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How To Rent Your Costa Rica Home: 5 Misconceptions That Could Cost You

Lounging on your favorite spot on a beach in Costa Rica is one of the best things you can experience in this country.  A vacation in a paradise-like Costa Rica is a great way to slow down and forget about time constraints. Simply take in and make the most of the lovely things that you don’t typically get to see every day. Perhaps until it’s time to head back to your usual life. It’s amazing to realize that somewhere in another part of the world, our life can be totally different. And it’s often the reason why many decide to stay in Costa Rica for longer than a few days or a week’s vacation. 

Costa Rica, fortunately, has a wide range of vacation rentals and housing options. That is true not only for local guests but also for foreign visitors. Finding a perfect house to rent for the short term or long term is one of the most popular and wise alternatives. Especially for those who are deciding if Costa Rica is for them.

If you wish to rent a property in Costa Rica, you need to be wise and familiar with the Costa Rican rental market. This article will help you make more informed decisions. It is here to help you correct misconceptions and avoid mistakes as a renter in Costa Rica.

Understanding Costa Rica Real Estate for Rent

Renting helps people pick the perfect location to live the lifestyle they want. That is without fully committing to purchasing a property. Besides not having to shell out a big investment, it buys people time to see if it’s indeed worth it. This is especially useful when you have plans to relocate to Costa Rica. Furthermore, renting can save you money. Enjoy much-needed time in a tropical paradise. All those without breaking the bank.

There is no shortage of charming homes and exciting locations in Costa Rica to choose from. One thing you have to know though is that the demand can be high especially in cities like San Jose. Costa Rica’s Central Valley is popular among foreigners who are looking for the same option to rent. They rent either for just vacation or moving to Costa Rica for good. The good news is that rentals in Costa Rica are spread throughout the Pacific Coast and beyond. It’s the most diverse little country in Central America that can offer the most choices in real estate.

Some Costa Rica vacation rentals are in an exclusive gated community. Many prefer an exclusive condominium. Rentals may also be another property type. You name it! You can find many independently owned vacation rentals and long-term rentals here. There are fully equipped properties with full amenities. Amenities may include a swimming pool, posh bedrooms, and a walk-in closet. They have the basic living spaces for a single person or a family. It includes a dining room, bathroom, laundry room, storage room, and kitchen with granite countertops. Some have manicured gardens, a terrace, or a bbq area.  

You can also find spacious houses with high ceilings and amazing views. Possibly near a country club or a tennis court. Given the numerous options available, it is not difficult to discover the property type you seek. And not just in San José or the city. You can search for Costa Rica’s finest rentals located in your preferred city. You can also search in the suburbs, or rural areas throughout the country.

There are not many limitations for owning a property in Costa Rica for foreigners. The only limit for foreigners on property ownership in Costa Rica is the maritime law. The law prevents them from buying a beach property that is 200 meters within the hightide line. They will only be able to do so when they have lived in the country for a minimum of five years. 

And so the same is true for foreign renters. They have the same rights as the locals when it comes to renting homes. They are not required to be granted residency to rent in Costa Rica. They can rent a variety of properties. This includes flats, condominiums, homes, offices, building lots, and luxury villas. A foreigner can rent any sort of property that is offered for rent.

Considering renting in Costa Rica? Do not sign any crucial contracts unless you have first inspected the property you seek to rent. Before making any final decisions, here are a few reasons why you should visit Costa Rica first.

Why do we do an in-person house search?

Century21 Pura Vida does in-person checks on properties because we avoid these risks. Doing a physical check will save you from a lot of troubles that may arise.

1. Inaccurate information

Online transactions alone may not offer all of the information you want. It’s hard to ascertain if the details are accurate or not. It’s crucial to double-check the property’s exact location first.

Misplaced markers are common in online listings. It can cause a lot of hassle when you find out too late. They can be misleading and can be a hundred miles away from the property. Imagine arriving at the location and not finding the property there. 

Unfortunately, some inaccurate information is provided on purpose. Scammers are all over the internet. Internet listings are useful. However, make sure your contact can give you honest information about the property.

2. Generated graphics vs actual photos

Image representations are frequently used in online listings. Some of which are computer-aided designs. That’s okay but won’t give you an idea of the exact and full details of the spaces. Others use pictures of a similar unit but not the same unit. The little details could make a big difference. It is important to check the accuracy of these images to provide realistic visuals. This is one of our goals and the reason why we need to check the property ourselves.

3. Non-negotiables

Of course, we have different dislikes that are non-negotiable. Finding a place to rent is more than just how the house looks. We would want to live free of our major annoyances. They may degrade the pleasure of our stay if we had to deal with them on a daily basis. Unbearable noises, lingering odors from adjacent sewage, and agricultural operations are some examples. Vacations can easily turn into a nightmare if we all base our decisions on how things look on the surface.

These are major red flags, but you won’t know about them until you check it yourself or have someone you can trust do so.

4. Accessibility 

This is something you’ll have to see for yourself. The rough trip to your new home may be worthwhile. But think about it on a daily basis. Some areas have difficult driveways that need the use of 4WD. That’s OK if you’re completely happy with it. But if not, you should know and consider whether this is a part of the package you are prepared to sign up for.

More Tips for Your House Search

When is the best time to look for houses to rent?

The off-season is the best time to find rental housing. However, finding adequate selections will be tough if rental property owners aren’t as active in enlisting on the market. After a successful season, most of them would be taking it easy.   They will not actively advertise their rental homes.

