Costa Rica Condominium Dwellers Ignore The Rules Because They Aren’t Used To Them.

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The Law Stipulates:

  1. Regulations apply to any buildings constructed on a single site and with different owners.
  2. Each apartment implies an autonomous unit for independent use and enjoyment.
  3. Common areas belong to all the condominium owners.
  4. No owner can be refused acceptable use of common areas.
  5. The common areas can be rented by any owner with prior agreement of the condominium residents’ association.
  6. All owners are responsible for meeting the maintenance expenses for common areas. The costs might vary according to need.

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What are the complications to living in a condominium? In truth, not many, as long as you, as a condo owner, are aware of your legal responsibilities and rights should you opt for this kind of property.

To make the rules of the game quite clear: the 1999 Condominium Law (No.7933) decreed a series of obligations and restrictions that differ from those pertaining to traditional housing.

To make sure these obligations and limitations are enforced, the law demands a residents’ association be set up to meet on a regular basis and keep a book of minutes.

When the future owner signs the deeds, the condominium is obliged to provide him with the book of minutes.

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“It must be made clear to the buyer that an apartment is very different from what was traditionally thought of as being their house. Certain rules must be followed and there are limitations in place to ensure neighborly coexistence,” affirmed Marcela Padilla of the Promotora Concasa legal department. Concasa is currently developing the Campo Real condo in San Rafael de Alajuela.

According to Padilla, “the problem is that many people just do not know about these rules because they are used to living in a different kind of property”.

Uri Lipszyc, manager of the Brisas del Oeste project agrees. He emphasizes the importance of brokers advising their clients and that clients, in turn, do all the necessary research on each property.

Unlike living in a residential community or having an independent house, people living in condominiums are subject to different restrictions such as limited areas for pets and cleaning up after them to volume level limits for listening to music at certain times.

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However, the residents can make changes as long as they are approved by the association.

Although the condominium is a construction on a single site, the apartments belong to each owner. The interior units can be repaired or altered but any modification to the external façade or structural changes is prohibited.

In this kind of housing development, the neighbors reach an agreement on the use and benefit of common areas such as streets, parks, parking areas, elevators, lobbies and swimming pools.

For Padilla, this is the most contentious point for those buying a tower-block apartment.

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“Many people don’t realize they must pay the infamous maintenance fees for common areas, which can vary according to the number of apartments and owners,” she explains.

Uri Lipszyc believes that society is currently going through a transition of getting used to living in these kind of developments. “People are used to living independently and establishing their own rules for getting on with the neighbors. Anyone choosing to live in a condo apartment must be tolerant and aware of the regulations so as to coexist successfully.”

However, for those consulted who live in this kind of property it is an excellent option because of the security and lower purchase price.

Our thanks to our friends at La Nacion – Costa Rica’s largest Spanish circulation newspaper for their permission to use their article in English.

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