Whether you are an expat interested in investing in the City of Eternal Spring for the first time, an experienced real estate investor or just a new homeowner, you’ve come to the right place. After the excitement of buying a property here, there are some important considerations.
In 2019 we published our article: “8 Things Everyone Should Know About Buying Property in Medellín, Colombia”, to help hundreds of people in their real estate adventure in this city. At the time we did not know that it would go on to become one of the most viewed articles on our site month after month. It has become a useful guide for many people. Later in 2022 we launched the video on our YouTube Channel. However, we’ve received many questions and comments for helping after the property acquisition process. This article will tell you all about what you need to do AFTER buying a property in the City of Eternal Spring.
There are duties and obligations that you must fulfill as a property owner. That’s why, in this article. We’ll talk about things you’ll have to do frequently as a new landlord.
(1) Administración (Administration expenses - HOA)
One of the most significant fixed expenses involved in owning a property here is the payment of la administracion. These are monthly dues to the apartment or housing complex where you live. These are common, whetherr it is a house, apartment, closed-complex finca or vacation property. According to Law 675 of 2001 Horizontal Property, these payments are mandatory, not optional.
Condominiums in Colombia are properties located in buildings or closed neighborhoods, whose main characteristic is the shared use of common areas that are available to all persons living in the same place. In practice, the builders register before the Public Registry authorities the real estate projects, from which the individual units to be sold are derived and subsequently, upon completion of the project. A co-owners‘ assembly is constituted, which appoints a board of directors, composed of an administrator and a commissioner for the operational functioning.
How Much Money do I Have to Pay in Gastos de Administración?
The specific answer is not unanimous since it will depend on what the administration of your building or development establishes. This is an important consideration in deciding which property to buy. The administration fees are calculated according to the percentage of participation that each unit has within the residential complex and may vary according to the size in square meters, as well as if the co-owner has additional a storage closet or parking spaces. Based on this, the proportion with which each owner will contribute to the common expenses of the building or community is defined. The Administration fees must be paid month to month even if you do not live in the property as long as you are the owner.
ARTICLE 29 of Law 65 of 2001. Participation in the necessary common expenses. The owners of the private properties of a building or complex shall be obliged to contribute to the payment of the necessary expenses occasioned by the administration and provision of the common services indispensable for the existence, security and conservation of the common properties, in accordance with the horizontal property regulations.
Example: Suppose there is a building of twenty levels, where there are 6 apartments per floor. 120 apartments in total. Thus, the so-called contribution of each apartment to the common expenses is 0.83% (assuming they are the same size).
However, it is not common for all co-owners to pay the same administration fee. Since, as is to be expected, there are units that are larger. Because they have more bedrooms or have private terraces, which increases the cost of the fee to be paid monthly depending on the case.
How do I Know How Much in Gastos de Administración I Should Pay?
The answer is simple, when you purchase your home, make sure you receive all the information and documentation from the seller. You can ask the seller how much they pay – but you should also ask to see a copy of the previous month’s administration statement.
In order to legally transfer the property into your name, the seller will need to have provided the notary a Paz y Salvo document that shows that all Administration expenses are paid and up to date.
If the administration bill seems unusually high some month, it may be because they have added a cuota extraordinaria to the bill. This occurs when there is a large shared common payment, such as a new roof, a new elevator, or some other major project which needs to be financed by the administration outside of regular HOA payments. Usually these will be approved after a vote of property owners during an annual meeting or special meeting. If approved, these payments are obligatory, whether or not you agree with or will benefit from the project.
As for the increases of administration fees, these are not usually made arbitrarily and generally consider the official inflation published each year by the Bank of the Republic. That is to say, the Consumer Price Index and the increase of the legal minimum wage in force. However, there is no clear limit in the law, other than common sense and good administration. Recently, the Colombian national government decreed a 16% increase in the legal minimum wage in force for 2023. It is estimated that this will have an impact on the increase in the administration fees paid monthly by all owners for the administration and maintenance of condominiums.
What Happens If I do not Pay The Administration Fees?
If for some personal reason you decide not to pay your property management fees, you will have to pay interest on late payments, fines of up to double the amount owed, as well as face a number of inconveniences, ranging from having your name posted in a place visible to other property owners, which most people find inconvenient or embarrassing. You could even be sued to force you to pay. Additionally, the administration could restrict your right to use and enjoy common areas such as common rooms, recreational and sports areas as a pressure mechanism. Also, in some extreme cases of delinquency, they may suspend some services such as water, energy and gas, being a real torture for you to make the respective payment. However, this last sanction can be deemed as unconstitutional.
