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SumItUp

Strategy for keeping squatters off of a property

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Does anyone have any experience dealing with squatters on large rural properties? What are some solutions? We have been looking at various sized fincas while on this trip. Today, we saw one that the current owner had just finalized a court issue with some previous squatters. While we were viewing it today, there was someone else on the property.

 

If you are living here full-time, it is not an issue. If you are planning to be out of Costa Rica for 6 or more months, it could cost you your property.

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When I lived in Quepos, a tico and an expat pointed out trees that were painted white on the bottom - as a sign to discourage squatters. I gather this is one reason why rental properties can be found for so cheap in CR - homeowners want someone on their property.

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it will cost you money and then you cannot be sure if the people you pay to watch will do a good job or just take your money. The laws to allow squatting had good intentions but even the government has fell victim of the law. The railroad right of way from San Jose to Port Limon has many squatters on it. Would you want to live on that right of way, those people do not either but are often aware that it is an investment in the future. There investment of time and the gamble pays dividends out of your pocket. Now the government will have to pay these folk to vacate the land and for improvements when and if the train ever does start that route. The more stuff you own the more you are a victim to it and people that will take advantage. We have land in Belize this has not been a legal problem but any improvements that you do are open for all to enjoy during your absence. I can walk portions of that property but some others I cannot due to under growth and a langue, pond so even being on a large property you may not see the people 1/4 mile away. Sorry that we purchased the land. Learned from my father that you should own things as of his experience growing up in rural NC. The rules may have changed.

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I don't think there are any "guarantees" that you will be able to keep squatters off your property if you are an absentee owner. Unless, of course, you want to build a big fence around it like it's a prison and have a couple of full-time, well-paid guards - preferably people who do not live in the area.

 

It would depend on a lot of factors, including how long you plan to be away from the property, how often you would visit, the "attractiveness" of the property, your neighbors or Costa Ricans you know in the area. Neighbors may or may not be able to help you because of the local scene: they have to live with each other all the time whereas you are just a part-time gringo. There could also be threats involved which would put anyone off, including a paid guard or "manager."

 

I would not recommend buying property here and thinking you can just let it sit for a few years until you are ready to do something. If you cannot at least visit regularly - say 4-5 times a year - then it could be very iffy.

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PaulaV trees that are painted white at the bottom are covered with an insecticide to keep insects from feeding on the bark. Possibly your friends in Quepos were teasing you...

SumItUp, if squatters have recently been a problem for this landowner the 'problem' will not go away quietly, and since they are still around,I suggest you look somewhere else.

Edited by costaricafinca

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the only thing I know of that several friends do is to hire a caretaker - make sure (1) they are honest and reliable and (2) you have a written contract with them w/ pay and duties stated, drawn up by a lawyer

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A paid caretaker can work well under some circumstances. But it depends a lot on the area and the situation.

 

There are caretakers who have just left the area but still collected the money -- a contract really buys you nothing. If they leave and violate the contract, first of all - how will you know? And second - if they leave and violate the contract and squatters are there when you return, then ?? And third, if the caretaker leaves and violates the contract, what is your recourse?

 

Having a contract may make you feel all warm and fuzzy but unless you have taken their firstborn son as hostage, it might mean little or nothing.

 

If a caretaker lives in the area and has family in the area and is threatened by squatters or potential squatters, he may leave your property and never look back. It would not be worth it to him to endanger himself and his family for some gringo, pay or not. If he is honest, he will let you know that he is leaving.

 

You also have to think about what kind of person would become a caretaker. I have seen in a lot of rural areas where farmers do this. They may have some "down time" during the day to visit the property every day or every other day and check things out, especially if it's a close neighbor.

 

Of course, if there is a house on the property, that's a different thing. Now, you could find that the person taking care of your house has cut down quite a few of the beautiful trees you had there and planted yuca. What recourse would you have?

 

As I said, it really depends on the area and the circumstances. If someone is looking at property where nearby property has had a problem with squatters, I would not touch it if you are going to be an absentee owner. Absentee ownership is a crap shoot, really. It can be done successfully and is being done successfully but I'm just putting out some things that might happen.

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