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Renting Property

Costa Rica - Renting Property

In Costa Rica there are a set of laws which govern all property rental contracts. Certain details can be negotiated with landlords but there is a set structure for most contracts. A long term rental contract as standard will last for 3 years. If you want to leave the property before this time is up you are able to do so, but you must provide 3 months’ prior notice and your landlord has the right to keep your security deposit. Alternatively, the landlord and tenant may agree a fixed penalty for leaving the property within the contracted 3 years. If so, this should be negotiated as part of the original contract. If you pay your rent in USD or any other foreign currency the landlord is not allowed to raise it during the 3-year period. If you pay your rent in Colones however the landlord has the right to raise it by up to 15% per year. This can also be negotiated privately and incorporated into the initial agreement. The only situation in which a landlord may be able to increase rent by more than 15% is when the country’s inflation has reached over 15%.

A security deposit will be agreed upon between the landlord and tenant, but typically a landlord will ask for the value of one month’s rent as a deposit. There is no legal maximum for a security deposit but if a landlord is asking for advance payment this is limited to one month. Once a contract expires it is automatically renewed for a further 3 years unless the landlord provides 3 months’ notice that the contract will not be renewed.

Short term rental contracts and holiday rentals are widely available and these can be payable on a monthly, weekly or nightly basis. Many short term rentals will not require a security deposit – check this when agreeing your stay with the landlord. Short term rentals are a great option for exploring the country and getting a feel for its different locations and landscapes before choosing a single location to settle in. If you have found a vacation rental that you like the look of but are looking to stay longer term then you may be able to negotiate a cheaper rental rate for staying longer.

A rental advertised as ‘fully furnished’ will normally include all major appliances and furniture. However it is always advisable to check the full details as it is not unknown for a furnished apartment to be missing appliances and/or key pieces of furniture. Similarly, if a property is advertised as unfurnished it may or may not include major appliances so you will need to check with the landlord. In most rental properties in Costa Rica it is likely that the landlord will own the telephone line, meaning they can control it and turn off facilities like inbound and outbound international calling.

Rental prices can vary widely depending on location. You can expect to pay from $1000 per month upwards for a 1 bed flat in one of the bigger cities. In more isolated rural regions you can typically find properties to rent from $100 per month upwards for a 1 bedroom flat or $500 per month upwards for a 3 bedroom house. Renting is often a much cheaper option than purchasing property.

The best place to search for rentals is on the internet, with hundreds of websites providing long and short term letting. Costa Rica also has plenty of English speaking rental agents whom you may wish to visit in person and classified sections of local newspapers can be a useful source for finding rental properties. When selecting a location for a rental property it’s important to think about the local amenities that are available to you, such as hospitals or supermarkets. Some rural areas in Costa Rica can be very isolated and a long way from basic amenities.

It is useful to bear in mind that many foreigners who relocate to Costa Rica return to their country of origin within the first 12 months, so it can be advisable to rent a property for your initial entry into the country and then make a decision as to whether you want to opt for something more permanent.

Expat Health Insurance Partners

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