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How to rent a house or apartment in Bolivia all the steps and details

How to Rent a House in Bolivia? All the Options & Steps

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If you want to rent a house or an apartment in Bolivia, you will need to follow some steps and avoid some risks in order to complete this task. Also how you are going to rent a property in this country depends a lot on the period of time you will be renting it. Anyway, the cost of renting a house here will be a lot less expensive than in other countries.

To rent a house or apartment in Bolivia for a short time, Airbnb is by far the best option. To do it for a long time, there are two options: 1) using Airbnb, and 2) the classic way, by searching a house for rent in realtors like ReMax or Century 21 and signing up a public deed to close the rental deal.

In the following lines, we’ll be talking about how to rent a house or an apartment in Bolivia by using 2 methods, Airbnb, and also the classic way with lawyers and signing up a public deed. Also, we’ll get into the pros and cons of these 2 options depending on several factors. We’re real estate experts from Bolivia (e.g. see our Bolivian real estate website), who help a lot of Bolivians through their real estate projects.

The 2 types of house rentals you will find in Bolivia

A) Short term house rentals

The majority of foreigners that come to Bolivia are planning to rent houses for just a few days or a few weeks. If this is your case, you are better off if you simply rent this house or apartment by using Airbnb, as this option will be far less expensive, safer and easier to do. Currently, Airbnb has about 5,000 properties for rent available in our country.

If you instead go the normal way, by renting a house with the help of a realtor, signing up a house rental contract, with the use of a public deed, etcetera, then you will spend a lot of time and resources, also, you’ll be at the risk of scammers that may take advantage of your foreign condition with overpriced rentals or some hidden issues in the rental contract. Also, you’ll need to set up all the furniture and some basic services for the house.

If you’ll rent a house or apartment in Bolivia for a matter of days or weeks, from our perspective, the only option you have is Airbnb, as it’s less expensive, safer and also a lot easier to rent by this way.

It’ll be very hard for you to find an owner that would like to rent his house for just days or weeks though the classic way, which is hiring a realtor, signing up a rental contract, making a public deed, etcetera. People in Bolivia normally expect to rent their properties for a long time, for years or at least for 6 months.

B) Long term house rentals

On the flip side, if you are coming to Bolivia to live for a long time, at least for a few months, then in this case you have 2 options:

  1. Again, by using Airbnb to rent the house.
  2. Through the assistance of ReMax and Century 21.

For long term house rentals, the longer you rent the less expensive it will be to just rent the normal way, as you know, by using realtor companies like ReMax and Century 21. You can find high quality houses or apartments for rent that are comparable to first world properties in the $400 to $1,000 range in almost all cases.

Remax Professional banner for a commercial space for rent in El Prado La Paz Bolivia
Remax Professional banner for a commercial space for rent in El Prado, La Paz, Bolivia.

Consider that when you rent a house in Bolivia the through classic way, with the help of realtors like ReMax or Century 21, you will get only the living space, so you’ll need to buy all the furniture, sometimes set up the basic services, and set up all the proper functionality for the house or apartment.

When using the classic way to rent a house in Bolivia, you’ll need to be careful about possible scams, unethical people and lawyers that will try to take advantage of your situation as a foreigner. Also, you’ll need to hire a lawyer, do some paperwork, check the honesty of the house’s owner, etcetera.

Steps to rent a house in Bolivia for a short time

As we just said, we consider that for you, as a person from overseas, the best option to rent a property here in Bolivia is through the use of Airbnb, because you’ll get almost the same quality of service that you would expect to get in first tier countries.

Attending this, we’ll summarize the steps you need to follow in order to rent an apartment or house in Bolivia through Airbnb:

  1. Create an account on Airbnb downloading it’s app in the following direction:
    1. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details/help?id=com.airbnb.android&hl=en&gl=US 
  2. You can search the house or apartment for rent that best meets your requirements with filters and other options inside the app.
  3. Narrow down the listings available according to your requirements.
  4. You will find the best deals in the range of $20 to $60 per day, also you’ll notice that most of the units available in Bolivia are standalone apartments or houses.
  5. After you find the right house or apartment for you, just book in, checkout and that’s all.

Airbnb currently has thousands of active listings for Bolivia, and many of them are superrentals, so take your time to get the best possible deal through this application.

Even if you’re planning to rent a house for just a few months in Bolivia, Airbnb is still a great option, because it’ll cost you almost the same as if you were renting a house using the classic way here. You can find great 2-bedroom units for rent on Airbnb for just $600 a month. With the classic way, you’ll find the same 2-bedroom unit, with no furniture or amenities, for around $400, so just a little bit less expensive.

Steps to rent a house in Bolivia for a long time

There may be several reasons for you wanting to rent though the normal way an apartment or house in Bolivia, for example, you’re coming to stay for a long period of time, maybe more than 6 months or more than 1 year, then you may find more suitable and less expensive just to rent a house hiring realtor companies, or renting it by yourself.

