Home Blogs Rico's Q A Landlord tries to take advantage of a “dumb gringo” tenant

A Landlord tries to take advantage of a “dumb gringo” tenant

Costa Rica's residential tenant law sets out a minimum length of a residential rental agreement at three years, automatically renewed in the absence of a written notice 3 months before the lease expires


RICO’S Q — Yesterday, August 30, was supposed to be the day I moved out of my rental place. My landlord had been ordering me around for the past five months, thinking she could do whatever she wanted to some “dumb gringo” from her “casa de lujo” (fancy mansion).

I moved in four years ago in July 2019. A nice house, built a few years before, on a big piece of land backing onto a raving. But it is definitely not luxurious. That’s not the point.

My landlord’s attitude is what it is, the registered owner of the property, acquired through inheritance.

From day one, I hadn’t really interacted with her much. Her husband was the one I dealt He owns a few rental places and is an awesome de facto landlord. He was the one I would call if I ever had a problem, like the most recent two months, the cleaning of the gutters.

Mrs Landlord called me up last March to complain about the “salvage yard” in the front yard of her ‘luxury property” – my stretch limo up for sale and Mercedes waiting on parts. The limo was sold and picked up the morning before she came for an inspection, and the Mercedes was sold a few weeks later, deciding to sell rather than repair.

On the day of the agreed-upon inspection, she told me that she wasn’t going to keep renewing the lease and that I should be out by the end of August, giving me enough time to find somewhere else to live. She didn’t want to keep her lease going so her son could move in.

I heard her out but didn’t make any promises. Later, she followed up with messages on WhatsApp.

My wife and I had our feria (market) pizza business up and running and wanted something more stable, so we considered the opportunity to move to a place nearer to Santa Ana center where we could both live and work.

A few possibilities didn’t work out.

We finally decided on a shop in downtown, and it’s now up and running. And stay put in the house.

With the decision made, on August 15th, I told (by WhatsApp, her choice of communication) Mrs Landlord that I talked to a lawyer and decided to stay.

She was quick to remind me that we had signed the lease four years ago, like it was yesterday, making it clear that she could make me move out if she wanted.

Well, It was time for me, the “dumb gringo,” to point out the Costa Rican laws about residential rentals.

The “Ley General de Arrendamientos Urbanos y Suburbanos” sets the minimum length of a residential rental agreement (such as houses, apartments or condos) at three years, so if a tenant fulfills their duties, they can stay for that amount of time, regardless of what the contract states.

If the landlord wants the tenant to move out of the property at the end of the term, they’ll need to give written notice at least 3 months before it expires – otherwise, the agreement will be renewed for another 3 years.

When I pointed out to her that she was right, that the lease had been signed back in July 2019, and since there was no notification, it was automatically renewed for another three years, so ending in July 2025.

Her reply was, “I have a lawyer too and I do not want to speak to you anymore”, to which I replied, “Perfect” and paid the rent like I do every month, always make sure to pay my rent on time and never miss a payment; she even complimented me on it in March, as well as endearing myself with her brothers and sisters, my neighbors.

So, here we are.

Stay tuned.






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