martes, 20 de octubre de 2015

Five most important things to do when buying real estate in Guatemala

5 most important things
to do when buying  property
 in Guatemala

Guatemala is probably not your usual investment destinación. Unless you are a Guatemalan expatriated or have relatives that are Guatemalan you will have Little or no knowledge about how to buy property in Guatemala. Investing in real estate in a foreign country is a serious mater.

But for a foreigner deciding to buy real estate here might be a challenge and a whole new experience.

-       First thing you need to work with a Realtor.
      An authorised realtor that has a proper license to represent you.  Yes it does exist in Guatemala. Realtor profession is regulated and it is your best guarantee against scammer, unethical and unprofessional ones. You will hear of people that have managed to buy without a realtor but it all depends of your level of investment and willingness to take financial risk. The bigger the investment the more you want to be protected from any bad surprised. Don 't hesitate to check with the Chamber of Realtor of Guatemala for professional ones.

Why? Because he will  represent you and working with non legal realtor might turn out to be a nightmare if anything goes wrong.Now a realtor speaking your language is a must as you might not fully dominating the local language.

-       Second get legal assessment with a lawyer – notary that does regularly real estate transactions.  And preferably one that speaks your language.
In Guatemala lawyers are also notaries and some decided to work more the notary part of their professions, others the lawyer part and the gran majority both. Laws do change and a lawyer not versed regularly in real estate transaction might miss some important information. In Guatemala real estate has complex consequences better to be well informed.

-       Third you have to understand that you will be confronted with a diversity of way of owner ship that might disconcert you. In  Guatemala you will encounter several way of owning real estate as for example..:  land lease from  the government through the OCRET office, proper register titled backed up by the government, rights of possession that you can  compare to squatters rights and some times comunal land…
Depending the status of the property you are buying you will have to decide if it is worth your money to rely on less than a proper registered title. Now if you buy in urban áreas most probably you will encounter proper registered title.

-       Fourth consult with your notary which limitations can affect your property.  Guatemala doesn’t have a lot of institutions having a say on the use of a property but they do have some like OCRET, MARN, CONAP, Consejo de Protection de la Antigua (if you buy in Antigua Guatemala)…  So for example if you buy on ocean or lake front you will find out that the lease you will get from the government  only lease you the land up to 20 mts from the waterfront as you have to leave 20 mts of public space. If you buy in certaines áreas or steep hills you might be in an área of mudslides and classified by CONRED (the Government Agency for Civil Protection) as inhabitable  and therefore might not get the building permit you seek. If you buy in a city with strong colonial history like Antigua or in the Center of  Quetzaltenango then you will find out that you can’t do what you want with the property you are trying to acquire. Know what you are buying and what you can do with your real estate project.

-       Fifth under which legal form you want to acquire your property: single owner, under a Guatemalan C Company, a foreign company… Depending your choice, it will influence  your taxes during ownership, at the moment of sell, or for your heirs if you plan to inherit it to them.Not being familiar with the Guatemalan taxes frame  you need to get proper advices in order to optimize the fiscal impact of owning real estate.

viernes, 28 de agosto de 2015

New Algae bloom in Lake Atitlan

Since 2009 Lake Atitlan had not experiment a blooming of this importance.. But these last two years have been particularly hot and dry. The temperature of the lake has been rising and currently above 23o C which is very hot for a lake of this size at this altitude.

 Amsclae the high authority in charge of the quality of the water in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala has issued the following report:

Solola, August 19, 2015

One concern of the institutions involved in the conservation and study of Lake Atitlan, is the deterioration of the same, which leads to the proliferation of algae, and in particular may result in a flowering of cyanobacteria. On Monday August 3rd of this year, a proliferación cyanobacteria was reported, which was later determined to be caracterized as flourishing level (greater than 2 million cells / liter). Following this event, the Department of Research and Environmental Quality Authority for the Sustainable Management of the Basin of Lake Atitlan and its surroundings (AMSCLAE) in coordination with the University del Valle of Guatemala highlands campus (CEA - UVG) conducted one limnological sampling on 5 and 10 August. During monitoring, water samples were taken for analysis, which was performed on the two institutions mentioned.According to the analysis of samples of phytoplankton, three genera of dominant  cyanobacteria were encountered and Limnoraphis Dolichospermun and were accompanied by Microcystis, all of  the Phylum Cyanobacteria. The analysis performed on a sample taken on August 17 determined that only
Limnoraphis predominated. Counting and identifying the microscope does not determine the presence or absence of toxicity, therefore Asociación Friends of Lake Atitlan sent water samples from the lake abroad (University of California, Davis and University of Wausau) in coordination with AMSCLAE, UVG  - IARNA and for the analysis of cyanotoxins and is awaiting the results. If it turns out that this blooming produces cianotoxinas, this could represent a serious threat to the health of the population.
The high
temperature of the environment and water  due to prolonged heat wave, and the availability of nutrients in the lake, then the income from runoff of the rainy season from May to July to Lake Atitlan and the steady income from sewage, create conditions conducive to the development of phytoplankton.
Importantly, this is not the first flowering of cyanobacteria in Lake Atitlan. In 2009 has been
the strongest  flourishing in the lake to date, and from that year was reported, there have been other smaller blooms. In 2009 and 2013 samples were sent for toxicological analysis and found negative. The increase today is the strongest  since 2009 and is considered to not be the last.