Some Real Examples of Payment of Gastos de Administración
Although it is not possible to calculate the amount of the gastos de administración that you must assume for being the owner of a property in Medellín, since this depends on the particular characteristics of the building or residential complex where you buy, the following are some examples to give you an idea of what is common.
Analysis of the examples presented:
Property #1 located in the El Campestre sector, with a value of 945 million pesos. Although it has the highest cost per square meter, the annualized administration fee is only 0.88% of the sales price. This seems quite reasonable.
Property #2, located in Vizcaya, with an average price of 884 million, has higher annualized management fees, representing a percentage of 1.63% of value. However, the property is huge in size, at 358 square meters, so the average cost per square meter is incredibly cheap in the area.
Property #3, which is worth 500 million in Laureles, has the cheapest monthly administration cost. However, when compared on an annualized basis, it represents a percentage of 1.02%. Very similar to the previous example, despite being a lower strata area.
How will the Admin know you've bought the place?
Typically upon the sale of a property, the administration payment for the month in which the sale occurs will be prorated between buyer and seller. For example, if you take possession and do deed transfer on October 15, the seller is liable for the first half of October admin, while you as the buyer are liable for the second half. These payments can be divided during the deed transfer process in the notary. Next, you should ask the seller to send a letter to the administration of the building that states that they’ve sold the property to you and contains your name and contact information. While some administrations may want to see proof (as in the deed) generally a simple letter or email is enough.
(2) Become Familiar with the R.P.H. of your new building
Owners have rights and obligations, one of which is to know and comply with the Horizontal Property Regulations (called RPH) of the building where they live or own. Alongside this document, there is also often a Manual de Convivencia. Between these documents, the rules for living in the building are outlined in extremely extensive detail (often they can be dozens or even hundreds of pages long). Having problems with a neighbor? Chances are the rules and procedures for how to deal with it are outlined in these documents.
The Horizontal Property Regulation is elaborated within the framework of the Law, while the Coexistence Manual is elaborated to comply with the internal rules of a community of owners.
When acquiring a property in Medellín you should request these documents from the seller – especially if you are interested in, for example, the rules surrounding renting your apartment to others.
(3) Updating and Paying the Utilities
As you can imagine when you buy a property in Medellín you must have the public services of electricity, water, gas, cable television and internet. If the property you bought is used, it is very likely that it already has all these services. In this case you must update the ownership of the contracts into your name.
We must warn that the channels of attention of many companies and institutions in Colombia are honestly not the most expeditious now, especially if Spanish is not your strong point. Therefore, if you are going to make any service request, you will have to arm yourself with patience and courage in almost any procedure.
It is very common that you have to call many times, or write several emails or messages, until finally someone gives you an answer or a solution to some problem.
However, after overcoming all these difficulties, you will find that the friendliness of Colombians is genuine. In fact, Colombian law establishes the Derecho de Petición as an effective means to process all kinds of requests, complaints, claims and suggestions to authorities and companies, this right is established in Article 23 of the Constitution and is widely developed by jurisprudence. Therefore, when filing a complaint, it is a duty for the entity to provide a formal response within a period not exceeding 15-30 days. In Colombia there is also the Superintendencia de Servicios Públicos Domiciliarios, which ensures that these companies provide good customer service. In the event of irregularities, you can appeal to them directly, and this authority often imposes heavy fines for mistreatment of customers.
Next, we will guide you through the contact information of the companies that provide public services in Medellin and with which you will most likely have a relationship.
Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM): This company is a true monopoly and the most important business consortium of public utilities. It has operations in other cities in Colombia and even in countries such as Chile, Guatemala, El Salvador, Spain, the United States, Mexico and Panamá. It is a source of pride for the people of Medellín. It includes in a single invoice the services of water, electricity, domestic gas, and sewage.
Requirements to update the contract data:
Copy of the utility bill.
Copy of the property deed.
Copy of citizenship card (foreigner’s card or passport in the case of expatriates).
This request can be made in person at any EPM customer service office. The company currently has 10 offices in the metropolitan area of Medellín. Additionally, the company has virtual channels through the following telephone lines: +57 604 44 44 115, +57 01 8000 415 115. WhatsApp: +57 302 300 0115. In some cases the response may be issued immediately or within a maximum period of 15 working days.
TIGO: It is the leading telecommunications company with coverage in most of the city of Medellín. It offers cable television, internet, and local and mobile telephone services.
