Over the last few years in Ecuador, it has become more and more commonplace for owners to ask tenants to pay deposits before renting. But KNOW THIS before you fork over your dough!
In Ecuador, like in most developing countries, even though “in theory” you’re supposed to get your deposit back at the end of your rent… few ever do! Consider that money gone, and yourself lucky if you ever get it back.
Why? Well, you have to understand how people live in poor countries like Ecuador…usually “day to day” and in survival mode. From my experience, even the countries “rich” lack liquidity or have extra cash on hand because they’re way of saving is putting their money into real estate or businesses “so they don’t spend it”.
We must have compassion, people in the US have A LOT more options for their savings like 401Ks, mutual funds and the stock market than people in Ecuador/Latin America.
So the honest truth is, most people lack liquity, and spend your deposit once you give it to them. And when it comes due back to you, they simply don’t have it to give, and will find some lame reason not to give it back!
So even though you may have signed a contract, most know that it is unlikely you will go to the trouble of a lawsuit in the Ecuadorian legal system to recover it (although you can resort to this if you wish).
So, how can you avoid this situation?
Avoid it by shopping around a bit. Most in Ecuador will ask a deposit equal to two months rent, but many will only ask for one equal to one month’s rent and a few won’t ask for a deposit.
Usually you can negotiate directly with the property owner and if they like you, will go lower and allow you to stay for a reduced deposit. Be sure to state your reasoning and that you’ve had troubles getting your $ back in the past.
What’s worked for me, especially for shorter term rents (4 months or less) is I negotiate directly with the owner to see if I can pay a slightly higher rent in exchange for not paying a deposit…
For stays only a few weeks long, I wouldn’t even bother trying to rent and I’d stay in a vacation rental (like one you’d find in vrbo.com) or if you have a tighter budget in one of the many cheap hotels ($10-15/night or less) readily available in Ecuador (but not usually visible on the Internet). Most are quite clean and even comfortable. One good site to find some is hostelbookers.com. Still, if I am planning a vacation I prefer to go to Manuel Antonio, as this place offers the best family fun in Costa Rica.
Remember, there are many good people in Ecuador, and that generally people in other Latin American countries are NO BETTER about giving deposits back than Ecuador. But I’ve been hit by this both in Ecuador and in other countries and just wanted to be sure you aren’t!
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