We were ripped off for $500.00 by Mayan Lake Realty when I gave Rene, the partner, a cash deposit the afternoon before I hoped to rent a house through them in Panajachel. He agreed that the money would be refunded if my husband did not want to rent the house after speaking to him that evening when my husband came home from work. I called Rene first thing in the morning to say that no, we weren't going to sign the lease for the house since there were far too many stairs and I am partially disabled. We expected to find another house through them as agreed.
Rene had SPENT OUR DEPOSIT MONEY the night before, and did not have it to return it to us. Despite my having a signed receipt stating the deposit was refundable," Francesca (the other partner) refused to return our deposit stating I had "not given them enough notice."
This was outrageous. They are not licensed real estate agents and have stolen money from many people around the lake. The locals and expats who live there know to watch out for them as Mayan Lake Realty pays the owners an agreed-upon amount for rent and gouges the tourists for whatever they can get. The newcomers are non the wiser until they have lived there for some time, and find out how much less the owners had agreed to rent the houses for.
I even tried to take Mayan Lake Realty to court for the return of my "refundable deposit," but they do not list a real physical address anywhere in their advertisements. Without an address, they cannot be served to appear in court.
It is very important that people know to beware of people like these, who fleece newcomers to the area as no one knows any better until it is too late. I am filing a complaint with Century 21 in the U.S. as their behavior is beyond the pale. They would never get a license and be looking at jail time for their fraudulent actions if they were working in the U.S. As a licensed realtor myself for many years, I am horrified as to what they get away with in Guatemala where licensing and complaint resolutions are lax to non-existent.
Other people have been ripped off by them when Rene or Francesca have added pararaphs to agreements that were never there when people signed, or when these "agents" convince people to pay in advance in CASH so there is no record of payments being made (and no taxes / income to report) and no recourse when they take off with your money.
I'm glad that one person had a good experience with this outfit, but I can assure you it is because it was short-term and they didn't know they were being fleeced. I am writing this review to let others be forewarned and find someone else to deal with!
Contact me for more information anytime. I will also give you the name of my lawyer who knows these people very well and can write an agreement that will protect you, the tenant, from them. I should have done this from the very beginning, but they are so "friendly" you would never guess that you are about to get fleeced.
BEWARE. There are many properties for rent on the Facebook pages for Panajachel and Lake Atitlan. Avoid rip-off artists at all costs.