AMSCLAE with the support of national and international scientific community, the College of Engineers Guatema (IGC), the Guatemalan Association of Sanitary Engineering (AGISA), the Regional School of Sanitary Engineering (ERIS) and non-governmental environmental organizations and government present in the department of Solola, are promoviend since mid-2012, the development of a comprehensive master management of sewage and drinking water in the municipalities of Lake Atitlan Basin plan. Funding to execute this plan come from a grant from the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AECID) and are being managed by the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB). Unfortunately, the plan was stalled. The development and implementation of the plan is INFOM sole and absolute responsibility and the risk of losing the donation runs.

General recommendations for prevention to the population1. Do not be alarmed, these recommendations are specifically preventive. 

2. Do not drink the water directly from the lake ..
3. If fish are eaten, should be cleaned properly, removing the skin, gills and
internal organs.. 

4. It is not advisable to swim in the lake and recreational activities in it as long as this danger. If you do it is at your own risk.
 5. Do not wash or irrigate vegetables with this type of water. 
6. Basin communities which  take their drinking water directly from the lake, must: 
    Start storing rainwater for consumption when it rains.
    Filtering of the water with carbon filters to make it suitable for consumption.
7. Do not get in the water to remove cyanobacteria, that does not help.  

     Draw it stimulates their growth. 
8. Do not perform cleanups of lake water for the duration of the flowering 
9. Be pending AMSCLAE releases for information on the results of monitoring prepared by the relevant institutions.
Therefore, the departmental coordinator for disaster risk reduction (CODRED) institutional declares yellow alert cianaobacteria outcropping on Lake Atitlan.

Any questions

Atitlan Solutions is an active member of Lake Atitlan Friends of the lake Asociation always looking for solutions to contribute to a better lake. Right now we have a fundraising going through Indiegogo to equipped a laboratory to study the lake scientifically.. feel free to contribute at the following link.

lunes, 13 de julio de 2015

5 important things to know about OCRET

One of the biggest issue in Guatemala and particularly in the lake area is the absence of cadastre.
So currently there are several situations related to this.
First of all  OCRET, which by law would be the biggest land manager around the lake, only work from the legal frame given by the Constitution. Which means that for this office any land , on the lake for example, included in the 200 mts from the water front has to be leased from the government. But OCRET currently doesn't have a clear knowledge of what is clearly land government and what is registered land (clear title registered before 1956 in the registry of the property).
They are building their cadastre from the lease request made by particular or companies around the lake. And it happens that sometimes the OCRET pretension is challenged by locals authorities. Which is the case for Santiago Atitlan, ( it has a clear title registered it seems in 1920 that includes all the water front ) in discussion  San Marcos La Laguna and Santa Cruz as they seems to be as well challenging the OCRET hold.
Some some might wonder if it is proper to register or not.
Well my recommendation, under the current situation,  is to register with OCRET.
Why ? Because as foreigners it is the only way to secure your land rights particularly.  And the cost associated with the registration is not that high that shouldn't be undertake.
Now what will happen if it happens that the land is not under OCRET umbrella like it is happening in Santiago?
Well the current solution is that OCRET will hand the contract to the Municipality and this will have to respect the terms. Which is an important security as at least for the next 20 or more years of your contract you know what will be your status.
At the moment nobody knows what will be the legal form that will articulate the "rights of possession" that ones acquired on a land belonging to a big registered property owned by a Municipal government. The OCRET contract will at least give you a structure.

The other big challenge with OCRET definition of the 200 mts is where is the 200 mts limit it is known by everybody that the lake level is fluctuating over times. So if during the last 40 years it has been going down, opening new space for colonisation by chalets , public beaches... since Hurracan Stan the lake has been coming up substantially and the trend seems to be since 7 years, on the rise.
Which move way upp, the upper limit of the 200 mts particularly in the areas where the shore has a gentle slope like San Juan La Laguna, San Pablo, San Marcos La Laguna.
So a piece of land that have been out of the OCRET hold, now might be under the OCRET law.

