Accommodation in Costa Rica: scams you should look out for

Hi,

Committing to renting or buying accommodation when you’re new to or have not moved to Costa Rica just yet is always a stressful endeavour. Would you like to help us in putting together a handbook of what to look out for when house hunting in Costa Rica?

What are the most common scams in Costa Rica?

What are the red flags to look out for when scanning through adverts?

Is there a list of registered or accredited landlords or real estate agencies in Costa Rica?

What authorities should be sought should one come across an accommodation scam?

Please share your experience,

Bhavna

I have one that occurred to my friend last week.  He purchased three perfectly good lots within a gated community.  Water and electricity to all sights.  What his lawyer did not research or offer up  was an "uso de suela" for this property.  This is a check to see if there is spring water in the vicinity.  Turns out that property adjacent to his three lots has a fairly good spring on the property.  Even though the spring is not on his property, his properties are within 200 meters of the spring.  The local municipality will not issue a building permit.  DO NOT purchase land without an "uso de suelo", if it is a large tract of land you may have multiple feasible building sites outside of the restrictions imposed by a spring.

TerrynViv :

I have one that occurred to my friend last week.  He purchased three perfectly good lots within a gated community.  Water and electricity to all sights.  What his lawyer did not research or offer up  was an "uso de suela" for this property.  This is a check to see if there is spring water in the vicinity.  Turns out that property adjacent to his three lots has a fairly good spring on the property.  Even though the spring is not on his property, his properties are within 200 meters of the spring .  The local municipality will not issue a building permit.  DO NOT purchase land without an "uso de suelo", if it is a large tract of land you may have multiple feasible building sites outside of the restrictions imposed by a spring.

Yes that is a scam because what kind of gated community developer sells lots without the ability to build on them? I hope they can sue for their money back.

So yeah, always check to make sure that with any lot you buy you can build, put in water, and electricity, AND you have legal access to get to your property. Even good attorneys don't always check for things like this, they just check re the title.  I would argue though that an attorney who doesn't even mention that these things need to be checked on, is maybe not such a good attorney, regardless of it not being their responsibility to do so. You'd think they'd at least inform their client.

It's "caveat emptor" or Buyer Beware as far as making sure you have all the necessary ducks in a row.

Be aware that if a spring or creek that runs all year is on your property, there are restrictions re building near creeks and springs. Sometimes many meters away, and it depends on which county you are in.

As for buying property there is no realtor accreditation so you have to use word of mouth. Many realtors have no clue and all they do is show you a property and collect a commission if you buy it. Some are better and actually help make sure you don't get ripped off. Ask for recommendations from fellow gringos and Ticos as to who is a good one. Also with attorneys for realty or as they are called here, "notaries". Get recommendations and not just from 1-2 people. NEVER use the seller's attorney! Get your own and make sure he is willing to check on all of the above things I mentioned or at least refer you to someone who can, or help you do it yourself.

As far as renting, i'm sure there are scams but I have never heard of anyI I'd say get it in writing as to how much you have to pay and what that payment includes (electricity, furnishings etc), and don't trust gringos any more than you'd trust Ticos. Gringos do rip off other gringos sometimes.

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