Cuba Opens Home, Office and Commercial Rental Market

Progreso Weekly

A Havana private restaurant (paladar).  Photo: Juan Suarez
A Havana private restaurant (paladar). Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — Cuban citizens may now turn to real estate agencies (both state and approved private) to rent buildings as dwellings or offices, commercial establishments and storage sites, the daily Juventud Rebelde reported on Wednesday.

Until now, the state-run agencies could rent spaces only to foreign and state-run companies and to foreigners living in Cuba, not to ordinary citizens.

Resolution No. 551-2013 by the Ministry of Finance and Prices has established minimum monthly rental fees in convertible pesos (CUC) per square meter of living space, Juventud Rebelde says.

There are restrictions. Buildings may not be rented for use as diplomatic sites (embassies or consulates), international schools, news agencies or nongovernmental organizations, the newspaper says.

But the rented buildings may be used as private dwellings, offices, commercial establishments and storage sites. The buildings may have been originally designed as private homes or not.

According to Juventud Rebelde, the new measure “provides new impetus and support for self-employed entrepreneurship and other forms of non-state management.”

“Cuban entrepreneurs now can ‘base’ their economic initiatives […] in sites and buildings to which they had no previous access, and thus enter new segments of the market.”

Minimum rental fee for a dwelling will be 5 CUC per square meter; for commercial use, 7 CUC. One CUC is the equivalent of one U.S. dollar.

But that rate is applicable only if the building was originally designed as a private home. If the building was erected as a commercial structure, the fee will be 10 CUC per square yard per month.

Rental fees above the minimum will be agreed upon by the contracting parties, depending on location, comfort, accessibility and other market considerations. Among those considerations: whether the building has a swimming pool, parking space or areas for public access. Also if the building has “patrimonial” or historic value.

The rental fees do not include water, electricity, telephone, gas, sewage and Internet facilities, all of which must be contracted with each provider.

The new resolution also permits foreigners living in Cuba to rent out their property to Cuban citizens by availing themselves of the state-run real estate agencies. For this service, the agencies may charge a minimum commission of 5 percent over the rental fee.

For further details, interested parties may consult Extraordinary Issue No. 6 of the Official Gazette, published Jan. 21, which spells out Resolution No. 551-2013.

9 thoughts on “Cuba Opens Home, Office and Commercial Rental Market

  • Agent Moses, I am surprised to learn that you have dined with the Castros seeing as you are an agent of a foreign power and all.

  • I know all I need to know about the embargo to tell you that the Castros eat Argentinian beef, drink French wine, wear Rolex watches and have access to every stolen US-patented product the Chinese are willing to give them. It is not my fault they don’t choose to share with their fellow Cubans. How’s that for ‘fessing up”?

  • Agent Moses, I am well aware of all the burdens the embargo places on the Cuban people and it is apparent to me that you don’t want to fess up to the truth by denying that it has a huge impact on their economy. May bee you had better do a little more research on this subject.

  • That’s why it is called an embargo, genius. Cuba’s inability to buy spare parts is largely due to the fact Cuba lacks the hard currency to pay cash for the parts and the creditworthiness to borrow money at less than usurious rates. As most Cubans agree, the self-imposed internal embargo has done far more harm than the external US embargo to the Cuban economy.

  • Agent Moses, look in your files directives and notes, you well know that the US gov. uses heavy fines to keep companies with branches in foreign countries from dealing with Cuba and has done so often. It also will not allow banks with branches in the US to carry on money transactions with Cuba. They will not allow ships that have been to Cuba in the US for 6 months. They have Chinese buses that were bought not too long ago with Cummins engines in them and can’t buy parts from anyone to repair the engines because of the blockade. They recently fined a Washington state company for indirectly obtaining scrap metal through a third party that wound up in the US. O my god, contaminated Cuban scrap metal in the US. I wonder if it has a kind of red sheen on it?

  • Ah yes, entrepreneurs influencing the government.. That’s worked out really well in the rest of the world, particularly the country which still clings to the embargo despite overwhelming international resistance at the UN and otherwise.

  • Do you really believe that Cuba could not obtain any piece of medical equipment that exists in the United States from a third country.? Do you think that Canada does not have that equipment? China? Brazil? Do you believe that the CIMEQ medical facility in Havana where Chavez was treated lacks medical equipment? Would you consider the real reason Cuba lacks certain medical equipment in any particular hospital is more likely for financial reasons. The NGOs you listed do not conduct their own studies with independent researchers given unrestrained access to Cuban records and facilities. Instead they rely on data and rationale supplied to them by a self-serving totalitarian regime. It is easier to blame the embargo for all that ills Cuba than it is to accept that low productivity due to low wages that has left the Castros with a trade imbalance and a lack of hard currency to purchase and import needed machines. The former socialist Soviet bloc similarly suffered and ultimately collapsed. Using the embargo is just an excuse.

  • Well, you argued easy with your support of the embargo. But this has also an ethical dimension, because the embargo prevents the import of crucial medical equipment and for this has direct implications on the quality of medical services, and, in last consequence on live or die.

    Amnesty International says:
    “The WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA and other UN agencies reported on the negative impact of the embargo on the health and wellbeing of Cubans and in particular on marginalized groups. In 2012, Cuba’s health care authority and UN agencies did not have access to medical equipment, medicines and laboratory materials produced under US patents.” (Source: )

    Here’s an older study of the American Asociacion on World Health about the topic:

  • This comment is directed at the Johns, Dans, Walters, and other hard-core Castro cheerleaders who frequently comment here at HT but I would hope casual HT readers will also gain insight. It is often argued that since the embargo has failed to trigger its original aim of regime change, it should be immediately lifted. This most recent reform, like many others, is a DIRECT result of the economic pressure brought about by the embargo. Only the most naïve armchair Bolshevik will believe that after hours of pouring through the Communist Manifesto did Raul come away with this particular idea of reforming the moribund Cuban economy as means of “perfecting socialism” in Cuba. This is yet another step AWAY from the traditional “socialist” model. Allowing a private building owner to rent space in a building that the owner likely did not purchase himself and is not currently using in an income-generating capacity, only makes a ‘property-rich’ owner even richer. This reform benefits the ‘landed class’ while extracting money from the worker class who will, in turn, have to earn a higher salary or charge higher prices, in order to pay the rent. In the mindset of socialists this ultimately hurts the poor while enriching the already well-off building owner. Even as a dyed-in-the-wool capitalist, I understand the exploitation potential here. There is no way Raul gave the green light to this reform except by the force of a failed socialist policy whose weaknesses are exposed by the US embargo. Why do I support the embargo? Because it is working to unravel, bit by bit, the inane policies of the failed Castro revolution. How long until private schools and private hospitals are authorized? Once this class of petit bourgeoisie business owners grows to a tipping point where they are able to ‘influence’ government policy from within, we will see a host of unimagined reforms being announced more rapidly. In order to protect the newly gotten wealth, this new class of Cubans will begin to demand political rights as well. It is only a matter of time.

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