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Understanding Squatter Rights in Costa Rica
Understanding Squatter Rights and Public Domain in Costa Rica’s Maritime Terrestrial Zone
The acquisition of real estate in Costa Rica can be made in various ways, such as purchasing, inheriting, or donating. Still, there is also a process known as “usucapion,” which allows squatters to acquire rights under specific circumstances. In this article, we will explore understanding squatter rights and inalienable property in the public domain, especially in the case of the maritime terrestrial zone.
The Public Domain in Costa Rica
In Costa Rican Civil Law, the “public domain” refers to goods or properties that serve a given community’s interests. These properties are designated for public use and are inalienable, meaning they cannot be sold or seized. Furthermore, these properties are imprescriptible, meaning the State does not lose them over time. Squatters cannot acquire such properties through usucapion.
Maritime Terrestrial Zone
A significant part of the maritime, terrestrial zone in Costa Rica is classified as a public domain. The zone is a 200-meter strip, starting from where the sea touches land during high tide. The first 50 meters of the strip are deemed the “public zone” and are used for public activities, such as recreation. The remaining 150 meters are the “restricted zone,” and this zone is susceptible to appropriation through concessions.
The municipalities are responsible for regulating the restricted zone and issuing concessions to individuals to use this land. However, there have been instances where municipalities have allowed private individuals to establish their regulatory plans over the area, leading to environmental degradation. This zone holds high ecological value and is home to many species of flora and fauna.
Can Squatters Attempt to Acquire Land in the Zone?
Although the public domain in the maritime and terrestrial zone is not as strict as in other areas, there are special rules and exceptions. Squatters can attempt to acquire land in this zone but only use it through a concession. This means they cannot own the land, and the municipality can remove their permission to use the land if it goes against the public interest.
Understanding squatter rights and inalienable property in the public domain, particularly in the maritime, terrestrial zone, is crucial for those planning to invest in Costa Rican real estate. The laws in this area are constantly changing, and consulting with an experienced attorney is essential to avoid legal issues. The maritime terrestrial zone in Costa Rica is an area of great ecological value, and its preservation should be a priority.
-Co-written by Johanna Alvarez (Immigration expert) and Glenn Tellier (Founder of CRIE and Grupo Gap).
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the public domain in Costa Rica?
In Costa Rican Civil Law, the public domain refers to properties or goods designated for public use that serve the community’s interests.
Can squatters acquire properties in the public domain through usucapion?
No, squatters cannot acquire properties in the public domain through usucapion.
What is the maritime terrestrial zone in Costa Rica?
The maritime, terrestrial zone is a 200-meter strip that starts from where the sea touches the land during high tide.
What is the public zone in the maritime terrestrial zone?
The public zone is the first 50 meters of the maritime terrestrial zone that is designated for public activities such as recreation.
What is the restricted zone in the maritime terrestrial zone?
The restricted zone is the remaining 150 meters of the maritime terrestrial zone that is susceptible to appropriation through concessions.
Who regulates the restricted zone in the maritime terrestrial zone?
Municipalities are responsible for regulating the restricted zone in the maritime terrestrial zone.
Can squatters own land in the restricted zone of the maritime terrestrial zone?
No, squatters can only use land in the restricted zone through a concession and cannot own the land.
Why is it important to preserve the maritime terrestrial zone in Costa Rica?
The maritime, terrestrial zone holds high ecological value and is home to a variety of flora and fauna, making its preservation essential.
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