Cuenca rental compliance officers are working with the provincial judicial council to stop landlords from overcharging for rent.
The city says that there are about 45,000 rental properties in Cuenca.
City councilman Xavier Barrera says that rents have increased dramatically in recent years and believes that Cuenca’s 8,000 foreign residents are partly to blame. “Rents here are cheap compared to where they came from in most cases and they often do not question the amount they are charged,” he said. He added: “Most of them are unaware that there are maximum rates mandated by the government.”
Barrera says the city council is launching a public information campaign to provide information to tenants about the official rules and the amount landlords can legally charge. To identify landlords who are in violation of rent caps, the city is checking newspaper and website classified ads, including those in English, he says.
The city recommends that tenants always sign a lease with the landlord and to understand the rental rate structure, which is based on the assessed value of a property. According to the Cuenca Tenancy Act, rents cannot exceed 10% of the property value. In the case of an apartment or house valued at $40,000, for example, the rent should not exceed $350 per month.
Property values are kept by the Avaluos del Municipio office.
According to the compliance office, the rental rules apply to unfurnished units where the tenant is responsible for utilities and neighborhood or building fees. Furnished rentals, where utilities and fees are included, require a different calculation.
According to Tenancy Judge Maria Eugenia Novillo, there were 570 trials involving rental conflicts from January to November 2015, 36 more than for the same period in 2014.