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10 Steps to renting a place in Uruguay

Moving to Uruguay has been a real experience. When we came to Uruguay, we had some friends who were very generous in allowing us to stay at their country house. They already had family staying with them. We came and compounded the amount of energy in their house, food consumption, and time. On top of that they gave us their bedroom. We were very grateful for their generosity.

With that being said, our first priority was not to get a vehicle, visit places, doodle, but a place to get into as quickly as possible. We asked a cousin of mine to pick us up (my wife and I) while they were doing things around town. We looked for places to own and rent.

We had a real estate agent pick us up to look at a few places to buy. Quickly we determined that it was not feasible to purchase a property. However, we did learn that you had to go to each real estate office (Inmobiliaria) to explore their listings. Because of certain real estate laws here, the inmobilaria’s take very vague pictures of their properties. If too much detail is revealed, the agent could be circumvented and you could purchase the property directly with the owner or another real estate agent; cutting the original lister out of the picture.

Renting, however, is a little different. The property manager does have a contract and handles everything. Unless otherwise stated by the owner, the standard contract for a property is two years. When you rent a place you only get the shell of the house. No air conditioner/heater, no water heater, no ceiling fans and often- no light bulbs. You are responsible for the property, except for the internal walls. If a pipe busts or you find yourself with no electricity (you are responsible for fuse replacement), then the real estate office will take care of those problems. Not much more.

Some people in Uruguay are very trusting of you. The inmobilaria asked me to leave my passport with them for exchange of the keys to several properties to look at.

Before getting into any place (VERY IMPORTANT IF YOU DO NOT SPEAK THE LANGUAGE) is to get an Escribano/a (paralegal/notary) to take a look at the contract and let you know what you are signing. This is very important because someone we actually know got burned by not knowing what they were signing. The property manager lied directly to their faces about the contents of the contract.

The laws in Uruguay favor the renter, you cannot just get kicked out, as eviction is a long process. When signing, there are certain things that are against the law to include in the contract.

Neighborhood area is also very important. Before you rent a place, make sure you talk to the locals and get their input on areas they consider safe. We looked into an area in which the rent was a little less, but I did not feel safe leaving my wife alone.

You are charged for water usage and property taxes in addition to the rent that you are paying. We pay around an additional $25 for property taxes and $15 for water per month.

Here are 10 steps to renting a place in Uruguay:

  1. Find the place you are going to like for the next two years by going to different offices. They each have their own listing of properties.
  2. After you have carefully looked at the place, take pictures of things that are not in perfect shape. For example: scratches on windows, broken tiles, etc.
  3. Have the Inmobiliaria note those imperfections in the contract.
  4. Have the contract looked over by an attorney (Abogado) or paralegal/notary (Escribano). Using an Escribano is the cheaper route. You should not have to pay more then $20 to have an Escribano look over the contract.
  5. Sign the contract. You will get a copy of the contract after the property owner signs.
  6. If you do not have a Cedula (Uruguay residency card) you will have to deposit 6 months of rent with a bank. Even if you have a Cedula they may still want the deposit. You will need to pay the bank to hold that deposit. Give the receipt of deposit to the property manager.
  7. Get the keys to the place.
  8. Go to UTE to get the electricity setup.
  9. Go to Antel if you want internet and phone service.
  10. Move in

When paying for your rent, you go to the Inmobiliaria to pay. For the UTE or Antel you go to a payment processing center like Bacacay or Abitab.

If you are living internationally, what has your experience in getting a place to rent?