More to do than just lying on the beach
Renting a Property in Agadir
by JL Farmer
This article deals with the structure of property rental. Property details are in related Links at end of this page
Agadir is a cheaper place to rent than other cities in Morocco, especially if you speak some Arabic or Tashelhait (Berber) and/or know some of the local people quite well. Rent should not cost more than around 3500 dirhams in most areas for a one bed, or no more than 4500 to 5500 dirhams for a 2 bed apartment. We're talking unfurnished prices here - and not the Marina or a villa in the mountains with a spectacular panorama. Add around 1000 to 1500 dirhams and up for a furnished apartment. Plus fixtures and fittings deposit of one or two months deposit.
There are nice places to rent here - and a lot of them are relatively inexpensive, compared to city prices in Europe. There is no need to buy a property if you don't want to. Since the global financial downturn in 2008/9 the rental prices in Agadir have become cheaper. Back in 2006 we wanted to rent a modest type place in Agadir. What property owners were then asking 8,000 to 10,000 dirhams a month can now be had for 3000 to 5000 dirhams a month.
Friendly Advice: Take your time and don't rush into anything. Go back at least twice to view an apartment, at different times of the day, so that you can see how much natural light the property receives and you can also evaluate if the apartment is in a noisy location. Light and noise are two important considerations when choosing an apartment and it's better to find out before you move in, than to find out later and maybe have to go through the expense and hassle of finding an alternative place to live, in the event that you find yourself to be unhappy in your new home. Maybe take a clip-board along when you go to view a place and then you can make notes and diagrams of the room sizes, number of power points, things that need doing and general comments that you might like to make. Discreetly marking up a clipboard will impress the person who is showing you the property as they will see that you are a serious person. This is also a very handy thing to do if you have a partner with whom to discuss the particulars of the property later on at your own leisure; as trying to remember "what was what" later on can sometimes be remarkably difficult. Renting versus Buying
There are several benefits of renting property in Morocco, as opposed to buying. One has no big financial outlay and can keep their money in their own country, invest in a good account and live off the monthly interest (when good interest rates come back.) Another benefit is that if things go awry, you get ill or just want to leave Morocco, you can just buy a flight ticket, pack your bags and go to the airport. You can't do this so easily if you own property in Morocco due to the unknown time element of how long it will take for you to sell the property - if you manage to succeed in selling it at all.
As for the tenants who don't pay the rent for years and are eventually evicted? The day that the property owner has the eviction notice in their possession is the day that the owner, an officer from the Tribunal, a policeman and a locksmith arrive at the property and throw the people out there and then without allowing them to take any contents of value with them. The Tribunal officer then makes a list of the furniture and contents, which are then sold at auction, and the proceeds given to the property owner as part recuperation for the outstanding years of unpaid rent money (which can be up to two or three hundred thousand dirhams) minus an admin fee.
Try Furnished Now - Rent Unfurnished Later: What a Good Idea
Using a Property Real Estate Bureau (French: Immobilier) to find a Rental Property
If you use an agent from a lettings office, maybe take a friend along with you to view a property, who might be able to occasionally complain about any negative aspects, as a distraction for the agent (and which might lower the rent amount) - after all, their primary concern is their commission and they get that by convincing you that you have found the right place. Best to overall be your own judge in this matter, and not be swayed by all of the talking-up that the agent will most certainly do, as they are experts in their work. It's not only Moroccan property agents that do this - it's ALL PROPERTY AGENTS, EVERYWHERE. And they are very experienced in the art of persuasion...
Using the Local Grapevine to find a Rental Property
I personally would not consider to use a lettings agency. I have rented six properties in Morocco since year 2000 (three furnished and three unfurnished) and have always found on each occasion that the best way to find a place to rent is to use the local grapevine. Maybe go up to the L'étoile d'Agadir restaurant on the Talborjt square around 8 to 9pm and speak with Hassan, the waiter. He tends to know what is available to rent on the local scenes of Talborjt, Charaf and Les Amicales - the three closest regions - or he can keep a watch-out for you, if you give him your name and phone number. If Hassan succeeds in helping you, then do pay him a finder's fee (maybe 300 dirhams for furnished, 1000 dirhams for an unfurnished property.)
