The Guide to Condominium Ownership in Costa Rica:…
Renting in Costa Rica: Locating and Securing the Perfect Property
Renting in Costa Rica: A Guide to Finding and Securing the Right Property
Renting a property can be a daunting experience, especially in a foreign country where you are unfamiliar with the laws and regulations. In Costa Rica, the good news is that the law better protects tenants than in many other countries. However, some landlords may still try to circumvent the law, so it’s essential to understand your rights as a tenant. In this guide, we will explore some critical advice to help you when renting a property in Costa Rica.
Translated rental agreements
Understanding the lease agreement thoroughly is one of the most critical steps in securing a rental property. Ask the landlord for a translated copy if you don’t speak Spanish or enough Spanish to understand a lengthy and complex rental agreement. The translated copy should be identical to the original document in Spanish. Suppose you have any doubts about the restated agreement. In that case, you can ask a bilingual lawyer to assess both documents to ensure that the Spanish version does not have stringent rules or penalty clauses that favor the landlord.
In Costa Rica, there are fixed rents, but there is also scope for negotiation with private landlords. Suppose the advertised rate is c200,000 per month with utilities separate. In that case, you can ask if one or all of the utilities can be included in the asking price or whether an equivalent amount can reduce the monthly rent without including utilities. Some landlords are amenable to this negotiating as they are keen to have their property earning money rather than sitting dormant.
Any rent increase should be set out in the contract. In any case, the rent increase in any one year cannot exceed 15% by law if the rent is in colones. However, a revision instituted in 2016 lowered this percentage, creating a complicated formula to calculate the annual increase based on inflation indexes published monthly by the Ministry of Housing.
Alternatively, the landlord may not increase your rent if the rent is paid in a foreign currency, such as US dollars. Something worth considering! The rent is always due within seven days of the first day of the month. If this is exceeded by one day, the landlord will have the right to begin eviction proceedings, although this is extremely unlikely.
Suppose you intend to rent an apartment in a condominium. In that case, it’s crucial to establish who is responsible for paying the Homeowner’s (HOA) Fee, which is used to maintain the upkeep of the property. If it is the tenant, find out whether the rent includes them or whether this is an additional payment.
Like in many other countries, you must pay a deposit when renting a property in Costa Rica, usually the equivalent of a month’s rent. The deposit will cover outstanding rent payments or other debts of the tenant. They can be freely agreed upon between the parties. Some landlords may even let you pay the deposit in installments over your first few months of living in the property.
Establishing clear communication
Communication is vital to a successful landlord-tenant relationship. Suppose you encounter any problems with the property or the landlord. In that case, addressing them as soon as possible is essential. Ensure that the lease agreement includes provisions for resolving disputes and outlines the steps to be taken by both parties in case of any issues.
Renting a place in Costa Rica can be a great way to enjoy the country without paying for a home. You can have a smooth and enjoyable tenancy if you know the rules and laws, negotiate with your landlord, and talk to them clearly. Remember to read your lease agreement thoroughly, including any translations, before signing, and if in doubt, seek legal advice.
-Co-written by Johanna Alvarez (Immigration expert) and Glenn Tellier (Founder of CRIE and Grupo Gap).
Frequently Asked Questions
Does the law regulate rental agreements in Costa Rica?
Yes, rental agreements in Costa Rica are regulated by Law 7527, also known as the Ley General de Arrendamientos Urbanos y Suburbanos. This law covers all lease or renting agreements related to houses and apartments.
Should I get a translated rental agreement if I don’t speak Spanish?
Yes, asking for a translated copy of the rental agreement is highly recommended if you don’t speak Spanish or are not proficient enough to understand a lengthy and complex document. The translated document should be identical to the original Spanish version.
Can I negotiate rent with private landlords in Costa Rica?
Yes, there is often room for negotiation with private landlords in Costa Rica. You can ask if utilities can be included in the asking price or if the rent can be reduced without utilities. Some landlords may be willing to negotiate to keep their property occupied and earn money.
Is there a limit to rent increases in Costa Rica?
Yes, by law, the rent increase in any one year cannot exceed 15% if the rent is in colones. However, a revision instituted in 2016 lowered this percentage, creating a complicated formula to calculate the annual increase based on inflation indexes published monthly by the Ministry of Housing.
Can landlords increase rent if paid in a foreign currency like US dollars?
No, the landlord may not increase the rent if the rent is paid in a foreign currency like US dollars.
What is the due date for rent payment in Costa Rica?
The rent is always due within seven days of the first day of the month.
What happens if I miss a rent payment?
After one day of late rent payment in Costa Rica, the landlord may start eviction procedures. Landlords are unlikely to do this unless there are more substantial reasons to evict a tenant.
Who is responsible for paying the Homeowner’s (HOA) Fee in a condominium rental?
Let’s say you are a renter in a condo. In that case, it’s essential to figure out who is responsible for paying the Homeowner’s Association (HOA) Fee, which is used to keep the property in good shape. Find out if they are part of the rent or if there is an extra charge.
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