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Property liens are crucial elements in the realm of real estate in Costa Rica. Understanding their nature and impact is essential for both property owners and potential buyers. In this article, we will explain the different types of property liens that may affect a property in Costa Rica and what they mean for those involved.

There are two main types of property liens based on how they are applied: consensual (voluntary) and non-consensual (involuntary). A consensual lien is one that you actively agree to, typically when applying for a loan, such as a mortgage or line of credit. It will appear on your credit report but will not harm your credit score if you continue making payments. A non-consensual lien is imposed on your property without your consent. This occurs when you fail to make payments on a loan and local laws come into effect.

Below are some of the most common types of liens by activity, as well as the parties that can enforce them:

  1. Mortgage Lien:
    Mortgages usually start as consensual liens, but if payments are not made and the lender has the legal right to take possession of your home and sell it to cover their costs. This type of property lien is most likely to result in foreclosure.
  2. Tax Liens:
    Tax liens are taxes imposed by the government on the property. These may include property taxes, municipal taxes, real estate transfer taxes, among others. It is important to be aware of these liens and ensure compliance with corresponding tax obligations to avoid penalties and legal issues.
  3. Embargoes and Liens:
    Embargoes and liens are imposed on a property as a result of unpaid debts, pending judgments, or other legal obligations. These can affect the ability to sell or transfer the property until underlying issues are resolved. Thorough due diligence is essential before acquiring a property to avoid unpleasant surprises related to embargoes or liens.
  4. Easements:
    Easements are another type of lien that affects the property, whether in the form of right-of-way easements, light and view easements, or access easements. These liens grant rights to third parties over the property and may restrict its use or affect its value. It is crucial to carefully review any existing easements when considering the purchase of a property.
  5. Rights of Use and Occupation:
    Rights of use and occupation can constitute liens on a property, especially in areas where the right of land occupation by indigenous communities or local groups is recognized. These rights may limit the owner’s ability to use the property in certain ways or even to sell it.

Property liens in Costa Rica may vary in nature and scope, but it is fundamental for property owners and buyers to fully understand them. Before acquiring a property, it is highly recommended to conduct thorough research with your attorney to avoid unpleasant surprises in the future. An attorney can review the details of the lien and advise you on the risks and measures you can take to protect yourself. Remember that you can purchase a house with a mortgage, but at the time of closing, cancel the mortgage and request the attorney to lift the mortgage so that your property is free of mortgage liens.

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