The month of May is the start of the off-season. So the months of June through August are perfect for finding and renting a new home. At this moment, most rental homes are rented out at a modest rate. And the majority of them are still available and not totally booked.

What types of properties are available for rent in Costa Rica? 

A common type of accommodation here is an apartment, but there are a variety of options for your budget. This includes single-detached dwellings, condominiums, and villas to name a few. Prices depend on the demand and the popularity of the location. Prices are determined by demand and the attractiveness of the place. Prices grow as you go closer to areas with easy access to beaches.  While those with breathtaking mountain views might be fairly priced.

Short-term Vacation Rentals or Long-term?

A short-term stay in Costa Rica is an excellent opportunity to find long-term options. If you want to live in a popular region for the long term, rent short-term in adjacent places. Living there will also allow you access to the area so you can observe and make that major decision.

You must be there to view things to make smart judgments. Make judgments based on reliable facts. Also, make an effort to socialize and fit in as much as possible. You could be lucky enough to acquire the best counsel from the locals. Best of all, travel to Costa Rica knowing exactly what you want. And from that know what possibilities you have to enjoy your stay to the fullest.

Rental Process and Rules

After you have decided what you want, you can start the rental process. The typical process starts with showing your interest to rent the property. Speak to the landlord and agree on payments. There will be a security deposit to settle before moving in. 

It’s quite simple and typical of many other countries. Signing contracts is always ideal versus verbal agreements. However, there are a few more things to know which you probably don’t know about renting in Costa Rica.

Things You Need to Know About Renting in Costa Rica

  • The contract is in Spanish.
  • The law regulates a minimum of three years for rental contracts.
  • If you terminate your contract for less than a year, you typically wouldn’t get the deposit back. 
  • If you stay for at least a year, you have the right to get your deposit back.
  • Wait for 30 days to receive the deposit so the landlord can assess and account for damages and bills if any.
  • All deposits are in cash.
  • It is typical to pay for a pet deposit if you brought a pet.
  • The deposit should not exceed a month’s rent.

Prepare these requirements:

  • Passport
  • Letter of reference from the previous landlord (optional)
  • Proof of sufficient funds (optional)

The last two requirements will depend on whether the landlord will ask for them. Some don’t. You typically need just your passport and don’t need to be a resident to rent a home in Costa Rica. 

5 Misconceptions of Renters in Costa Rica

#1 Long-term stay is more expensive than short-term.

It’s best to prepare ahead if you’re going to be in Costa Rica for an extended period. Choose a long-term rental because discounts are simple to come by if you intend on staying for at least a year. Short-term rentals will always be a lucrative business in Costa Rica. However, the owners must cope with greater wear and maintenance expenditures. Compared to the short-term, finding long-term tenants does not require constant advertising. Once they find a decent tenant, they won’t have to worry about booking the rentals for years. Convince your landlord that you are a good tenant and prove it is so.

#2 People choose Costa Rica because it’s the cheapest country to relocate to.

Living in Costa Rica is less expensive. That is when compared to the cost of the high quality of living in several European nations and the United States. The main consideration is the caliber of living accessible in this country.  The lower cost is just a bonus.

If you are one of those who were charmed by Costa Rica’s beaches, consider the cost of living near these touristy spots. Also, consider other expenses such as air conditioning which is often a must in dry areas all year round.

#3 Eviction can be decided by the landlord right away after nonpayment.

Renters have their rights as anybody, whether they are foreigners or locals. With that said, that is irrelevant if you do not know your own rights. It would be ideal to prove that you are a good tenant by paying on time and not missing a payment. But in cases that you miss a payment, know that the landlord cannot evict you right away.

In Costa Rica, there is a process of eviction. The landlord will not ask you to settle the payment after you miss it but will wait for the 8th day to do so. You’ll get a week of grace period before the landlord acts on it. This doesn’t have to be. Communicate well with your landlord and always be responsible for paying on time.

#4 Renters can be penalized for terminating their contract early.

Since all contracts follow a three-year period, many will assume that there will be a penalty for not completing it. But in Costa Rica, that is not the case. As a tenant, you can terminate the contract earlier without facing a penalty.

#5 Improvements can be done at your expense

Major damages impacting your stay should be addressed immediately by the landlord. Any damages should be reported to the landlord as soon as possible. As long as it is not owing to the tenant’s fault, the landlord shall pay for any structural repairs.

The landlord has 10 days to address any issues like faulty plumbing, a leaking roof, or other repairs that compromise the quality of the stay. If it hasn’t been remedied within 10 days, the tenant has the option to get it fixed. The expense can be subtracted from the rent.

The landlord, on the other hand, is simply liable for repair costs. Any improvements to the place for aesthetic reasons should be paid for by the tenant. Examples of these are fresh paint or tile replacement. It must be approved by the landlord. 

It’s worth noting that approval should be written rather than spoken. This is because the renter must return the property in the same condition in which it was rented. The tenant may incur charges for the expense of the modification. To avoid incurring these charges, it is critical to obtain formal clearance.

Costa Rica is a Safe Haven for Savvy Renters

Rentals in Costa Rica are governed by legislation. A lack of understanding may cost you a lot of time, effort, and money. Before you sign a lease, be sure you are a well-informed renter. If you’re committing to a long-term Costa Rican lifestyle, avoid things you didn’t sign up for. This ensures a stress-free life in the long run. You did not have to go through any difficulties to learn nor should it cost you. 

Get the finest tips on where to look and what to avoid. Trust in those who will educate you and guide you in identifying potential problems. The best life and a beautiful house are waiting for you in Costa Rica.

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