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Renting Property

Panama - Renting Property


The laws on renting property in Panama are quite geared towards the landlords, although rents can be negotiated between the tenant and the landlord. The rental agreement for any residential property can include details of rental increases which can be applied in the future. On the other hand, rents that are no higher than $150 per month can only be increased if the landlord has written permission from the Ministry of Housing. The request must be assessed on the grounds of the fairness of the rent and the return that the landlord should expect. Exempt from this are rural properties which are located in the Canal Zone, rental of any holiday properties where tenants live for fewer than 6 months, and any properties that are managed or administered by an official body.

Those who wish to rent property in Panama should expect to pay a security deposit at the same amount as one month’s rent. This deposit is passed by the landlord to the Ministry of Housing and is returned when the rental agreement comes to an end, unless the landlord is making a claim on the monies for rent that is owed by the tenant or to cover any damage that has been occurred while the tenant was there. There are not any usual restrictions on the length of rental agreement. This is usually agreed between the landlord and tenant prior to signing the agreement. The contract is not binding with regard to the length of contract, as the tenant can terminate the agreement with a notice period of one month.

Tenants can be evicted in case of not paying the rent, but there is also a minimum period of time which passes while the legal procedures can take place. This includes the service of process, the trial and the enforcement, and this can add up to 120 days. In order to evict a tenant the landlord must be prepared to go to court, as the notice to evict must be enforced by the Corregidor, the highest legal authority of each region. Landlords who want to evict tenants for not paying the rent may find that due to the workload of the courts the process can even take several months.

Most people who rent property in Panama usually find a home through an estate agent. The estate agent acts on behalf of both the tenant and the landlord and a standard lease agreement gives the tenant a minimum of three years in the property in case that neither party wishes to terminate the agreement earlier. Some rental agreements can be even made for a period as long as 20 years. Some early terminations may bring penalties for the tenant, but any penalties are already stipulated in the contract. Rentals of less than a year are likely to cost the tenant more in rent and deposit.

Rent increases are not usually more than 5% per year, with an average of around 3% being the norm. All rents are payable monthly in advance.

Tenants can find both furnished and unfurnished properties. Furnished usually means that a property has some basic furniture such as a bed, wardrobe, living room furniture and kitchen appliances such as fridge. Extras such as a television are not usually included, although some landlords may provide kitchen utensils. Unfurnished means that a property has no furniture and occasionally no kitchen appliances, so the tenant is expected to provide their own. Unfurnished also means that carpets and curtains are provided by the landlord but this can still vary. The tenancy agreement stipulates all the items which are to be included.

As with all countries, property rental prices vary depending on the area and facilities. In cities, good quality apartments that have 2 or more bedrooms, secure parking and have basic appliances can cost from around $600 per month. Apartment buildings that have communal gyms or swimming pools will charge a lot more and depending upon the area can be $2000 or more. Beach front property can be $3000 or more, while houses with gardens are $1500 or more depending on the area. Houses in poorer areas can be found for less than $500 per month, but the facilities available are usually very basic.

Property types

As Panama has been experiencing a kind of property boom in recent years, it is a good time to invest in a home there. Prices of all types of property are low when compared with similar properties in the United Kingdom and the United States.

New builds and homes being bought off-plan are particularly popular at the moment among expats. This is because they can get a brand new home that needs no repairs. When it comes to the larger developments they can expect fellow expats to be their neighbours. In areas such as Panama City, new builds and off plan are mainly apartments, although there are some developments of detached houses as well. Areas such as Punta Pacifica and Marbella have large numbers of condo buildings and apartments for sale too. Suburban areas, such as Albrook, Altos de Curundu and Amador, are the places to go if looking for single family homes.

New build properties offer a number of benefits. Many of them come with fully fitted kitchens including appliances so the tenants do not have to buy fridges and cookers. Tenants can also decide how they want the property to be decorated.

Resale homes can also be bought for a good price, particularly if an expat has the resources to do a little renovation work. The older part of Panama City has a large number of homes which are undergoing redevelopment so expats can easily find a period property for a bargain price. These are popular with those who do not have a great deal of money to spend.

Outside Panama City expats can buy properties close to the beach in towns such as Punta Chame and Farillon, or look for mountain property at El Valle or Altos del Maria. Villa properties close to the beach are particularly popular with those who are moving to Panama to retire.


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