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Condominium Rules in Costa Rica

You are looking to invest in a property located in a condominium in Costa Rica. Congratulations! First of all, let's discuss what does a condominum entails: a gated housing development enclosed by a fence or a wall, all

You are looking to invest in a property located in a condominium in Costa Rica. Congratulations!

First of all, let’s discuss what does a condominum entails: a gated housing development enclosed by a fence or a wall, all of which is watched over by a guard service that functions 24 hours per day. Only residents of the community are free to enter and leave as they please. Visitors—friends or maids and handymen—are required to show identification and to register with the guard before being allowed to enter. The idea is to create a community that is crime free and that has first class roads and other public utilities. People who live in gated communities are subject to legally established bylaws and other regulations, although the nature of the bylaws can differ quite a bit from one community to another. Commercial developments are also allowed to be incorporated as a condominium.

To help you better prepare, below you will find the sampler of regular items you may find in the Costa Rican Condominium Rules.

In Costa Rica, the Condominium Rules (Also known as Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs), Homeowners Associations Rules or Condominium Bylaws), are based on the Condominium Law N-7933, specifically under article 33. It is important to mention, that the CC&Rs are determined once the condominum is initially created, however, the rules can be modified by the Homeowners Association (HOA).

In the majority of Costa Rican Condominiums, you will find the following items:

Condominium Fee/Special Assessments: The HOA is in charge of collecting the Condo’s fees and assessments, the exact amount should be indicated on its bylaws, and each homeowner must pay on a monthly basis. It is important to clarify, that if the homeowner does not pay the condominium fee, a collection process will be submitted to a Costa Rican court, that can end with the foreclosure of the property.

Property Maintenance: It regulates mainly the house/property, if you have a garden or a lawn it must be properly mantained, as well as the exterior painitng and cosmetic looks of your property.

Home decorations: Some condominiums have control or limit on how and when you can decorate your property/unit. The HOA can enforce or prohibit certain themes or political sings/expressions. So you should take into consideration your Condo Bylaws before going crazy with your christmas lights. Similarly, in higher end buildings you may find rules such as the limitation of doormats in hallways.

Garbage: Because of the importance of a been an  eco-friendly development, most of the CC&Rs can stablished an specific date for normal garbage and recycling recolletion.  It could require trash containers for normal garbage and recycling. If the homeowner does not comply with these rules, a fine can be impose to the homeowner.

Unsightly Items: Utility meters, clotheslines, satellite dish or a suitably hidden view. CC&Rs can stablish rules, to avoid the aforementioned, because the items must not been seen from the main street, to keep a clean cosmetic view of the development. Fines can be impose to the homeowner, if they don’t comply with this rule, also, the Administration of the Condominium can obligate the homeowner to remove the item.

Parking: Can regulate or prohibit parking in specific areas and limit guest parking.

Noise: There may be “quiet hours” under strict enforcement.

Rentals: AirBnB and other temporary rentals may be prohibited.

Pets: Can prohibit specific breeds of animals and limit the number of pets.

Fences: It could restrict the height of the fence or the type of fence (natural, block, metal, etc.).

Use of Common Areas: Can regulate the use of the common areas (swimming pool, sports areas, etc.).

It is very important to take into consideration that in the event that a homeowner violates any of the CC&R’s, the following penalties might be imposed:

Forced compliance: All CC&Rs can be enforce by the Administration of the Condominium, according to the aforesaid Condominium Law, all CC&Rs of a Condominium are mandatory for all homeowners, and all homeowners are obligated to comply with them.

Monetary Fines: If a homeowner violates any CC&R rule, the Administration based on the fine rules stated on the CC&RS, will impose monetary fines to such home owner.

Suspension of the use of common areas: If a homeowner violates an CC&R rule, the Administration based on the rules, can impose a suspension of use of the common areas, for such homeowner.

Costly and lengthy litigation: The suspensions, fines and enforceable rules impose by an Administrator to a homeowner, can be challenge at Court, and this judicial process can be expensive to the parties.

At Outlier Legal Services, we can assist you with any issue you may have with Condominium Bylaws.

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jfournier@outlierlegal.com

With over 19 years of professional experience in Law, Jean Pierre Fournier is an attorney with a Juris Doctor degree from ULACIT University (Costa Rica) as well as a Regulatory Compliance Law specialization degree obtained at the University of Pennsylvania (US). Dr. Fournier brings to Outlier the experience and knowledge it takes to accomplish excellent results in our Real Estate team.

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