Costa Rica Rental Laws – Being informed will help prevent legal conflicts.
It does not really matter if you are the landlord or the tenant. To rent a property can be a headache for any body who does not know the legal procedures that rule this commercial process.
Leases many times brings problems if both parts do not know how to deal with the daily situations such as maintenance, payment of utilities and the way to finish a rent contract.
The law contains rights and duties that the landlord and tenant must fulfill. In the article number 8 the Chamber talks of the importance to have a legal contract.
Costa Rica Rental Contract:
- The minimum term of a lease agreement in Costa Rica is three years, explained Bernardino Bravo, President of the Chamber of Real Estate Tenants.
- An extension of time can be given if the landlord does not give a notification to the tenant three months prior notice.
- Many times, due to the lack of knowledge of the tenants, some important aspects are omitted in the contracts. This can eventually cause legal conflicts.
- Therefore, a lease contract must include a description of the house or apartment, price of the monthly rent, purpose of the property (commercial use or private living).
- The landlord can include some rules about having pets, or the amount of people permitted to live on the property.
Real Estate Improvements To The Rental Property:
Fixing up the property is one of the issues between landlords and tenants. It is important that you draw up the contract correctly and establish who is going to make and finance the repairs of the place.
If you are interested in avoiding conflicts and confusions, you can go to CODI (Consejo de Desarrollo Inmobiliario) and the national legislation will inform you what your duties are as a landlord or tenant, informed Oscar Soley, Legal Assessor.
The article No 33 of the General Urban and Suburban Leasing Law establishes how the landlord should proceed regarding costs and maintenance of the property.
Damages caused only by weather conditions and climate should be repaired by the owner. Some of the work could be repairing leaks caused by the rainy season, changing old parts of the roof or fixing a damaged door.
If some repairs have to be made urgently, the tenant must notify the landlord, so he can solve the problem immediately.
“If the landlord does not attend the request within the following 10 days, the tenant can start to repair the damage and deduct the expenses from the rent”.
The situation can be different if the tenant starts making alterations to the property, such as aesthetic or decorative changes which means to make the property more comfortable for the tenant. Then, the tenant should pay for the expenses.
The tenant should have a previous authorization from the landlord, so he can precede with the alterations such as painting the walls, changing the floors or varnishing furniture that already existent on the property.
Soley informed that the tenant should be in charge of all the procedures and payment of the damages done to the property caused by him/her/them.
Return of the leased property. If the tenant wants to finish the lease contract, he (she) should notify the landlord at least three months in advance.
In case that the owner wants the house back, he can notify the tenants before the three years are due. The property should then be occupied only by the landlord or family members.
The contract can be annulled if the tenant breaks his obligations, among them: the tenant changes the purpose of the leased property; for example, changing the living purpose to a commercial store, does not pay the rent, does not let the landlord inspect the property or does not keep the house properly.
If that happens, it has to go to a court hearing where the further procedures will be determined. It is a very complicated and annoying process for both, the landlord and the tenant.
In order to start this process, the landlord has to send a written notification to the tenant, where he/she establishes the reasons why the contract was violated.
If the person decides to continue living on the property, the case will be taken to court and the judge will rule after hearing both testimonies. Some of these cases can last for years depending of the characteristics.
To rent or buy this 54 minute video with Costa Rica Attorney Roger Petersen please visit our Video On Demand page here.
Summary of Steps To Be Taken:
- Repairing damages caused by weather conditions must be repaired by the landlord. If the work to be done is because of the alterations made by the tenant, he/she has to be responsible for that.
- Deposit money: the landlord has 30 days to return the deposit paid by the tenant. Before that, the landlord has to make sure that the property is in the same conditions as it was at the beginning of the contract and the public services fees are paid totally. If there are any debts, they should be deducted from the deposit money.
- Rent payment: it should be paid the first seven days of the month. If this is not fulfilled, the landlord can send a letter demanding the tenant to pay on time. If the problem continues the landlord can take legal actions against the tenant.
- Terminating the contract: the landlord will be able to claim the house before the three- year- contract is due, as long as he/she or relatives will live in the house.
You can download the Costa Rica Rental Laws in Spanish from our Download Library here.
Our thanks to our friends at La Nación – Costa Rica’s largest Spanish circulation newspaper for their permission use this article.
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