 6 month. If the number of requests happens to be unusually high, your garantia will be rejected. Now can you go back to the place you bought the garantia from for $300 bucks and they will offer to give you back a $100 just because they are nice. Oh, you don't like it, then just go away (c).

Where to search?

Assuming you are going to stay here for at least 6 month and are trying to find something on the same terms as the locals, you should start from following real estate classifieds:



  • [ ] Clarin - the most popular national newspaper
    [ ]La Nacion - conservative newspaper generally for reach people
    [ ] Segundamano - weekly free advertisement newsletter (free for people who post ads)
There is also a website called Solodueños for people who want to rent or send their own apartments without getting a real estate agent involved.

How to read an ad?

These "for rent" listings are heavy on abbreviations. For example it can look like

Recoleta 580 | Alquiler ofrecido | Departamentos | 1amb
1amb +gtos 34m sol a/p ampl div temp pisc mucam 14-18 Guido 1888 8ºP XYZ IMBOBILIARIA 5555-5555

Let's go through some common abbreviations:
Unusual conditions:
s/gtía - sin garantia (no co-signer necessary - rare)
temp - alquiler temporario (available for a short term rent)
amobl - amoblado - furnished
Money:
D, u$d, USD - american dollar. Otherwise it is assumed that the price is in pesos. Even if it has a $ sign in front of it.
What's included:

expens - expensas - condo fee (tennant pays it unless stated otherwise)
+gtos - plus gastos - in addition to expensas tennant has to pay for utilities
t/incl, tdo incluído - todo incluido - everything is included into the price
paq - paquete - the same as "todo incluido", sometimes implies someting extra like maid service​
Number of rooms:
amb - ambiente.
Ambiente is not the same as a bedroom. Living room also counts as an ambiente.
1amb - studio apartment, 3amb - 2 br.​
Position:
fte - frente - in front
cfrte, cfte - contrafrente - one that does not look to the street
lat - lateral - on the side of the building
pulmon - windows open into a narrow well that goes from the top to the bottom of a building​
Condition of property:
a estr - a estrenar - brand new
t/nvo - todo nuevo - everything is new (not necesarily brand new, it may be recycled)
cat, categ - de categoria - upscale luxury building/apt
exc - excelente - excellent​
Others:
dño - dueño - apartment is rented by the owner, not the real estate agency
apto/prof, apto profes, a/p - apto professional - can be used as an office
ubic - ubicacion - good location
lum,lumin,luz,t/sol - sunny, luminous
bc - balcon - balcony
ptio - patio - back yard
coc - cocina
bñ, bño - baño
ampl - amplio
pisc - piscina - pool
mucam - mucama - maid service
vig - vigilancia - secured building
V/14-18 - you can see(ver) it from 2 to 6pm​
So the ad above should read:
Recoleta 580 pesos | Alquiler ofrecido | Departamentos | 1amb
1 ambiente, plus gastos, superficie 34 metros cuadrados, sol, apto professional, alquiler temporario, piscina, mucama, ver 14-18, calle Guido, altura 1888, departamento 8ºP

or in english:
Recoleta 580 pesos| For rent | Apartments | Studio
studio, condo fee and utilities not included, 34 square meters, sunny, can be used as an office, short term lease possible, pool, maid service, you can see it from 2-8pm, 1888 Guido, apartment 8ºP (8º means eights floor)

Temporary lease

Contracts with a lease period shorter than 2 years are considered temporary contracts. La Nacion classifieds has a separate section for short term rentals. Otherwise listings of this type contain word "temp" (alquiler temporario) or minimum term of lease is explicitly specified (for example, "3mes").
You can call the number and ask whether they will consider to rent the apartment for a short term. Many of them will do agree to do it but expect the rent to be significantly higher.
 
#2
Dear Sir/Madame,

Good day, it's a pleasure mailing your office, and thus we are pretty interested to rent a house, apartment, or studio for a capacity of 2 persons in buenos aires, also for just 500 pesos monthly. I will end here for now, hoping to hear from you soon.

Regards,

Eric
 
#3
Eric,

This is a very good sample letter. Now create a list of all rental agencies you can find and mail it to them. Then wait for result.

And welcome to the club, oh sarcastic newcomer!

--
In case you are not being sarcastic go to the websites mentioned above and check current prices.
 
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