In Costa Rica evicting a tenant from a rental property could at times be a daunting task. The tenant would play the legal system and invoke ridiculous arguments just to extend the process and remain in the rental property, rent free, for years.
In Costa Rica there are more than 3,000 eviction cases filed each year. In order to expedite the process the legislature has approved the Express Eviction Law (Ley de Monitorio Arrendaticio). This new law is aimed at putting some teeth into the Costa Rica Tenancy Law that has been in effect since 1995.
In addition to expediting the eviction for non payment of rent the law allows allows the filing of an eviction if the rental contract required the tenant to pay utilities and condominium fees and those items have not been paid by the tenant.
Once the eviction lawsuit is filed the Judge will give the tenant 15 days to present their defense. If the tenant fails to respond then the eviction will proceed. The Express Eviction Law also reduces the appeals process in the eviction case. In the past the tenant would create any frivolous argument to appeal every ruling and thus delay the process. Another requirement under the new law is that tenant must deposit any back rent owed into the Court depository if he wants to contest the process. If the tenant fails to deposit the back rent then the eviction order will be issued without allowing any defenses to be filed.
Another modification is that the Express Eviction process will be by way of oral hearings instead of the traditional Costa Rica legal process which previously required filing written petitions which then had to be resolve in writing by a Judge before the case could proceed. Under the new system there will be a preliminary hearing before the judge where the parties will present oral arguments and then the Judge will issue the ruling.