Change of ownership procedure: The procedure can be carried out online at the web site.
It is necessary to fill in the applicant’s personal data and attach the following documents:
- Identity document of the current customer scanned at 150%.
- Identity card of the new customer scanned at 150% (foreigner’s card or passport in the case of expatriates),
- Certificate of freedom and tradition in force (title deed).
Service channels: 01 8000 41 11 11, #503. They have the following telephone number for sales in Medellín: 604 4310275, as well as 11 offices in the city. The response time is fifteen working days.
Note: Foreigners without a credit history in Colombia will have difficulty getting internet set up in their name with Tigo, Claro or Movistar. It is common to have to ask a Colombian friend for the favor of getting internet set up.
CLARO: Offers cable television, internet and local and mobile telephony services. This provider is currently dominant in mobile services, while in home services TIGO is the one with the greatest market share.
In case of first time installation: If the purchased home will require CLARO services for the first time, you must request the installation and wait for the visit of the company’s technical personnel.
Requirements to contract for the first time:
- Copy of the property deed.
- Copy of citizenship card (foreigner’s card or passport in case of expatriates),
- Fill out the service request form and sign it.
Service channels: If you have a Claro mobile line call *611 or if you are a home customer call #400 to resolve doubts and receive personalized attention. WhatsApp: +57 311 2000000. Email: email@example.com. . It also has a wide network of offices throughout the city, in addition to an online store for self-management.
Movistar: Offers cable TV, internet, and local and mobile telephone services. However, like CLARO, its strength is mobile telephone services and in home services it is just getting started..
Service channels: Telephone line Sales: 01 8000 911 008/Attention 01 8000 930 930, web page and WhatsApp. Additionally Movistar has three offices in Medellín.
(4) Change of Locks and Security Systems
Logically, if you have recently acquired a property, you should change the locks and security systems promptly to avoid any incidents. It is best not to “dar papaya” and have an adequate security system for your new property. You should not forget that for most locals, any expatriate is simply a gringo millionaire; this issue can sometimes attract the attention of people with dishonest intentions.
In Medellin there is a wide variety of companies that offer this service in a particular way. So you just have to choose the budget and the alternative that suits you best to do it. Here are some of the most recognized providers on the internet:
933 Asistencia: Company located at Calle 33 # 74E 90 Office 601, Medellín. It offers assistance services to attend home emergencies in locksmith and electricity. This company offers a three (3) month warranty on its services. Contact telephone: +57 301 6546602. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: 933asistencia.com/cerrajeroya
Mundi Llaves: Company located at Calle 44 # 44-64 San Juan. They offer all types of locksmith services and installation of home security systems. Contact telephone: +57 321 8191515. E-mail: email@example.com. Website: mundillaves.com.co/
Blinda Max: Company located at Carrera 52 # 7 – 81, Avenida Guayabal. Services areas include the manufacture and installation of security doors. Telephone: +57 314 244 84 41. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website:puertasblindamax.com
Digital Llaves: They are specialists in security locks and biometric locks. Contact telephone numbers: +57 601 4444-280. Mobile: +57 316 462-0787. Website: santafemedellin.com/marca/digital-llaves-stand
(5) Remodeling, Minor Repairs, and Cleaning Services
Whether you have purchased a new project or a used property, it is normal that you will have to hire remodeling, maintenance or repair services in the purchased property. This will allow you to enjoy proper conditions all the time. Some investors may prefer to buy new projects, because they are generally delivered ready to be used. Others, on the other hand, prefer to pay less for an older property and enjoy the process of leaving it perfect for occupancy.
It is often difficult to find companies that provide all the services you need to hire while you decorate your property and even after. Here are a few examples of companies that may be useful for you.
Colombiarepair: Recognized company located at Carrera 36#10-49 Barrio el Poblado in Medellín, offers services of reforms, remodeling, and home repairs. Contact telephone numbers: +57 301 210 9451. E-mail: email@example.com. Web Site: https://www.colombiarepair.com/
Reformas Integrales: It has a wide range of services for renovation or remodeling projects. It is located at Carrera 52 # 1 – 73 | Apt 302. Contact telephone: (+57) 321 610 33 00. Website: https://reformasintegrales.com.co/
Alcuadrado Arquitectura: Architecture firm. Cellular: 320 494 97 85 / 305 235 14 86. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: https://www.alcuadrado.co/
Remodelados: Remodeling company. +57 314 7724046. E-mail: email@example.com. Website: https://remodelados.co/
(6) Payment of Impuesto Predial (Property taxes)
The impuesto predial unificado is a recurring cost that you will have to pay to the government when you buy a property in Colombia, according to Law 44 of 1990. The periodicity of this real estate tax is quarterly. The taxable base will depend on the cadastral valuation, which is the registered value of the property. (Note that this will often be less than the commercial value of the property). The higher the value of your property, the more you will have to pay.
