This does not not necessarily apply to renting short term. Short term is generally defined as less than 3-6 months. Long term is generally defined as more than 3-6 months
with most people agreeing 6 months or more is long term. If you are renting short term it is good to use an international vacation rental service like homeaway.com or preferably airbnb.comwhere there is a well established record of rentals and a reputation the owner or manager of the property wants to protect. You may find long term rentals there but the deals are normally found on the ground and it is wise to check out any place you are committing to for months at a time in person if possible.
NOTE: We have recently added an article about renting from Airbnb in the Tropics and Caribbean you can find it here.
Additional NOTE: We came to the Dominican Rental looking for long term rentals. We booked 2 weeks through Airbnb then used that time to find a six month lease.
High Season in the Tropics
Tropical High Season is December 1 to the end of Easter Week. This is when most of the rental business occurs. Prices are higher and rentals are fewer. If you are booking long term near the beginning of High Season you will have much less leverage than if you were booking at the end. But don’t be discouraged if your are coming at the best time. Be patient you will find something at a price you are comfortable with.
It is best to plan for not receiving your deposit back on long term contracts. Most rental agents/owners are going to try to rip you off on your deposit at the end of your lease. The common scam is to charge first and last months rent plus a security deposit. EVERYTHING is negotiable. Always be nice and respectful and be ready to walk away. Insist on paying only first and last months rent or some smaller deposit you dont mind losing. Some will turn you away some will not. In my experience most will not.
Here is who gets what
Generally speaking it works like this. A property manager gets a 10% cut. The marketer gets a 10% cut and the owner gets the rest. Of course any one person can be all three and so on. If there is a 20% pay out they are more likely to try to get that extra deposit out of you to cover the commissions up front.
There are frequent power outages in the Dominican republic. If backup power is important to you ask about it. Many backup systems can not run Air Conditioning but can run fans. If you are there in the high season fans should be sufficient to keep you cool. In the Dominican republic summer some people will prefer to have Air Conditioning available at all times. Your host cannot predict the future but they can give you an idea of how often the power might go out. In Santo Domingo for example there are areas where it is shut off at certain times of the day every day in summer. In many areas power outages are around 3 hours a week. Chances are you will not be affected but it is worth considering.
Wifi in the tropical Dominican Republic
The internet is generally not great in the Dominican Republic but some areas have quality connections. Some are more reliable than others. Speak with your host ahead of time. One key question to ask your host if its important to you is whether or not you can stream video from the wifi. If they can stream video consistently this is a high quality connection. It is possible for you to purchase alternative internet access there as well Your host may be able to point you in the right direction. Remember in general high quality internet connections are not standard in the Dominican Republic. We find it refreshing to be off the grid.
Dominicans and Foreigners
If you are visiting you are a Foreigner or Gringo in the eyes of most Dominicans. Dominicans are wonderful beautiful people but I personally would be very guarded renting from a Dominican. Many Dominicans see the world differently from tourists and they tend to have a relaxed attitude towards service. There are great Dominican hosts too. This is where again a history of rentals and reviews are so useful to the traveler.
You are a Foreigner, Gringo or Outsider in the eyes of most Dominicans
and people from other countries do not have a great track record of treating the Dominicans well. They know you probably wont be around long and they know how incredibly slow the justice system is. They can wait you out while they sit on your money. You are a target. No matter how rich or poor you are in your country, you are rich in the eyes of most Dominicans.
Rental Unit Services in the Dominican Republic
Some people prefer to have services like cable, internet and electricity in their own name. But if you don’t speak Spanish this can be a hassle. It is not unusual for a landlord or manager to let your cable or internet service lapse. In those cases if all else fails I personally go ahead and pay the bill myself (where possible) and deduct it from the rent. Always get a receipt for everything. I present the adjusted rent payment with a copy of the receipt. Always save every receipt. Not having a receipt is a great excuse for someone to try to rip you off in the Dominican Republic.
Leases in the Dominican Republic
The lease must be in Spanish with a copy in English if that is your language. Get electronic copies. Translate the Spanish copy yourself and have someone you trust if possible translate it as well. Often lessors will try to fill your lease with points (legal or not) that favor them. Every lease I ever signed was subject to change and I personally changed added and removed items. Take your time. Don’t be in a rush. Ask around and make some friends in the small ex pat communities. I prefer a simple one page lease. Long complex leases make me suspicious and are not necessary.
Law and the legal process in the Dominican Republic
is painfully slow. Dont ever expect to sue someone successfully. If you think lawyers in your country are crooks (you are probably right) you aint seen nothing yet. Dominican Lawyers tend to be shockingly corrupt. They make American lawyers look angelic. There are a few reasonably honest Dominican Lawyers. Consider having one look your lease over if you can find one. We know one or two that are reasonable and English speaking.
The way I have presented this seems scary. If everyone is constantly trying to game you why would you want to be there? Well its a third world country. People are poor. Many of them see you as literally their next meal and they will do whatever they can to get it. But
you are staying near the blue waters of the Caribbean for small money and the people are amazingly helpful and kind.
I have so many stories of times when the Dominicans helped me out when a vehicle broke down or an emergency happened I cant count them. They are a truly beautiful people. It sounds paradoxical. Welcome to the Dominican Republic!
Be Kind/Calm/Assertive in the Dominican Republic
I am an American. The best comparison I can give you is to the American Indian. They are so similar to the Dominicans. They are proud and kind. Be kind. Don’t be nice. Be kind and calm and assertive. Its a fine line. Calm and assertive is the way to be. Be decisive. Dont tell a Dominican maybe. Be kind, calm and assertive.
Be responsible for yourself in the Dominican Republic
Anything that is important to you especially your own safety is your responsibility. You have enormous freedom here and enormous responsibility if it is very important to you never rely on someone else or supervise it carefully in every minute detail.
Someone must be watching your place
There has got to be a watchman. The best situation is a walled compound with other foreigners living there. You must have someone watching your place and you are NEVER obligated and should avoid inviting people you dont know to your place.
Never pay ahead in the Dominican Republic
Never never never pay ahead for anything in the Dominican Republic. Pay after you have it. In this case pay for your rental when you are inside the unit and about to move in with the keys in your hand or your payment is held by an international reputable vacation rental company. Ask questions. Take your time. Anyone who would rush you is suspect.