Er, WHAT is a "Simsa"?
A "simsa" is someone who is either formally or informally employed by the property owner to find a tenant for their property, for which the owner AND the new tenant pays the simsa a "finder's fee" - so the "simsa" is making money on both ends of the transaction: from the property owner and also from you, as the new tenant. If you accept an apartment to rent via the "grapevine", it is standard practice to pay a "Simsa" (key-man) fee to the person who found the property for you.
Simsa Fee on Furnished Property Rental
If the property is a furnished property, you will be unlikely to be offered a rental contract and will only receive receipts for the actual rent that you pay. In this case, 200-300 dirhams would be enough to pay the Simsa. (Also good to be aware that you cannot apply for a Resident's Card if you are renting a furnished property.)
Simsa Fee on Unfurnished Property Rental
In the event that you sign a Contract of Tenancy (French: contract de location) for an UNFURNISHED property - the payment to the Simsa should be made ONLY AFTER you have the signed contract between yourself and the property owner (or legal agent) and have the contract in your possession, which most likely would be on the morning of the next government working day (Monday to Friday) after accepting the property, so don't be hesitant to refuse payment to the Simsa until you have the signed contract in your possession, even if you come under pressure to pay. Arrange with him to meet you at a public location where you know people, such as a busy café, after you have the contract. I would suggest a payment of one thousand dirhams, which is indeed very fair as you will not be paying hefty agency fees as well as the fact that an unfurnished property is regarded as being of medium to long term rental duration.
Disputed Simsa Fee
Some "simsas" may ask you for 2000 dirhams (or even more) for helping you to find an unfurnished property, so if you don't know the "simsa" it might be best to negotiate this fee in advance. I personally would not bother to negotiate in advance should the simsa not bring-up the subject of his fee beforehand and he succeeds in helping me to find a suitable place to live. I would speak to him afterwards and say that I would like to give him a gift for helping me, and offer him 1000 dirhams. If he says it's not enough I would tell him that it's all I can afford. If he would still argue and dispute the 1000 dirhams I would put the money back in my purse, give him nothing at all and walk away. After all, at this late point, the amount that you give him is arbitrary on your part, as you made no express prior financial agreement with the person. Yep, welcome to Morocco. This is how money ticks here. The least possible pay-out, albeit given in a gracious and friendly manner.
Property agencies may charge you the equivalent of up to two months rent as commission for securing a long-term unfurnished rental contract, so 1000 dirhams is quite minimal, by comparison - yet quite a substantial amount for a little work done by a (generally unregistered) Simsa.
Difference Between a 3 Year Contract and a 1 Year Contract on Unfurnished Property
If you still like Agadir after maybe renting a furnished apartment for a while, you might then consider to rent an unfurnished property and have a three year rental contract. Bear in mind that a one year contract for an unfurnished property does exist but does not have the same security of tenure of a three year contract.
Advise the person making the contract that you want to have a three year contract. On no account accept a one year contract - (the person making the contract will usually suggest this, as they always did with us - on three separate occasions - but there was no problem in each instance with obtaining a three year contract on each unfurnished property.) In the unlikely event that the owner refuses to give you a three year contract, maybe gently tell them that you do not want to spend a lot of money buying furniture for a rental contract of only one year, in case you may not find a suitable unfurnished property afterwards. Then pause for a moment to give him time to reply and if he says nothing, maybe smile, say "shukran" and walk slowly towards the exit door. It will then be very likely that he will change his mind, call you back and give you the three year contract. Again, smile and say "shukran." And if he doesn't call you back, then there's nothing lost and everything gained - because you won't be taking the potential risk of being stuck with a lot of purchased furniture at the end of a one year contract.
