Sunday, June 24, 2012

Renting a House or an Apartment in Mexico

Renting a house or an apartment in Mexico means no legislative protection. Many landlords in Oaxaca prefer renting to foreigners because we pay more and cause less trouble than our Mexican counterparts. Rumor has it that we are also easier to evict.

In the 1970s, the Canadian province of Manitoba, which was where I lived for over twenty years, passed the original Landlord and Tenant Act, and set-up the Residential Tenancy Branch. In my early years, during the time when I lived in low rent housing, I was grateful for the legislation that clearly defined my rights.

View from the street. Typically here in Oaxaca
properties are walled in.
For those of you who regularly read my blog, you will know that I live at the back of a garden. My landlady, Ruth, lives in the big house in front. Our relationship must be cordial or my living arrangement would not work. Generally, it works.

However, making it work means I suspend my Canadian sensibilities and understand my legal rights are non-existent, and under the circumstances inappropriate.

 Ruth was a young widow left three sons and a daughter and a business to run. The children are grown. Two of her sons have left the country. This is typical. Men, who can, leave for greener pastures. Eric, the son who still lives in Mexico, dreams of returning to Canada to study for an MBA. If fortune is with him, he will remain in the land of opportunity.

Mexican men, by virtue of their gender, believe they are superior. However, interestingly enough, they revere their mothers. Mexican women are strong, but in my opinion, foolishly relinquish authority to their male adult children, if their husband has passed away.

Frequently, inside a treasure awaits.
The dynamic I experience is frustrating. I tell Eric something needs repairing. "Don't worry," he says. And it doesn't get done. I ask his mother, she tells me to ask Eric. On what seems like a whim, things that were unrepaired for a year are fixed. "If I'd known sooner," Ruth says. "I told Eric many times and eventually gave up," I said.

The weather stripping on my door split and eventually flapped about. A few weeks ago I removed it, gave it to Eric, and asked him to replace it. It hasn't been replaced. The torrential rains pour down, and water leaks through the three inch crack at the bottom of my door.

Hot water is a thing of the past. At first I thought it might simply be the pilot light. The hot water tank resides in my neighbor’s apartment. Even after he lights it, we lack hot water. I explain this to Ruth; she tells me it is just the pilot light. I tell her the pilot light was lit, and still there is no hot water. She tells me she'll look into it. I know a new hot water tank is needed, and I know she doesn't want to spend the money. I'd pay for the hot water tank, but that won't work either. Mexican pride, I suppose.

If you plan on renting a house or an apartment in Mexico, prepare to give up many of the niceties you once had, live without legal protections, and learn to maneuver through a very different culture. But, affordable rent, mine hasn't been raised in the three years I've lived here, and fantastic weather consoles many.


Wendy Craig said...

I enjoyed reading this, Oreen. Reminded me of when I was living in Greece - my landlady was the village baker. Time seemed to have a different meaning sometimes!

Oreen Scott said...

Hi Wendy:

How long were you in Greece? Mexicans are notorious for their habit of never being on time.

Wendy Craig said...

I lived in a village on Crete for 3 months then went back twice for a month at a time. Am hoping to go back next year also.

Christina Gregoire said...

Renting an apartment in Mexico sounds rather different than in the states. In general, it is difficult to evict tenants in the US, but both landlords and tenants have legal rights and recourse. It's a good thing you get along with your landlady. I knew a woman who lived in Peru for a while. She learned little tricks. She had problems with a contracter and she baked apple pie every time he came over. Maybe you can try the same type of thing...something simple...cookies, popcorn, and (maybe) soon the young man may be more timely...if he smells cookies. It's just a thought. That's what worked for my friend who lived in Peru.

Oreen Scott said...

Hi Wendy:

Greece with all its economic woes and ancient history must be a very dynamic place to be.

Oreen Scott said...

Hi Tina:

I'm happy to report that a new boiler for the hot water tank was purchased yesterday, and a new lock for the front door.

Mother Ruth got involved. It was pouring rain yesterday, in the way it can pour down only in the tropics. I couldn't get in. I rang all the doorbells over and over without stopping, Anxious to get inside.

Mother Ruth, luckily was home. I explained how two weeks before I discussed the lock problem with Erik. I think she had a little talk with her son.