Buenos Aires Apartment Rip Offs

I’m good at arguing in spanish and especially in Argentina. They love to get angry in Buenos Aires and I’m always calling them out on it. It doesn’t make the situation any better but it makes it better for me. Even when the situation doesn’t involve me, I seem to get involved. Once a guy hit the bell for the bus to stop one too many times and he got yelled at. I told the bus driver to chill out, be quite, and pay attention to driving. He wasn’t too happy about that. But unfortunately, I learned that this is what you need to do to survive in this city. You need be aggressive sometimes or they’ll run all over you.

Round 1

Two years ago I visited Buenos Aires and lived there for 4 months. I got an apartment in Recoleta for a decent price and gave them my deposit of $630USD as well. It’s one of the richest neighborhoods of Buenos Aires. I was happy about its location and the apartment itself was okay. It wasn’t fancy but it had everything I wanted.

Literately a week or so before I left, a pipe broke. I found out because my landlord called me that the neighbors below called that there was water leaking into their apartment. The water leaked from below the bathroom sink. A small tiny hole that continued to leak water throughout the entire day while I was out. As you can imagine, this flooded the entire apartment.

My first apartment in Buenos Aires. 13th floor view of Recoleta.
My first apartment in Buenos Aires. 13th floor view of Recoleta.

The landlord wasn’t too happy about it. There was nothing I could have possibly done to create that hole. I cleaned up the disaster for hours. The water flooded the bedroom and living room but those rooms had wooden floors. As the water dried up, the wood started to rise. It created uneven floors. I told my landlord and they said they’ll look at it later. Well check-out time came and I was about to leave for Salta. The landlord came and checked out the apartment. The uneven floors and water leaking from the bathroom made her angry. They never once since the event came to check out the apartment. She said she’ll give the deposit to my uncle who lives in the city and didn’t say anything else. I thought everything was okay.

Weeks followed and I never heard anything about my deposit. Apparently they were blaming me for the leak and the floor. They had to pay for an entire new floor and repairs that leaked down into the other persons apartment. I thought to myself, how would it ever be possible that I would cause a leak in the bathroom sink? I use it to brush my teeth and wash my hands, that’s it. I continued to try to call but they simply ignored me. I lost my deposit and gave up.

Round 2

Fast forward to now. We just finished having an apartment for 3 months in Buenos Aires that we found online located in the city center. Prices went up dramatically since two years ago but as normal, we put in our deposit. Only $500 for the deposit this time but nearly double the rent. We paid the deposit via PayPal but the rent in cash. We had a few issues with the apartment in the beginning like the chair and BBQ being broken before we even checked in and the place being a bit dirty but we went with it anyway. We had done all of our negotiations with someone hired by the landlord to take care of it all. We hardly ever spoke with Nora, our landlord.

Once we had a huge flood in the entire apartment because there was a hole in the window which caused water to come in when it rained. Having learned from my last experience, I must called a million times to both Nora and the other guy. Neither of them paid any attention to me. I stopped caring. If they wanted their apartment ruined, I’m okay with that because I tried calling them about their water leak. Nora continued to ignore us of any other issues we had with the apartment.

Second apartment.
Second apartment.

Check out time came and Nora came by to inspect the apartment. We were leaving to a new city that day so we had to catch a bus after. Nora told us everything looked good and that she’ll walk us down. Having learned from my last experience, I told her I just wanted to make sure the deposit is processed before I left since I won’t be coming back anytime soon. Her mood changed fast. She continued to look around the apartment but now more angrily. She starts to complain about ridiculous things. We did the best that we could to clean the entire apartment. We swept, mopped, and scrubbed, for hours just to make sure everything was perfect and exactly the way it was before. Apparently, it wasn’t perfect enough.

She started to examine things in more detail. Her first complain was that the couch had stains on it. Next it was that the bottom shelve of the oven was dirty, a part that we never used. She called the guy she hired that has our deposit and started to claim that the entire apartment was dirty. She said it in a way that made it sound devastating. It was apparently so bad that she would have to hire a maid to clean everything and also send the couch for cleaning. Throughout the entire experience, she only complained about two things being dirty but still only said the whole apartment was dirty.

At this point, I was furious. Every time I called her about her apartment flooding or a chair being broken, she didn’t care. All of a sudden she cares about her apartment? My theory is that because she knew I wasn’t going to leave until I had my deposit money, she was going to find things to complain about. Here’s why…

January and February are the hottest months in Buenos Aires. It’s unbearably hot. We had the air conditioner on for those days because it’s difficult to function or sleep in that kind of heat. We never left it on while we went out. It was only on while we were at home. Electricity has become expensive in Buenos Aires though. According to the contract, all utilities is covered by the landlord. Technically no matter how high the utilities bills were, it was to be covered by the landlord. It didn’t matter, she wanted to charge me more for the electricity usage. She knew I’d argue about the contract so she never mentioned it, only the guy she hired did. If I were her, I’d put a limit on the contract of how much could be spent and anything over would be paid by the person renting. That’d make sense to me. Instead, she charged me more by finding things wrong with the apartment so she can make up for the electricity bill she didn’t expect to pay so much for. What did she think, that I wasn’t going to put on the air conditioner during the summer months?

I continued to argue with her in spanish. She concluded that she’d have to get a cleaning lady and the cost would be $40USD. I tried fighting it but I didn’t care in the end. In the long run, it’s easier to just pay than continue this. $40USD is about 200 pesos. I put the 200 pesos on the table and said here’s the money. She wanted it in dollars though. This was my breaking point. Luckily the guy she hired (whom we had to keep calling because he wasn’t there) broke it up and told Nora to calm down and he’ll give her the dollars and take the pesos. That finished the argument and we waited until the guy sent us our refund via PayPal before we left.

The bedroom
The bedroom

The lesson

If we had left the apartment without waiting for the deposit to transfer, she could have made up any number she wanted to and charged us way more than $40USD. She could have claimed anything and possibly taken our entire deposit. Luckily because of my past experience, we waited until we got our deposit back before we left. She knew I wasn’t stupid.

Now you might be thinking this could to happen to anyone in any city and that’s true but to be honest, Buenos Aires has a reputation for this. The Travel China talks about her experience as well. I’ve heard similar stories about other foreigners that came to Buenos Aires and rented an apartment. Even my own father that was born and raised in this city has had numerous issues with renting apartments whenever he visits.

In the three years that I’ve been traveling, I’ve never had an issue with any apartment I’ve ever rented, hostel, or hotel stay. The two times that there has ever been a complain was in Buenos Aires.

Is it the economy that’s driving people to steal money from others? Is there more emphasis to the present rather than the future?

Have you ever had an issue with renting a long-term apartment in Buenos Aires?

Michael Tieso

Michael Tieso travels around the world writing, photographing, and filming his adventures. He is the Editor-in-chief of Art of Adventuring.
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