You’ll find out that this option has some pros and cons. Renting the classic way will be less expensive than through Airbnb, between 20% and 40% less expensive, but you’ll need to buy all the furniture and set up the proper functionality in your rented property (you can resell this stuff after their use for a residual price), you’ll also get more variety and more houses to choose from, but you will need to do additional paperwork and you may turn into the target of scammers too.

Take into consideration all these issues in order to choose whether you are going to rent through Airbnb or through realtor companies like ReMax or Century 21, or you’ll use your own effort and resources by searching on the newspaper, local real estate listing directories, etcetera.

1) Pre planning and preparation steps

If you want to rent house through the normal path, then you’ll need to do the following preparation and pre-planning steps:

  • Get ready the proper documents, you’ll need your valid passport and tourist visa if you’ll stay in Bolivia for less than 3 months, or the time specified in your visa. If you are going to be a temporary or permanent resident, then you’ll need to get your foreigners’ ID card, issued by the Bolivian government.
  • Hire a competent lawyer to assist you on the rental paperwork (in general, lawyers have a bad reputation here in Bolivia, many times they try to deceive or even scam people and their clients, and even more to foreigners, be very careful with this!). We only recommend you to find good references of lawyers in your own embassy or asking for these references on major banks of Bolivia.
  • Get a “Informe Rapido” (Quick Report) summary sheet of the house’s information. This document has the most important info and data about a house and its owner. This is why it’s widely used in real estate activities in Bolivia, because with this document, you can know if the house belongs to the owner, if the owner is giving you his real personal information, if the house has legal troubles, lawsuits or ongoing mortgages, etcetera. You should use this document to some extent to check if the owner is an honest person, and if the house doesn’t have legal troubles of which you wouldn’t know about. Get it with the help of your legal assistant, it’ll cost you between $15 to $20. Everything about this document is in our dedicated Spanish guide (Translated: Link).
Example Informe Rapido report showing that this house doesnt have any trouble
Example Informe Rapido report, showing that this house doesn’t have any pending paperwork.

You must find a good lawyer to assist you with the home rental paperwork in Bolivia. This is a crucial task, the lawyer needs to be ethical, professional and honest with you. A good lawyer will recharge you between $50 to $100 for all his services related to the rental process. You should also get a Informe Rapido report by yourself, and at the beginning of the process, to be sure that the house doesn’t have troubles going on.

2) Finding the apartment or house you are going to rent

You can find properties for rent through the classic way by searching on the 2 worldwide well-known realtor companies available in Bolivia, ReMax and Century 21, both companies combined have around 3,000 property listings available for rent and for sale within the country.

Headquarters of a Remax franchise Remax Professional located at San Miguel La Paz Bolivia
Headquarters of a Remax franchise (Remax Professional), located at San Miguel, La Paz, Bolivia.

The properties available for rent listed on ReMax for Bolivia are in the following direction:

The properties available for rent listed on Century 21 for Bolivia are in the following direction:

We encourage you to only search in these both companies to find the house you’ll rent in Bolivia, this advice because local realtors, independent real estate agents, newspapers and online real estate directories are not really safe and hide a lot of scammers. If you want to know more, visit our dedicated guide that walks you through this step.

We have a complete guide about how to find the house for rent available in Bolivia that meets your needs, in the following direction: How to find a house for rent in Bolivia? All the steps and methods.

3) Making and signing up the contract

After negotiating the rent amount and the other related conditions, you and the house’s owner will need to sign up a house rental contract, which by Bolivian law can be a private contract, but we recommend you to sign up a “public deed” for the house rental instead.

Private home rental contract which is wrong it always should be a public deed for the rental
Private home rental contract, which is wrong, it always should be a “public deed for the rental”.

A public deed for the home rental will protect you against possible future legal troubles. As you may know, a public deed is a public official registration and a legal proof that an agreement between the landlord and the tenant has occurred. You’ll also have the advantage that a public notary will review the deal between you and the landlord.

So, instead of signing up a private contract between you and the landlord, in all cases, you should ask and force the use of a public deed for the house rental, then all the legal stuff of this agreement will be clear and legally proven.

4) Turning the contract into a public deed in a public notary

What follows is you going to your legal assistant to make the “minute for the rental” (a bridge between a normal contract and a public deed). After he finishes the minute for the rental, you need to give it to a public notary (there are hundreds of them across Bolivia), then this professional after reviewing the agreement between you and the landlord will turn this minute into a public deed.

Public notary office located in the Central Zone of La Paz Bolivia
Public notary office, located in the Central Zone of La Paz, Bolivia.

When being in the public notary, you should always ask this professional for a deep evaluation of the agreement between both parties and also an evaluation of the personal information and status of the house that you are going to rent. A public notary in Bolivia is also a specialized lawyer that will add a layer of legal protection to your property rental deal.

5) Closing the rental operation

After the paperwork to make the public deed for the rental has been done, everything is ready and you can enjoy your new rented house in Bolivia. 

