Recent articles both in Costa Rica and from other countries have pretty much run into the ground both the high cost of living in Pura Vida and the mega-cost of residential rentals.

We live in Piedades, La Trinidad and have very recently rejected a new rental agreement simply because it was both unexpected and unduly late.

The rule of law is that if one has a lease, that lease prevails for three years no matter the verbiage. As the renewal date approaches, the landlord (s) must inform the tenant of any intended changes to the terms and conditions of the original agreement 90 days prior to that renewal date. Otherwise, the original agreement rolls over for another three years.

We received an adjustment and new conditions less than two weeks (14) days prior to the roll over date of June 1, 2014. A surprise and as the foreign landlords would have it, we are expected to pay a new rental amount and with new terms.

We are not!

We anticipated a simple roll over for another three years under the same terms and conditions as the first contract.

Not being a lawyer, the options of the owners and their local administrator are to take us to court or make our lives miserable. So far, “miserable” has been the option of choice.

We have three, “yes,” three cats and arrived with only with two. (One has since died).

Sounds terrible except two of them were rescued from the landlords who abandoned them in their rush to return to California. They took two and dropped two more on the doorstep.

One escaped to the wilderness that surrounds us and was injured. When found, the vets said it would be humane to euthanize him while the other lived off the land near by. We found her but only as skin and bones.

We brought both back to health and never asked for compensation. Although, if we sold the left behind television set and DVD recorder we could use that money for medical expenses. (They are not sold and we have not a clue where they are at this point.)

We paid for the protective cage of the injured guy, we paid for both to be neutered and we paid for the vaccinations and as well as their individual, on going healthcare. Nobody wanted to adopt them except two students from the University of Paz who would be moving on within one year.

“No,” we decided not to give the little guys up! “That’s a fact Jack”, (Bill Murray in “Stripes”) All three sleep safely under our roof here inside, they have had the best of medical care, a lot of love and the best of foods bringing them back to good health.

Since our turn down of the new contract, the owners and local administrator are working on getting us out. So far small things like the new neighbors, a nice young couple moved in and 1) the administrator said “No “dog.”, 2) the U.S. based landlord emailed, a “small dog” and 3) reality is that we have a 7 month old pit bull next door.

It is the 21st of May and we have conveniently not received the invoice for electricity, water, cable, Internet nor telephone which, without Internet all would have been cut off by now.

The point is that as expats or nationals renting, you must know the law, you must know your rights and you must have access to Internet so as not to have your essential utilities turned off forcing evacuation.

The very 1st level of offense is that the landlords will claim that one or the other wants to reclaim the property to live on premise. The answer is simple, “Why then email a few days ago an addendum to the original contract to rent the property three years longer?

The renter defense of a new agreement is Costa Rica law, Article 71 of Ley General de Arrendimientos Urbanos y Suburbanos (A mouthful, but well worth remembering.)

Also, in the event that a foreign, non-colon, currency is used as payment, the rent cannot automatically be increased based upon inflation.  (Editor’s note, for clarity, all residential contracts in colones comes with an automatic annual rental increase. If in dollars, for example, the rent can only be increase as stipulated in the rental contract. No mention of an increase, no increase is permitted for the three years).

My information comes from the attorney, Lic. Jose Pablo Mata, MBA and can be located at: josepablo@gmailcom

I am the first to admit that Costa Rica has a plethora of rules and regulations. But for real estate rentals they are specific and pretty clear. Unlike many countries, they tend to favor the tenant, the consumer.

My wife and three kitties will test them!


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