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Renting PropertyBack to top Back to main Skip to menu
Jamaica - Renting Property
For a start, if you arrive in Jamaica as a tourist, you do not have the right to work in the country or even stay for a prolonged period until you get a visa. You can find out more about this in the Visas section of this country guide. This is important to know because a good landlord will ask to see proof of your right to stay in Jamaica before accepting you as a tenant.
Your Budget Might Not Stretch To Luxury Property
Jamaica’s tourist industry is an important part of its economy. Restaurants, hotels and attractions serve more than a million international visitors every year. The short-term rental of flats and houses to tourists has been happening for a long time in the country, and the rise of companies such as Airbnb is expanding the number of holiday rental units further. Sometimes investors have purchased property on the island; while they want a holiday home for themselves, they will also be happy to let the property earn money when they aren’t there.
Jamaica has a number of regulations in place demanding that all tourist rentals, including Airbnb properties, are licensed and that all due taxes are paid. Unfortunately, tourists are usually unaware of this and will happily book into properties where the owners are flouting the law in order to save money and offer a more competitive rental fee.
The presence of all these rental properties is an issue for anyone looking to rent long term, as it takes many homes out of the pool of available rental properties.
Moreover, tourists typically want the type of properties you may be seeking as an expat. Sea view homes and luxury pads in gated communities command a high price for the holiday season, which means that landlords who are considering a long-term rental period for those homes will charge a high monthly rent to cover any lost tourist income.
Bearing this in mind, you may find it difficult to meet your expectations without having a generous budget. Instead, work out which aspects of a new home are important to you, and prioritise your funds towards them.
Neighbourhoods In Jamaica
You will want to avoid moving to an area of gang violence and high crime. Whilst robbery and theft are the crimes most widely experienced by tourists and expats in Jamaica, murder, shootings and sexual assault are also genuine risks. In a poor neighbourhood, some local people will assume you have enough resources to justify requests for money or even to burgle your new home.
The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office urges visitors to avoid West Kingston, Grant’s Pen, August Town, Harbour View, Spanish Town and certain parts of Montego Bay, including Flankers, Barrett Town, Norwood, Glendevon, Rose Heights and Mount Salem.
In 2018, extended Zones of Special Operations (ZOSOs) were in place in certain neighbourhoods in Kingston (Denham town and other areas in West Kingston), along with an official State of Emergency in the following areas:
● The Parish of St James, including Montego Bay
● St Catherine North State (specifically Spanish Town, Linstead and Bog Walk)
● Specified boundaries in parts of Kingston Central, Kingston Western and St Andrew South Police Divisions.
Expats generally prefer to live on the northern coast, especially around Negril. St. James and St. Ann are popular, while Westmoreland, Runaway Bay, Discovery Bay and Port Antonio are also worth investigating. The area around Falmouth is one of the many areas that could offer a suitable rural retreat.
Jamaica suffers frequent damage and disruption from natural disasters, including hurricanes, floods, landslips, earthquakes and the occasional tsunami. You can find out more in the Climate and Weather section of this country guide
When looking for a long-term rental, think about the risks of the property being affected by a natural disaster. These risks can be difficult to predict, but you might want to look out for whether a house is sitting on a hillside where part of the road has had to be rebuilt due to previous landslip. Additionally, a ground floor apartment could be affected by a flood in the area whereas an upstairs apartment won’t be.
It’s important to obtain the right level and range of insurance to protect yourself and your possessions. You don’t want to lose most of your belongings in a hurricane just to find you agreed to a large excess for the sake of a small policy cost saving.
Your landlord is legally required to have buildings insurance, but you might want to ask for proof of this.
Estate Agents In Jamaica
There are a number of realtors or real estate agents on Jamaica, most of whom will list long term rental properties. They have databases of property arriving on the market every day. These people understand the reputations and advantages of neighbourhoods and can explain where the good schools are.
Make sure you visit a property before agreeing to rent it. Don’t be fooled by pretty pictures and a careful sales patter just to arrive and find that the photo of the sea view was taken a street away and the apartment is over a noisy bar.
If you can’t get in to see a property or are asked for money to do so, walk away.
A good estate agent will give you the costs of their services upfront; don’t be afraid to ask if they don’t. If you get as far as signing a lease and are then asked for a payment you didn’t know about, the issue is legally difficult as by then they have provided the services you needed.
Estate agents usually have their own website. Some of these are basic and list extremely cheap properties. However, most meet the same standards of presentation you would expect in the US or UK, with a lot of pictures and information about each property.
Signing A Lease
Are you signing a lease with a partner or friend? Remember that everyone whose signature is on the document is jointly liable for the payment. In other words, if your friend goes home three months later and sends no rent money, the entire cost will fall on you. The landlord will not accept a half payment just because you are the only one left.
Check whether there’s a break clause. If you take out a year-long lease and are called back to the UK because your elderly parent is sick and needs 24-hour care, the law means you are liable to keep paying the rent until the end of the lease. The same applies if you lose your job. However, a break clause will typically allow you to give three months’ notice to end the lease early. Three months of rent money for a property you aren’t living in is better than 10 months or even another year.
The landlord will usually ask for a full month’s rent in advance, plus a security deposit. If you are renting a small, unfurnished one bedroom flat in Jamaica, the security deposit is likely to be only one month. However, for a five-bedroom seafront home with infinity pool, you may be asked for a deposit equal to three months of rent.
By rights, the landlord should return all of your security deposit at the end. To ensure this happens, take the following steps:
● Pay your rent on time
● Take many detailed photos when you move in
● Identify and report all damaged and missing items when you move in
● Take many detailed photos on the day you move out
● Take photographic evidence of returning keys and any other items
Ask Other Expats For Help
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