Remember that all landlords in the country need to pay a rental tax every month over the house rental income, you as a tenant never pay this tax, the landlord is responsible for paying it.

How do house rentals work in Bolivia?

People from overseas in Bolivia have the same rights as natives, so you’ll follow almost the same steps to make rental contracts and sign up public deeds in the country, as if you were a Bolivian citizen. Then, to create a house rental contract, you have 3 options:

  • Making a word agreement and just that, without any written contract (by all means not recommended! too much risk for the tenants and landlords).
  • Making an agreement and signing up for a private home rental contract (not recommended, this way doesn’t have all the legal guarantees).
  • Making an agreement and signing up a public deed for the house rental (recommended, it has the maximum protection from laws in Bolivia).

Norms and laws

All the regulation for house rental deals in Bolivia is inside the Civil Code (Translated: Link) of the country, which is a summary of the laws and regulations that norm civilian behaviors and transactions. Real estate rentals are regulated from the Article No. 685 to the Article No. 712 of this code.

Also, Bolivia’s Immigration Law (Translated: Link) states that foreigners have the same rights as Bolivians in all fields and aspects of life that affect citizens, including real estate, with some estrict exceptions on buying rural land.

Other details

There isn’t a statement of a minimum period of time for a house rental agreement, homes can be rented even for one day and this is permitted.

How much does it cost to rent an apartment or house in Bolivia?

You’ll find that normally a 1-bedroom unit in an exclusive neighborhood of a major city of Bolivia, will cost you between $200 and $400 to rent per month, and with Airbnb it will be around $300 per month.

A 2-bedroom unit will cost you between $300 to $500 to rent per month. With Airbnb it will be around $500 per month. 

A 3-bedroom or 4-bedroom unit will cost you between $400 and $800 to rent, with Airbnb it will be around $700 a month.

These examples are from apartments and  houses that are in the best neighborhoods of Bolivian cities, where you’ll feel as if you were in a suburb of a developed country. But in normal and poor Bolivian neighborhoods, rental prices can go down to 50% or less of the above ranges.

Precautions to take when renting real estate in Bolivia

Throughout this article we have given you some precautions on how to avoid possible scams and unethical people in your house’s rental process in Bolivia. We’ll summarize these precautions here, take into account all these precautions and apply as many of them as you can.

Remember that these recommendations don’t apply to renting through Airbnb, instead they apply for renting through the classic way, with the assistance of realtors, lawyers, etcetera.

To avoid possible risks and scammers in your rental process in Bolivia, do the following:

  • Hire the best possible lawyer you can find, search for references of legal professionals in your own embassy or in major banks of Bolivia. You should also hire multiple of them and separately, at least 3 so they can review the house rental process and the paperwork each one on their own.
  • Always sign up a public deed and not a private contract for the rental, a public deed will give you much more legal protection against future legal troubles and lawsuits with the landlord.
  • Ask for a deep review of the paperwork in the public notary, the notary is a legal professional that will review the paperwork, documents and the agreement for the rental, you need to ask him to make a deep review that should include the personal information of the house’s owner, the status of the house, etcetera.
  • Only hire 2 realtor recommended companies: ReMax and Century 21, these companies bring good services in Bolivia, the same as worldwide. On the contrary, local realtor companies are risky and don’t have the best services. It’s also a lot riskier to conduct the rental process by yourself, without any assistance.
  • Always inspect the house deeply, with, if possible, the assistance of a real estate agent, this is a general precaution that you need to take everywhere, but here in Bolivia you’ll find that many times people are not going to tell you anything about hidden troubles the house may have, and you may get ugly surprises later.

Conclusions:

In this guide about how to rent a house in Bolivia, you’ve learned that there are 2 ways to run this process. The first one is just by using Airbnb, which by far is the most suitable option for short-term rentals. On the other hand, when you want to rent for a long period of time there are 2 options, one is again using Airbnb. The other one is by the classic way, with the help of realtors lawyers and signing up a public deed for the rental.

You also realized that when going for a long-term house rental, you’ll save some money, between 20% and 40%, if you just choose the classic way rather than using Airbnb, but you’ll need to get all the furniture, services and needed functionality for the space you’re renting. Also, you’ll need to do some paperwork with the help of lawyers and realtors, which puts you at some risk of being scammed or getting an overpriced rental.

Finally, you also learned some precautions you should take in order to minimize the risks of being scammed or having legal issues with your home rental, which are: find the best possible legal assistance, always sign up a public deed for the rental, ask the notary for a deep review of the deal, only hire ReMax and Century 21, and deeply inspect the house you’ll rent with the help of an specialist.

We hope this information has helped you, and if you want to know more about the process of finding a house or apartment for rent in Bolivia, visit our dedicated guide in the following direction: How to find houses for rent in Bolivia? All the methods and details.

BolivianExperts.com, information about how to live, work, invest and travel in Bolivia.

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