Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
Phil Baker’s article in the Monday issue was of great interest to me, as it should be to anyone contemplating real property purchases here in Costa Rica. Phil and I are well acquainted and have shared mutually beneficial information regarding our respective professional specialties for several years. The accuracy and veracity of the article can be accepted at face value. It is difficult for the newcomer to fully appreciate the breadth, depth and ubiquity of corruption and turpitude extant in this simultaneously
strange, beautiful, marvelous and dangerous country.
The comments on lawyers are particularly relevant. To quote The Sage of Survival in Costa Rica: “An honest lawyer is one who will do crooked things on your behalf.” I have had to recover property in a forceful manner, and, although I don’t recommend it, the ability to do so should be in one’s quiver. Additionally, you should do the following things:
1.) Visit your property personally and conduct inspections every 29 days at a minimum.
2.) At the Registro Nacional or other location, buy a personeria juridica that identifies you as the controlling party regarding the property in question. Do this every 90 days.
3.) Learn to enter the Web site of the Registro and to enter the identifying numbers of the property to verify lack of movement. This is easy and should be done as often as possible.
4.) Get to know the local cops. The Fuerza Pública will evict precaristas (squatters, although this word appears to be Costa Rican as opposed to Spanish in general use) at times, and under certain conditions. Help them out from time to time. I have bought parts for patrol cars, provided free firearms training and educational material from time to time and, asking nothing in return, consider this an investment in my community’s security, not bribery.
There are more skills that experience will bring, but familiarizing yourself with the basics above will go a long way. On a personal note, my thanks to Phil Baker. About a year ago, in a state of near total exhaustion after 20 hours of being surrounded in unfriendly territory and managing to prevail in the re-taking of my six hectares in Guanacaste all alone at the age of 70, Phil Baker’s voice on the phone was a welcome sound. Thanks, Phil, and good luck.