Leases and Rental Agreements

Understand the different elements of the tenancy agreement and the obligations of the landlord and tenant when renting property in Costa Rica...

By law, a rental agreement (contrato de alquiler) is for three years, but in practice they are usually from six to 12 months, or on a monthly basis.

Documents required for renting a property depend on the owner. Costa Ricans and long-term renters may be asked to prove that they have a job or a reliable source of income with a bank statement or pay slip.

All rental accommodation should have a rental agreement to protect both tenant and landlord. This contract should include the following information:

  • Rental period
  • Rental cost and payment day
  • Amenities included - for example, utilities or security service
  • Correct names and contact information of both parties

Both tenant and landlord should have a signed copy of the agreement. Foreigners should not have any difficulty renting a property in their own name, although they may be expected to pay a higher price than a Costa Rican.

Depending on the type of rental (vacation rental or long-term rental), properties can be rented for one month to a year or more, and the cost of the rental changes accordingly. For example, a short-term vacation rental during high season (October to May) is considerably more expensive than a long-term rental in a non-tourist area.

The notice period, which is generally one month, should be included in the rental agreement.


It is advisable that utilities are negotiated as part of the rent for two reasons. Firstly, utilities cannot currently be paid online and paying them often requires standing in long queues at the bank or market. Secondly, utilities can be very costly.