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This Secret Tip Will Help Keep New Neighbors in Line

by Garland M Baker on June 11, 2007

Restrictions that can run with the deed

People move to Costa Rica for a variety of reasons. Some come to join communities, others to build them.

Some expats are leaving the United States or planning to leave because laws, politics and Big Brother have them crazy. Others leave because they are wanted by the law or unwanted by society.

Whatever the reasons, Costa Rica is filling up with foreigners. Some of these outlanders are making small communities or sustainable developments — little utopias.

However, these groups have a problem. How do they restrict their utopia to similar type people? Most lawyers and other professionals state the only way to do it is through the condominium law.

Anyone who has ever owned a condo or belonged to a homeowners’ association is familiar with covenants, conditions and restrictions.

These restrictions are in the governing paperwork that dictates how a homeowners’ association operates and what rules the owners — and their tenants and guests — must obey. These legal documents become the bylaws, the master deed, and the houses rules of a group. They are legally enforceable by the group through the homeowners’ association.

Is there a way to put restrictions over a property without using Costa Rica’s condominium laws?

Yes there is — a very creative way. Here’s a secret tip.

Article 292 of Costa Rica’s civil code can limit or restrict property with any covenant, condition or restriction that is not contrary to law as long as it was put on the property without cost. The property will carry the limitations and restrictions for 10 years.

This means that a group that moves to Costa Rica that wants to subdivide a piece of land into lots and build an environmentally friendly, sustainable community with a certain architectural style, and no purple dogs or cats, among other restrictions, can do it freely by using Article 292.

Wait a minute. What does without cost mean? Does it mean restricted property is free?

No, restricted property is not free. Restricted property just needs to carry the restrictions when it is sold. Any restrictions need to be registered on the property deed at the Registro Nacional via a special process that incudes a previous no-cost transfer between owners.

This process is worth the effort for community builders and easy to accomplish — much easier than going though the condominium law in many circumstances.

Article 292 does not get around the normal requirements of subdividing a property or lot sizes. It is not a fast track around municipal or other governmental requirements or regulations. It is not for condominium towers — vertical condominiums. It is for segregated lots that are next to each other in a development.

This article of the civil code is a great community builder for those who share similar beliefs and a way of life, as long as the restrictions do not intrude on human rights specified in the Costa Rican Constitution.

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