If a prospective tenant signs a one year contract, they will not have the same security of tenure that an unfurnished tenant has because the owner has the right to terminate a one year contract - or increase the rent as they choose - two months before the one year contract expires. One common reason that an owner may give for terminating a one year contract is that a son or daughter is getting married and needs the property to live in. This may, or not, be true, but it means that you will have to leave the property, regardless, as the owner is not required by law to validate a reason for giving notice to quit a property that is on a one year contract.
Here Comes the Good Part...
With a three year rental contract the tenant has security of tenure. They can live in the property for the rest of their lives. Literally. There is a special clause in a three year contract that says "automatically renewal" (in French) and the "three years" is written in solely as a time in the tenancy requirement, whereas in actual fact it is a permanent tenancy. This three year contract is loaded in the tenant's favour - which makes a refreshing change to what we are used to in Europe. The owner cannot make the tenant leave the property but the tenant has the right to leave, without financial penalty, any time they like. Property owners know this and go forward with a three year contract because they want to have a permanent, rent-paying tenant that they can rely on for future income. From the tenant's point of view - it is absolutely brilliant to know that we can go to Europe during the summer months, or whenever, and have the peace of mind of knowing that our home will still be there for us when we return to Morocco. Bliss.
In a nut shell - the owner can never put the tenant out on a three year rental contract - as long as:
The rent is paid every month within 15 days of it falling due and
The tenant does not engage in or is convicted of any criminal activity on the premises. Enough to say, the police will put the tenant out, if such is the case.
Tip 1: If the rent is paid with a Moroccan bank cheque in dirhams the debits will show on bank statements, in addition to the tenant having the normal actual receipt from the landlord showing that the rent has been paid. If the landlord says they want cash for the rent, maybe tell them that it is necessary for you to make rent payments in a banking manner (reader can fill in the blanks on this one... ;-)
Tip 2: If it can be financially afforded, the rent can be paid in advance every three or four months. Doing so will ensure that the rent is paid, in case something unexpected happens which causes a delay in paying the rent within the fifteen days permitted by law (such as an unforeseen delay in returning from an overseas trip, due to illness, legal issues, lack of funds etc.)
After Making the Contract
>When you have made the rental contract with the owner, you then go together to the local government office (Arabic: Walaya, French: Arrondissement Urbain) to sign the contract in front of the officials and have it legalised. The Walaya in Talbort is the building on the corner of Rue Changuit, opposite the entrance to the Jardim d'Olhao, on Avenue Président Kennedy.
After signing the contract and having your copy of it, you can then go ahead and sign up for the electricity and water supplies and buy your own furniture. This usually means that you will be unable to move into your new place for at least another few days as there will be no electricity or water. That's OK, there's no panic; take your time, sign up for the utilities and choose your new furniture wisely.
Paying a Deposit on a Rental Property
It is usual practice for the property owner or agency representative to ask for the equivalent of two months rent as a deposit, in addition to the first month's rent. If you are a western expatriate, it is usually possible to quite easily negotiate the deposit down to one month's rent equivalent - and if the owner knows you through a mutual Moroccan friend, they may likely not ask you for any deposit at all, in the event that the property is unfurnished and their security is standing there in front of them, bearing your likeness ;-)
Note: Make sure that you get a signed receipt for all deposit and rent money at the time when you pay it. If the person concerned does not have a receipt book with them, then politely ask them when they will have their receipt book and make a further appointment to pay them at such time. Do not, under any circumstances, hand any money over without a proper receipt. Moroccans don't do it and neither need we.
