A frequently asked question from clients is if the utility costs are included in rentals.
It’s a great question because the utility costs can increase significantly. So the utility costs can cut into your budget tremendously.
The correct answer to this question is that sometimes it is, and sometimes it is not. The inclusion of the utility costs depends on the term of the rental.
There are a few important things that you need to know:
- The utility companies in Costa Rica bill by the month. BUT, the customer doesn’t receive the invoice until a month later.
- Changing the utilities into someone else’s name is not as easy as in other countries.
- Each utility usually has only one provider (this depends on the area you live), except for cell phone and cable TV/internet connections.
- You need to be a Costa Rican citizen or a resident to be able to acquire the connection of a utility. Only the Internet and Cable TV are an exception to that.
- If the utility gets cut off for non-payment, it can take days to reconnect, and only the customer can request this personally.
Short-term or vacation rentals
The utility costs are ALWAYS included in short-term or vacation rentals.
A landlord can’t keep track of the utility costs for each tenant. Therefore, a percentage of the rent is used to cover these costs.
Short-term in Costa Rica means a couple of days, a week, a month, or a few months. It means anything shorter than a year. Renting for a year or more is a long-term rental.
The utility costs are NEVER included in the rent for long-term rentals. The only service included in the rent is the garbage pick-up. The reason is that this service is charged by the municipality, together with the property tax.
Long-term rent in Costa Rica means a minimum of 1 year, although the law indicates a minimum of 3 years. Most lease agreements are written up as a minimum of 1 year, extendable for 2 more years if both parties agree. By law, though, the tenant has the right to stay the 3 years.
Long-term utility trivia
- Electricity – The electric meter is always in the name of the property owner. Usually, the landlord will give the NIS number of the power service so that the tenant can pay online.
- Water – The same as with the electric bill.
- Cable TV & Internet – Few landlords connect cable TV and internet for a tenant. The reason is that this depends on the internet speed and TV package the tenant wants. Non-residents can request the service in their name. They do pay a higher security deposit than residents.
- Phone – Very few rental homes have a phone included anymore. Bring your cell phone or buy a Costa Rican cell phone line.
Always ask your agent before looking at a property if the utility costs are included in the rent or not. Also, check your lease agreement on what it says about utility costs before you sign.
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