When you purchase or rent Costa Rica real estate, you might inherit Costa Rica utilities such as a water and power meter from someone who isn’t even alive anymore. Costa Ricans, when they purchase a property, they will leave the utility services like power and water in the former owner’s name (or several owners ago).
The power meter at my home is in my neighbor’s fathers’ name and the man passed away like 30 years ago. My water meter is in my neighbors’ name, who at one time owned the house, and so is my home phone line. As long as I pay my Costa Rica utilities’ bills on time, I’m out of trouble.
When you purchase Costa Rica real estate, there are a zillion things different than what you are used to, the more reason to hire a well-seasoned real estate agent to purchase property in Costa Rica and not purchase through For Sale By Owner.
But it is very easy to do all the wrong things, so I decided to even help the stubborn who insist on buying FSBO by telling how it change the Costa Rica utilities into your name.
Online or by phone
No, you cannot just pick up the phone and tell your phone or cable TV provider, who usually also provides internet services, for a new connection and it takes a lot longer than 15 minutes to do so. You cannot request the water company AyA or the power company CNFL to put the existing meter in your name, maybe one day in the future that will happen. Don’t even try to do it on the phone because you’ll end up getting mad at the wrong person.
There is a reason that most leave the Costa Rica utilities in the name of the former owner after purchasing Costa Rica real estate: the hassle. To request a new service, the utility company needs to take away the old meter and you might be without the service for a while. To get the service re-installed, you need to be on call on the property until the utility company sees fit to go install a new one.
The hassle free way
The hassle free way to go is to leave the Costa Rica utilities as they are. Don’t do anything, just keep paying the bills the way they are.
How to request a change in the name
First, you’ll have to make sure the former owner of the Costa Rica real estate either cancels the utility services (but then there will be no power and water in the house for days, maybe even weeks), or have the former owner accompany you in this diligence. You can also, at closing, request a special power of attorney from the owner, so you can do it all in one visit.
To make the change, you will need to go to a branch of the Costa Rica utilities companies with the following documents:
- Proof of ownership of the property – certification of the property by notary public or from RPN Digital. The certification cannot be older than 30 days.
- Your official ID (a driver’s license is not an official ID in Costa Rica), which should be your valid Dimex residency card.
- If the property is owned by a corporation (S.A.), a power of attorney stating you have the power to request the service (special power or general power of attorney).
How do you request for Costa Rica utilities
Most Costa Rica real estate buyers do not think about the Costa Rica utilities until it is too late. Many people who decide to live in Costa Rica do not bother to get legal residency until they find out you need to do so to be able to open a bank account or to get the utilities in there name. These are the steps to undertake depending if you have residency or not.
If you are not a resident
If you are not a resident in Costa Rica, meaning you do not have your valid Dimex residency card, you will not be able to get the utility in your name. You will do well by thinking about this issue before you purchase the property.
If you are not a resident, you should purchase the property in the name of a corporation. Read up on corporation tax, before you do.
Have your closing attorney give his runner a special power of attorney to get the utilities in your name.
If you are a resident
If you are a resident in Costa Rica and do have a valid Dimex residency card, you have two options:
1. Purchase the property in the name of a corporation and make sure you have the power of attorney to request the service in the name of the corporation.
2. Purchase the property in your personal name.
Make sure the seller, before closing, pays the outstanding utility bills and brings a copy to the closing so you will not only know in whose name the utilities are registered but also the location number (NIS), so you will have the necessary information to get the meter changed into your name. When you go visit the utility company you probably have to stand in line for a while, so bring a book with you.
Existing Cable TV agreements should be cancelled by the home owner before the closing, so you can just get a new cable TV connection and internet service router in your name. This is much simpler than the other utilities. The cable TV agreement depends on your choice of cable TV channels and the internet speed you desire anyway. A non-resident will have to pay a higher deposit for the router than a resident.
Our real estate agents will make sure that at closing, you will receive all the necessary documents to be able to make any necessary changes to the utility services. Contact us now for professional assistance.
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