Flaws in File May Cost You Your Property

by Garland M Baker on October 14, 2003

On Nov. 22, all annotations over one year old will expire and be purged at the Registro Nacional, Costa Rica’s national registry of properties. This could affect you and your property if for some reason its title is not clear or fully registered.

Here’s a little background. On Nov. 22, 1998, a new notary law was approved and took effect. Before that date all property (real and chattel) annotations would never expire. An annotation is a note on a property’s computer file that indicates a document is pending registration and is defective for some reason. A document can be incomplete for even simple problems, like not enough legal stamps were affixed, taxes could be due, or a number like a cédula (identification number) is incorrect.

The new notary law changed the time limit to one year that a document can be in a limbo un-registered state. However, to give everyone a chance, the old annotations (prior to Nov. 22, 1998) were “grandfathered” and given five years to be fixed. This extended period ends this November and approximately 150,000 unregistered documents with annotations will be purged from the National Registry’s computers.

How does this affect you? If you purchased a property, car, boat, plane, or anything else that needs its title registered and it is not complete, it could be re-sold again by the original owner.

For example, a good friend bought a piece of property 14 years ago in Santa Ana. This property was part of a larger parcel that was subdivided.

The original document covering the subdividing of the property presented to the National Registry was found to be defective and for 14 years the transaction has been in suspense. If this registration is purged on Nov. 22, the original owner and/or heirs could place a new request to divide the property differently and re-sell the parcels.

What should you do? Anyone can obtain a printout of any property via the Internet at http://consultas.registronacional.go.cr. If annotations exist, a microfilm copy can be obtained to verify why the property was not registered.

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