Without a doubt, the most secure way to live in Costa Rica is in a gated and guarded community which is subject to the Condominium Property Law Regime.

2936Monthly maintenance quotas are mandated for each condominium lot, or unit to ensure both the provision of security and maintenance, which quotas are the subject of specific collection procedures enforceable as against the owner.

The interesting thing about this property holding configuration is that it “flies in the face” of Article 45 of the Costa Rica Constitution which provides that holding a registered title to a piece of real property provides the owner with absolute rights as to its use and enjoyment; essentially “a man’s home is his castle concept”.

In the case of a condominium lot, or unit held pursuant to the Condominium Property Law Regime, an owner, at the time of purchase, agrees to adopt the By-laws of Administration of the Condominium project (Reglamento) and to delegate all of his, or her Constitutional  condominium property rights to the Administrator of the Condominium.

Although this might not seem that strange to an American, or Canadian purchaser, having been familiar with the condominium property regime concept for some time, it is a relatively new form of property holding for Costa Ricans.

Most Costa Ricans have grown-up under the concept of not having to answer to anyone for property issues other than the Municipal Government for the payment of property taxes once a year and to otherwise enjoy their property as they please, creating noise, having barking dogs, etc. and having a general disregard for their neighbours. In the close quarters of condominium living, these traits tend to create friction between neighbours and violate Condominium By-laws which violations and restriuctions would never have come into play in a circumstance of individually registered and free-standing properties in the old-style Tico neighbourhoods.

Ticos generally do not adapt very well to these new forms of restrictions promulgated by Condominium By-laws and the payment of fines for non-compliance, let-alone the payment of a monthly maintenance quota.

In choosing to live in a Condominium Project, foreigners ought be aware of the differences that exist in the thinking between North Americans and Ticos in this regard and be prepared to compromise for annoyances and living styles which remain a work-in-progress for Ticos in the evolution of condominium living in Costa Rica.


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Richard Philps
Attorney Richard (Rick) Philps is a Canadian citizen, naturalized as a citizen of Costa Rica. Rick practiced law in Victoria, B.C., Canada as a member of the Law Society of British Columbia, for fourteen years, prior to moving to Costa Rica in 1998. Rick then earned his Bachelor of Laws and Licensing Degrees (Civil Law), with Honours, and a Post-Graduate Degree in Notary and Registry Law, from the Metropolitana Castro Carazo and Escuela Libre de Derecho Universities, in San Jose. Rick is a member of the Costa Rica College of Lawyers, and practices law in Costa Rica in the areas of real estate and development, corporate, commercial, contract, immigration, and banking with the Law Firm of Petersen & Philps, located in Escazu, a western suburb of San Jose. To contact Attorney Rick Philps about hiring him as your Costa Rican Attorney, please use the following information: Lic. Rick Philps - Attorney at Law, Petersen & Philps, San Jose, Costa Rica Tel: 506-2288-4381, Ext. 102; Email: rick@costaricacanadalaw.com Website: www.costaricacanadalaw.com