Costa Rica Real Estate Lawyer

Beach Front

Among other natural attractions, Costa Rica is most popular for its pristine beaches offering promises of golden sunsets and the soothing sound of waves crashing on nearby cliffs. It is but natural that a huge percentage of investors flocking this tropical paradise are those looking for a peaceful beachside bungalow to unwind. This list includes retirees or even those looking to get away from noisy cities and the likes. Keeping the safety of those staying at the shore line in mind, several restrictions are imposed on the matter of land ownership and use on the beach front. The other and more ethical reason is that of agreeing to the fact that beaches cannot be bought since these belongs to the public and no one, not even the law has the authority to rob this pleasure from them.

It was in the 1970's that a law pertaining to the ownership of land along Costa Rica's beaches was passed. Owing to this, in most cases real estate property on beach front is untitled. In Costa Rica, the ownership of the shoreline is governed by the Maritime Zone Law also known as the Ley Sobre la Zona Maritimo Terrestre, which restricts the possession beach front property.

As per this law the first 200 meters of beach front starting from the mean high tide markers is solely owned by the government. Of the total of 200 meters, the first 50 are earmarked as public zones and nobody is allowed to posses or exercise control over this area. The remaining 150 meters of land can be leased to private individuals by the government by means of the local municipal government.

This Maritime Zone Law also exercises restrictions on foreign ownership of beach front property too. For instance, a foreigner must necessarily establish five years of residency in Costa Rica in order to be able to own more than 49% of a lease in the Maritime zone. Foreigners however can evade this law by assigning the lease in the name of a corporation that can either be wholly foreign owned or else by assigning 51% of the land's ownership on records to a citizen of Costa Rica.

The silver lining though, is that only 80% to 85% of the shore line is governed by the Maritime Zone Law. In case the real estate property in question is located on the 15% or 20% of the coast line that does not fall within the Maritime Zone, then it is possible to develop the property without having to file a zoning or regulating plan. However, if these developments are part of the tourism industry it must be approved by ICT or the Tourism Board of Costa Rica; construction of any sort also requires building permits.

Hence, it is important to take a thorough look at the Zoning Laws that are applicable to the area in which the real estate property of your interest lies. So also, a careful study is always required when considering buying beach front property in Costa Rica. We can help you with this activity!