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Renting Property in Costa Rica – What Do I Need to Know?

Posted by admin on September 10, 2013
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Costa-Rica-coastAre you considering renting property in Costa Rica? Whether you’ve got your eye on a cute little rental home that’s just right for you and your family or a large property that you can share with others, there’s plenty of temporary housing to choose from in Costa Rica. No matter how long (or how brief) your stay, chances are you can find something that’s within your budget and that will provide you with a comfortable place to rest your head while you’re away from home. Never go into renting blindly, though; there are a few things that every person should know before scouting out rental property in Costa Rica.

Types of Rentals Available

As mentioned, there are all kinds of different rental property types to choose from. Just bear in mind that prices can vary widely from one property to the next, so you’ll always want to inquire about cost upfront, especially if you’re on a tight budget! At the expensive end of the spectrum you have your luxury vacation rentals, many of which come complete with spa access, beach access, pools, and other great amenities; unless you can find a deal online, however, you’ll pay plenty for one of these rentals. A more affordable but still nice option is to rent a private or shared villa or home. You can get a real taste of the local culture and save money if you stay away from the touristy side of town and choose to live among the locals instead. Environmentally-minded individuals may want to consider staying in eco lodges, rainforest housing units, or even the tree-house hotels that dot the area. There are also cabins and small homes available in the mountains, by Costa Rica’s lakes, or even near breathtaking volcanoes! No matter which type of property you choose, the easiest way to save money is by going during the off-season and choosing locales that aren’t specifically geared toward tourists.

Are You in It for the Long Haul?

Every area has its own laws and regulations as they relate to rental properties and the relationship between landlord and tenant. In the United States, for example, it is standard for a rental contract or lease agreement to be binding for a period of at least one year. In Costa Rica, however, most rental contracts are for three years. If you’re planning a shorter stay, talk to prospective landlords to see if they are willing to draw up a special lease to accommodate you. Most landlords will offer six month lease agreements, and some will even offer shorter-term rentals. With most lease agreements, you will be required to inform your landlord three months in advance if you plan to vacate the property; opting out of the lease earlier than that or earlier than the lease term specifies will generally result in the loss of the security deposit. Your landlord will give you the same respect if he or she wishes to end the rental agreement; three months in advance is standard notice time for most Costa Rican landlords. The only exception is when you and your landlord dwell in the same building; then, you’ll probably only find out about the desired termination a month or so in advance. It’s also important to note that rental contracts automatically renew after the lease agreement is up unless you request otherwise

Money Matters

It may seem strange but, in Costa Rica, it actually matters how you pay your rent. Renters who pay their rental fees in United States dollars will enjoy the same, flat rental rate throughout the duration of their stay, while all others are subject to a 15% or less increase on rent. Also, it is very important that you pay your rent on time; landlords in Costa Rica aren’t as lenient about late payments as landlords in the United States are. After one week of non-payment in Costa Rica, you can be evicted, and if the eviction is successful, any money you owe can be deducted from your security deposit. You can also be evicted for illegal activity, such as subletting your apartment to someone else or having drugs in your apartment. The likelihood of your landlord finding out about illegal activities is high, since landlords are allowed to inspect their rental units as often as once per month.

A Rental with All the Trimmings

Unless you’re planning to relocate to Costa Rica indefinitely, you probably aren’t going to haul heavy furniture and other belongings across the country. Fortunately for you, you don’t have to! Many rentals come fully furnished, often for a small additional fee. Even if a sample rental unit you look at isn’t furnished, ask your landlord about your options, since a furnished rental is a great way to ensure you have everything you need while you’re enjoying life in beautiful Costa Rica. If you’re having a lot of trouble finding the right place to stay, it’s also worthwhile to note that there are many rental locator services that will find you a great rental for a small fee.