I made the mistake of doing this in year 2000 in the medina of Tangier. The owner concerned spoke good English. When he came with his receipt book (about a week later - he said it was somewhere up at his sister's house) he claimed that all the money I had paid was only deposit money and that I still had to pay him the actual rent money. He said that he did not understand English very well and that I had also misunderstood what he had said (claiming that he had said two months deposit, not one month.) I told him that I had known him for over two weeks, met his wife and children, spent two Friday afternoons eating couscous in his home, visited his sister's house in the Ville Nouvelle and had quite a few extensive conversations with him in English and now I wanted my correct receipt for all of the money I had paid - as mutually agreed. I did not get angry with him, but spoke with him quite firmly and to the point so that he was left with no misunderstanding as to what would happen next if he did not give me the correct receipt for my money. He went out into the street and upstairs to his house and returned with the correct receipt within ten minutes. Who needs a TV when you get this much drama in real-life? Not me for sure.
Rent Increases in Morocco
Under Moroccan law, an owner can legally raise the rent by a maximum of 10% every three years. There used to be a nine year ceiling on this, but the law was changed a few years ago and so now it's a maximum 10% rent increase every three years, indefinitely. A clever friend of mine, who is a maths genius, reckons that it would take 22 years for the rent to double, irrespective of the rental amount. Rental increase is an option that the landlord may or may not enforce, but most of them will ask for the increase when the time comes around. But if they ask for more than 10% increase every three years, the tenant has the legal right to refuse to pay the excess over and above the 10% and still maintain their rental contract without having to leave the property. If that happens, just politely refuse to pay the excess rental increase and wait for them to come back with a reasonable reply. Always stay cool. Never get flustered. Keep control of the conversation.
Someone once asked me if that's what I would do and if so, how could I live there knowing that the owner would not be happy with me for not paying over the 10% excess. My answer is that I would not be too bothered if the owner was happy with me or not - it would be my home and I would stay put. I would of course, discuss this point with the landlord, in a friendly manner, to attempt to address the legal maximum of 10% rent increase, but I don't let things like this prey on my mind, I just get on with my life. Happily, this scenario is hypothetical and we have a great relationship with the owner of our property and they are good landlords who take an interest in their property and will fix anything structurally if anything goes wrong (rain leaks in winter, redecoration of any communal areas, et al.)
Concerning Repairs and Tenants' Liability of an Unfurnished Property
Landlords of unfurnished property will only fix structural problems, like roofs, broken walls, external drainage etc and decoration of internal shared areas, such as hallways and stairwells. The tenant is responsible for interior plumbing, electricity and all repairs inside of an unfurnished property.
Some people get into the habit of calling the landlord for every petty little thing. Best not to do it. The landlord will grow tired of you and may begin to dislike you and one of the last things that we need is an unpleasant relationship with the landlord. And if that does becomes the case, and you have to leave, you might find it difficult to rent somewhere else in the future because they all know each other and they might put the word out that you were a difficult tenant, which could then hinder your attempts to find another rental property and if that happens, they also most likely won't be willing to give you a reference and a new landlord will want to know why, and on and on it goes. Who needs TV? Life is already one big Soap lol
Paying Advance Rent on an Annual Basis
Consider paying less frequently than every month? We travel a lot and so choose to pay the rent every three months or so, in advance. There is no obligation for us to do this, but it suits our lifestyle by doing so, and we only get to see the landlord three or four times a year instead of twelve. Some people actually succeed in negotiating a lower monthly rent by offering to pay the rent annually, in advance. It's worth a thought. You might even be able to negotiate 500 dirhams, or more, a month less rent, if you pay it annually, in advance. If the landlord refuses your annual payment offer in return for a lower rent, but you are planning to take the letting anyway, be sure to tell them in advance - and right away - that you retract your offer of annual rent payment and will pay monthly. If you don't do this, they most likely will still be expecting the annual rent payment that you offered, even though they refused you a rent discount. Yep indeed, everyone to their own advantage.
