Costa Rica Condominium Law Versus Residential Subdivision Law

Costa Rica Condominium Law Versus Residential Subdivision Law

costa rica real estate development

HOA By-Law Enforcement Differences

A common misconception by foreign property purchasers in Costa Rica, is that a regime of By-laws, commonly provided by a developer of individually subdivided and registered building lots, or completed dwellings, is an enforceable legal structure as against individual property owners. Such a HOA entity purporting to regulate the individual property owners and collect fees for maintenance of common areas, is unconstitutional in Costa Rica, as having a purpose which is contrary to the inalienable rights of property owners granted under the Costa Rica Constitution. Abiding by a regime of By-laws in such circumstances is purely voluntary on the part of the individual property owners.

A legally enforceable regime of By-laws in-fact only applies in the circumstances of a development being a registered Condominium in the National Registry and subject to the Costa Rican Condominium Laws. In such circumstances, the owner of a condominium lot delegates all of their rights at the time of purchase, to the named Administrator of the registered Condominium, who has the legal authority to enforce the registered regime of By-laws pursuant to the Condominium Law. This can involve enforcement of the monthly common area maintenance quota by way of an annotation of the property title with a certificate of the amount owing certified by a Public Accountant in default of payment and ultimately, foreclosure of the particular property to secure payment.

Accordingly, purchasers who purchase property in the circumstances of a development of individually registered lots, believing that all property owners in a particular development will be contributing in some fair manner through a HOA structure, to the cost of maintaining areas, which would be normally thought of a “common areas” in the development, such as private access roads, common area lighting, maintenance of “green zones”, etc. , may find that they are saddled with a greater cost than anticipated in order to have these various maintenance items attended to. This will depend on what their co-property owners in the development are willing to pay in the circumstances.

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: Website:

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