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  • Writer's pictureThe Bella Blog

We signed on the dotted line - Our Life in Costa Rica

We've made a decision on a rental and have signed the lease! Yahoo!

Lease signing celebration toasting with fresh juice!

Of course I could just announce the winner today but...nah, that would be wayy too easy!! LOL

Decided to come back later with another post (and perhaps even a video - who knows) explaining our decision making process. That way I can share some of our thoughts AND hopefully provide some pointers and tips in case you find yourself in a similar situation.

But, since you stopped by today, here are a few things I learned about...


Rental Agreements


1. It was NOTHING like the rental process/lease agreement process in the states (or should I say the process in the SF Bay Area) I've been a renter most of my life and in several different states.

2. There was no credit check.

3. There was no reference check or letter needed.

4. No verified income requirement.

6. There was no application fee.

7. Rental laws in Costa Rica are Pro-Tenant.

8. You can negotiate a lot in the agreement.

9. You can request the length of the contract. Most long term leases are usualy at least 1 yr, although my understanding is that by law the agreement covers you for 3 yrs. The laws are so rigid here in favor of the renter that you can almost never be kicked out!!

10. If the rent is agreed in US dollars or other foreign currency, no yearly increase is allowed. A rent increase is allowed only in cases of agreements in colones, the Costa Rican currency.

11. If the term of the agreement expires, it is automatically renewed for three years more, unless the landlord gives the tenant a three month period prior notice, stating he will not renew the agreement. (We have not had a rent increase in the 4 yrs we have been in this house. Our original contract was for 14 months).

12. You can rent furnished and unfurnished places. Most unfurnished houses/apts do NOT include kitchen appliances.

13. The lease will state what is covered, such as electricity, water, cable etc.

14. Most contracts will require that a deposit equal to one month's rent be paid upfront (at the time of signing). I'm told that the deposit is rarely returned no matter how clean you leave the place. In our current house, we negotiated with our landlord to use the deposit as the last months rent - which he agreed to.

15. Most leases are standard and written in Spanish so you will have to get it translated. If you have questions you can always check with a lawyer. In both cases, for us, our lease was already translated into English before we received it. If there is some wording in the lease that you don't like you can usually get it changed.


I found the process to be very much like I would imagine the process was in the states many years ago. You meet with the real estate rep and/or the owner and you chit chat a bit, both asking and answering questions. You both get a feel for the other. Then it's like a gentleman's agreement and a handshake (in the age of covid an elbow bump or nod) now add a written contract and exchange of money. That's it!! So much nicer than the often grueling process I have endured on too many occasions back in the states!!

Anyway, please stop back by and I will post the final results soon!

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