We once offered an annual rent payment on a large rental property in Agadir back in 2006 in return for a lower rent, but the owner told us that they didn't agree with a lower rent and said that they didn't care if we paid the rent every month or every year so we immediately told them, "OK then, since you don't agree to a lower rent, we retract our offer of an annual rent payment." I don't think they liked that very much, but hey, we can't all have our cake and eat it, eh ;-) I was actually surprised, as I can't think of too many Moroccan landlords who would turn down more than 50k cash dirhams in one move. Such is the life.
Some owners don't raise the rent at all. Ours didn't increase the rent after three years, at first, but they then did, after second thoughts, six months later. We know a Spanish guy who has a huge 4 bed ancient Spanish built apartment in Tangier in the centre of town and pays 700 dirhams a month, which never increases, because he has an ancient contract. He's lived in it for almost 40 years. He's a Tangerois - a Spanish native of Tangier. Born and bred there.
Leaving the Property and Refund of Deposits
Do bear in mind that you might not get a refund of any future rent or deposit paid on any property should you decide to leave, so it's worth thinking about this in advance, in case you may decide to leave the property at some point in the future. If the landlord refuses to give you all or some of your deposit money back on the day that you leave, what are you going to do about it? Bear in mind that your tenancy has ended on that day and your legal entitlement to occupation of the property has ended, so you cannot refuse to leave the property because if you do, the owner may call the police (and maybe a bunch of family relatives) and they'll put you out. As I often say, it's dead money, unless...
The best thing to do in the given scenario of your imminent departure from the property is to give notice to quit and tell the landlord that you want to off-set your deposit against the last month/s rent - and invite them to visit the property so that they will be assured that you are leaving the property in a good condition. If you have had a pleasant relationship with the owner, there is a every chance that they will agree to your action of off-setting the last month/s rent against your deposit - especially if you have made improvements during your tenure (and make sure to mention those improvements by name.) It's usually only the actual action of handing money back to the tenant that some landlords dislike. And if the landlord absolutely disagrees with you off-setting the deposit against the last month/s rent? Then tell him that you will be doing it anyway (as it is not usually written in the contract in Morocco that this action is forbidden) and ask them to come over at 12 noon on the day of departure, to pick up the keys. You will not be breaking the law by doing this and you will ensure that you get the full value of your deposit. The following paragraph is a true story that happened to us in February 2004...
We had rented a furnished apartment in Tangier and gave the landlord notice of our intended departure. His son told us that he would come over to check the property and make notes on what money he might need to be deducting from our deposit amount. We asked him why he would think that he would need to deduct any money at all - especially given the fact that we had made some improvements to the property - nothing major, but nice, mostly decorating. He said NO - so we said NO too. At that point, his father came into the room and father and son had a discussion in Arabic. The father asked us if we would like to stay for another month to offset the deposit, a proposal to which we agreed. We weren't in a hurry and had the time to stay the extra month. The son was angry - and hardly spoke to us again after that. We told him to come at 12 noon on the day we were leaving to pick up the keys. He hassled us by phone calls for the few days before we were leaving, telling us that he had some Spanish people who wanted to move into our apartment immediately. We told him that his business with future tenants was not our concern or business and that we already had an arrangement with his father and that we would stick with that agreement and asked him not to contact us again. Steady does it. Never be intimidated - it's only conversation and the stronger party will always win the argument. Always. No dead money for us, not ever. Ha! It turned out that we heard a couple of months later, that the son had installed a hidden web-cam in the lounge of the apartment and had been monitoring the Spanish people via his internet business downstairs. Of course, the web-cam was discovered, which is how we got to hear about it. Unbelievable - but true! The story went all around the expatriate community in Tangier - causing much hilarity in café society!
A lot of tourists don't know about rental laws in Morocco and jump right in at the deep end and buy a property, instead of renting first. Doing so always gives time to repent at leisure. As you can imagine, property agencies don't like prospective property buyers knowing these things ;-) But I don't care about that lol lol lol
I hope this info helps and thank you for reading; please feel free to send an email.
Agadir, November 2009