Buying a Property in Costa Rica with the Intent of Subdividing?

Invicta Legal Group

Provided by Invicta Legal

In an effort to keep our clients up-to-date on the latest news about properties in Costa Rica, we offer you this update regarding new regulations on the potential subdivision of “Agricultural Land Parcels” in Costa Rica. If you have any questions regarding how this affects a specific property you own or are considering buying in Costa Rica, contact a Costa Rica Real Estate Service professional for more information.

Modifications to the Subdivisions and Housing Development Control Rules
On September 13th, 2020, modifications to the Subdivisions and Housing Development Control rules became enforceable in Costa Rica.

The following are the main currently applicable conditions for subdivision of agricultural parcels:

  • An “agricultural”/ “forest”/ “cattle” parcel is a lot where one of these activities is developed, and its purposes are to grow crops or animals. These parcels include fallow lands, protection areas for rivers and creeks, and are the result of a planned subdivision of a mother farm.
  • Access to this type of lots shall be through an easement (agrarian easement) that has a minimum width of 7 meters, has a direct connection to the public road, and is duly recorded on the property titles of the lots benefited and affected by it.
  • To authorize the approval of survey maps for this type of lots, the developer shall obtain an analysis of land use and land capacity prepared by a professional registered for such purposes with INTA (“Instituto Nacional de Innovación y Transferencia en Tecnología Agropecuaria”).
  • The minimum area of each parcel shall be 5000m2 in rural areas and 7000m2 within the Gran Área Metropolitana. As an exception, if the parcels have direct access to the public road, the lots may be as small as 900m2.
  • The construction activities on these types of parcels have several limitations. The maximum coverage is of 25% of the total parcel’s area, assigned as follows:
    • 10% of the area to one single-family home of up to 300m2 of construction and up to 2 floors; houses for workers and any additional structures related to the agrotourism activities that will be developed on the lot.
    • The remaining area (additional 15%) may be built with structures required for the farming activities, including storage, stables, greenhouses, water treatment plants, water reservoirs, troughs, fences, etc.

It is very important to take into consideration for already registered parcels, in which no constructions have been done, that for the purposes of obtaining building permits, the corresponding municipalities will have to interpret how the above-detailed regulations shall be applied, being that it is not clear what may be considered as structures related to “agrotourism”. This should be addressed in each case with the corresponding Municipality as the regulations do not include an express definition of agrotourism activities and/or authorized constructions or facilities.

We have discussed this particular matter with engineers working in different municipalities and they have concluded that in general terms the main objective should be to comply with the concept of agrarian use and/or agrotourism when a construction project on an agrarian parcel is filed for Municipal approval. It might be convenient to consider elements like a vegetable plot or garden, an area to grow fruit trees, develop permaculture, or any traditional crops are normally grown in the area of interest, or even some activities related to cattle, horses, goats, hen, and/or any products related with them. As long as
the project complies with the correct general concept some engineers have confirmed that they would not have an issue in approving construction plans for the main house including for example a pool which could be seen as a simple additional element of said main house as long as the coverage percentage is still being respected.

Can I contact Invicta Legal for additional inquiries?

Yes. We hope this information is useful to you in regard to understanding the process of purchasing properties in Costa Rica and feeling safe while doing a real estate investment in our country. We have always believed it is nice and pleasant for an investor to understand exactly what he is doing and keep control even being miles away from home.

At Invicta Legal, we are looking forward to providing you professional and efficient legal services. Each and every client is attended by a team supervised by one of the partners in order to guarantee top quality service. We have also created an important network with many other professionals such as architects, builders, accountants, appraisers, topographers, etc, that may be useful for our clients.

Invicta Legal Group

Invicta Legal Group

• Juvenal Sánchez – Partner  • Alberto Sáenz – Partner • Jorge González – Partner
Building EBC. 10th Floor.
San Rafael, Escazú
Tel: (506) 4036-5050    Fax: (506) 4036-5060 • Email: [email protected]