Non-Traditional Accommodations Law No. 9742
The current technological revolution includes mobile applications for all kinds of services, from buying food and objects which you receive at your door, a ride around town and even non-traditional renting. In Costa Rica the latter type of service had not been regulated until the middle of the month of November 2019, when the Framework Law for the Regularization of non-traditional hosting and intermediation through Digital Platforms N ° 9742 was published. It is relevant to point out that the nature of this law comes from two main factors: the effective regulation of taxes forgone by the State prior to it, which increase exponentially due to the technological revolution, and the search for better control and user safety.
This law’s objective is to regulate the provision of tourism services of home rentals, apartments, villas, chalets, cottages, rooms or any other similar construction, as well as to protect the rights of its users, and regulate the service provider platforms or intermediary companies, which mediate between the users and service providers of non-traditional lodging (Article No. 1).
Additionally, it establishes that non-traditional lodging establishments pay a specific tax to strengthen, the support and monitoring programs of this act in charge of the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT), the institutional functions of the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) and to finance the administrative procedures of the Revenue Service related to the tax.
To achieve this goal, regulations are established on:
- Authorization from the ICT and the Ministry of Finance for the establishment of cooperation agreements with trading companies or intermediaries.
- Rights and obligations of users.
- Rights and obligations of non-traditional hosting service providers.
- Obligations of marketing companies or intermediaries.
- Registry of non-traditional hosting service providers in charge of ICT.
- Registration of marketing companies or intermediaries in charge of ICT.
- Services and minimum conditions for the provision of non-traditional hosting service.
- What constitutes an illegal operation of non-traditional hosting service providers.
It is important to mention that people interested in providing such services, i.e. service providers, according to Article No. 3 in subsection d) are defined as any natural person or legal entity in its own name, with the intention of generating profit, who are dedicated to providing hosting services to tourists, domestic or foreign, for periods not longer than one year, or less than twenty-four hours.
Moreover, although in Costa Rica the Law on Equal Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities No. 7600 applies to all services to the consumer, Article No. 15 of Law No. 9742 presents an exception to the application of Law No. 7600, specifically when the properties are part of the house inhabited by the service provider of non-traditional hosting, which means that not to make constructive changes to the property.
Another special condition set out in the Law allows such activities can take place in areas declared residential, provided they do not alter, disrupt or adversely impact the environment. This is important because in principle non-traditional lodges emerged from the idea of using built vacant spaces and to get “extra resources”, which are generally located in suburbs, housing developments and other habitable places around the cities.
In addition, illegal operation of this type of accommodation will involve the application of sanctions established in the law for conducting a commercial activity, and will require immediate action by the Revenue Service, Ministry of Health, municipalities and any other institution that regulates commercial activities.