Rent house or flat in Kingston


Rent regulation

According to law, all properties for rent must be registered with the Rent Assessment Board (Rent Restriction Act). Among other things, this requirement assists the Board to assess that the property is fit for rental and make guidelines for rent rates. The Rent Assessment Board is the statutory authority for regulating affairs between landlord and tenant and has the same power as a resident magistrate court. It is common to find properties for rent that are not registered; check with the Board if in doubt. Here are the contacts for the Rent Assessment Board:

The Rent Assessment Board,
The Towers, 25 Dominica Drive,
Kingston 5
Tel: 926 1590-3 906 176

Rent agreements usually involve monthly payments. Payment for the first month usually requires an additional deposit of up to three months' rent. The payment of the deposit is required before moving in and as a condition for the rent agreement. Not to worry, the deposit is refundable at the end of the term for the agreement. The refund is subject to recovery of cost for repairs or for outstanding bills of the tenant, and which according to the rent agreement, are not cost the landlord covers.

Notices from the landlord to quit must be at least 30 days in advance of the next due date for rent. The court gives the tenant additional time if alternate accommodation cannot be found within the notice time to quite. To get additional time, the tenant must go to the court two weeks ahead of the deadline to quit; otherwise the landlord may use a bailiff to enforce an order to evict.

The Rent Assessment Board regulates affairs including the raising of rent. The law provides for automatic increases of 7.5% per year in the rent. Rental varies within a wide margin in the market.

Rental market

Rent starts at about JMD$25,000 today for a self-contained unfurnished studio apartment, up from about JMD$15,000 in 2010. Using this estimate, the inflation for housing rental in the period would be 33%, compared to 41% for inflation in general for goods and services between June 2010 and 2015. Hence, price escalations in the rental market have been more modest in recent years than for the economy as a whole.

There is no upper limit on rent; rent for studio apartments in the KMA can fetch upwards of USD 2,500 per month. It depends on the locale, demand and the property facilities (e.g., whether or not it is a gated community). Also, be careful when negotiating because the rent will escalate towards the upper margin when it is known that the prospective tenant is an expatriate.

Demand is high around New Kingston - the business centre in St Andrew, such as in the area known as the Golden Triangle. Demand for accommodation is high around Papine where two universities are located - such as Elleston Flats, Liguanea, Mona Commons and Hope Pastures. Rent is higher in suburban areas such as Russel Heights in Kingston 8, St Andrew; and Ironshore in Montego Bay, St James. As with other places in the world, rent decreases in Jamaica the further away you are from the city. Whatever the rent agreed, it should be clearly stated in the contract.

Rent contracts

Rent Contracts should be in writing. This is generally advised as a vital step to protect yourself and ensure that the owners' and your responsibilities as a tenant are met. Contract elements include:

  • Duration of agreement including the notice period that either you or the landlord have to give in order to terminate the agreement.
  • Responsibility for household bills: Some utility services will be included in the rent (e.g. water), while others you may be responsible for paying yourself (e.g. electricity).
  • Forfeiture: If you are deemed to be in breach of your contract you can be evicted from your accommodation. Be sure you understand the dos and don'ts of the contract.
  • Deposit: In almost all rental agreements, the landlord will ask for a deposit. The deposit is used to cover any damages you may cause, along with any outstanding debts you may owe at the end of your tenancy.

To make sure the contract is adhered to and you are not later charged with pre-existing damage, you should do a walk through with the landlord before signing the contract. This is to certify the state of the accommodation and if furnished, do an inventory of the amenities/ possessions. You have a duty to care for the property.

Searching for House to Rent

Unless you are dealing through an agent, getting a place to rent in Jamaica involves attracting the trust of the owner. Regardless of whether you can pay the rent, the owner wants to feel that the tenant will not be a trouble maker. That is, not someone who is rowdy, attracts a hive of suspicious visitors, and who lives with unruly children. Character references are a big deal in Jamaica to the owner when they decide to rent: they rely on knowing somebody who recommends the tenant. These channels are suggested for you to use when searching for a house or flat to rent:

  • Networks: spread the word in the church, teachers at the school, the school principal, local business owners, and so on. Generally, good contacts for leads are people doing people-centred work such as the school principal, the community relations police officer, community workers, or workers at the tax office or post office.
  • Newspaper advertisement: try placing an ad in the newspaper that you are seeking place to rent. Search the classifieds for listings as well.
  • On campus: from time to time, notices of room for rent have been posted on doors of the faculty and on noticeboards of faculty offices. Watch out for them.
  • Workplace noticeboards: from time to time, notices of room for rent have been posted on these noticeboards and around the ‘watercooler'. Watch out for them.
  • Online search engines including , Jamaica Real Estate, Coldwell Banker and Jamaica Real Estate Guide

As you would expect, buying real estate is a bit more involved and a lot more formal than rentals.

Update 13/02/2016


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