In the metropolitan area of Medellin there are legally ten different municipalities. Therefore, it is important that you first know in which municipality your property is located and registered, so you can know the amount to be paid for this concept and make it in the municipality that corresponds to you.
What Type of Property Must Pay the Impuesto Predial?
In general, all types of real estate, from lots, houses, apartments, buildings, parking lots and warehouses, commercial premises, factories and warehouses, financial establishments, etc.
Some Examples of Predial Payments For A Rough Idea
Predicting the exact value of your Predial is a fool’s errand as there seems to be a lack of consistency in calculating from the municipalities and it depends on many factors, among them: cadastral value, strata, location of the property and size. We will present some examples based on real cases, with values for 2022 (from the same properties as the administration examples, above).
Some interesting facts about these examples:
Property #1 which has a value of 945 million Colombian pesos. Located in an exclusive area of El Poblado. The owner pays property tax in the amount of COP 6,100,000 (Approximately 1,270 USD at the average exchange rate of 4,800-1), this amount represents only a percentage of 0.65% of the value of the property.
Property #2 priced at COP 884 million pesos. Also located in the neighborhood of El Poblado. It paid a similar amount of COP 6,800,000 (Approximately $1,416 USDP). This payment represents only 0.77% of the value of the property.
Property #3, with a value of COP 500 million and located in Laureles. 2022 Property taxes were a total of tax of COP 2,900,000, which would be only $604 USD at the average exchange rate of 4800:1). This is a percentage of 0.58% of the value of the property.
Compared to what expats might be used to in their home countries, property taxes are generally quite inexpensive in Medellin and surrounding areas.
Each year this tax usually increases slightly, depending on the cadastral update set by the local government, as well as the increase in the inflation level. At the end of November 2022, cumulative inflation in Colombia in 2022 was 12.5%, according to official figures. Economic analysts point out that Colombia’s high inflation is due to a global phenomenon originated by the crisis of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as well as the increase of commodities prices and the deceleration of the United States and European Union economies.
How Can I Find out How Much My Annual Impuesto Predial Bill is?
In Medellín, you can download your tax bill directly from the Mayor’s Office website. First you must register in an online form. Then, with your numero de matricula, you will be able to know the exact amount to be paid and the installments for each quarter. Along with the web access, typically the paper property tax bill will arrive to the property at the start of the year.
In 2022 the Mayor’s Office of Medellin established the following schedule or deadlines for payment of property tax as follows:
First quarter (5% discount): Before March 29th.
Second qurter: Deadline until June 28
Third quarter: September 28th
Fourth quarter: December 28th
In Medellín you can save up to 5% of the property tax by making the annual payment. This is highly recommended, since you avoid later complications and pay in advance throughout the year.
What Happens If I Don't Pay The Impuesto Predial on Time?
If you do not pay your property tax on time, you will pay much more since the collection generates moratory interests. In Colombia moratory interests are usually quite high, exceeding 39%. Additionally, if you do not pay, the government may initiate fines or administrative sanctions by the competent authorities. Therefore, non-payment of property taxes is not a wise decision.
(1) Administracion – Get the seller to send a letter to the Administracion, introducing you as the new owner. Get in touch and keep a cordial relationship with them as they wield a lot of influence.
(2) Check your RPH and Manual de Convivencia to learn about the rules of your building. You can get these from the Administracion. They are often long and boring to read – but important!
(3) Utilities – Patience is key! Nothing is slick and easy regarding these. EPM will arrive to your door and must be paid. Internet – (usually TIGO or Claro)– must be set up or transferred. Colombian friend may be necessary if you have no credit history.
(4) Change the locks – especially if you don’t trust the seller or anyone else who might’ve had access to the place.
(5) Having contacts for remodeling, repairs, painting, and cleaning are important. Contact us if you’d like the phone # of reliable workers in any of these areas.
(6) Property Taxes (called Pre-Dial here) – the bill will arrive to the property. You can pay the entire bill for the year. You can access it online if you set up an account with the City of Medellin.
Questions, comments? Contact me today and I will be happy to discuss any of these issues further with you.