I'm strongly advocating to find a technical solution to control the level and the easiest solution would be to put an over flow as the ones you have in a bathtub . The easiest way would be to do it in San Lucas Toliman. This will allows to define the highest level that the lake can reach and allows the villages and the waterfront owner to invest in infrastructure that will last. Not as it is happening currently. Just remember the numerous brand new piers paid by INGUAT that ended up under water.

Make sure to like this article if you do and share it on your social network.

martes, 7 de julio de 2015

OCRET history


I have found this interesting  historical compilation on the laws and governmental agreement regulating this very particular areas of the Guatemalan territory that are called Areas del Estado.

In 1894, ending the nineteenth century and  Reina Barrios being the President of the republic, it is 
important to make reference to this historical period, as this government is interested in regulating
reserve areas and appear in this year's the first records regarding the legal regulation of these areas.

The first laws were published about the mentioned areas were performed by means of decrees, agreements and regulations. These were issued by the President and first were regulated areas 
comprising the shores of the Atlantic Ocean and navigable rivers, with margins established in the decrees.

Later, in the 1965 Constitution, the areas of reserves are regulated , establishing constituting the areas and their margins . But it is up to 1973, when the Congress of the Republic issued Decree 35-73 Law Regulating Reserves nation, constitutes the first ordinary law that specified in it, these areas.


A summary of the different laws that historically occurs have regulated the areas of state reserves, starting with the 1945 Constitution, since this is the first constitution that regulated the assets of the nation.

Political Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala, 1945 

On March 11, 1945 was promulgated the new Constitution by the democratic government that  was established in Guatemala, after leaving the military dictatorship that had ruled one after the other one the country. After the overthrow of General Jorge Ubico, the revolutionary junta was established in 1944 to make way later by election, to the President of the Republic Mr. Juan Jose Arevalo Bermejo.

During the administration of President Arevalo Bermejo was enacted first Democratic constitution, in which public assets were stipulated; Article 89 stated: "The goods of the Nation: goods  of domain public: 

  1. The waters of marine areas that surround the areas of the Republic; 
  2. the shores of lakes and rivers navigable or floatable; 
  3. rivers of any kind serving limit the Republic, 
  4. the waterfalls of industrial use, in the form determined by law, which likewise establish the condition and extensions dominion over all goods; Which they are state property and city; 
  5. the terrestrial maritime area situated on the national territory. Transit and use, are regulated by law and international treaties; 
  6. Revenue tax and municipal originating and public law;  
  7. The underground of the nation, hydrocarbon deposits and minerals; 
  8. All organic and inorganic substances prescribed by law; 
All other existing assets in the country that are specified in laws or non-private property, individually or collectively "

In this Constitution, no State reservation areas are specifically contemplated, however, it established which are the assets of the nation, which are public property. In this respect, this Constitution referred to the banks of lakes and navigable rivers, which serve as the basis for then specifically reserves were regulated areas.

Political Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala, 1956 

After the overthrow of General Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, it was repealed Constitution of 1945 and created a new one, which left no force progress in the democratic constitution of 1945, especially with regard to the agrarian reform. Although in terms of assets of the nation was concerned, they do had no change.With this event, General Carlos Castillo Armas. assumes the presidency of the Republic,this de facto government promulgated a new constitution on 2d February 1956. In accordance with Article 214  it established the goods of the Nation, which almost completely copied what regulated the former and only add what is  related to monuments and archaeological relics.

Political Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala, 1965 

This Constitution was promulgated on September 15, 1965 and for the first time in constitutional matters  the areas of the State  are specifically  regulated. Because as indicated above, in the constitutions that preceded it, only the assets of the nation were regulated.

Areas of state reserves are regulated in this Constitution in the Article 130, which stated
"The nation retains:

  1.  title of a land strip three kilometers along the oceans, starting from the top line of tides;
  2.  two hundred meters around the lakeshores; 
  3. one hundred meters each side of the banks of the navigable rivers; 
  4.  fifty meters around fountains and springs where the waters are born to take to the cities orpopulations. Exceptions to the reservations expressed:
 1. The estate located in urban areas;
 2nd. The property on which the registered rights exist Land Registry before 9 February 1894.
 3rd. The property on registered rights exist in the same record, prior to March 1, 1956, provided that the State does not have possession of them.
The foreigners  need Executive authorization to acquire real property covered by the exceptions of subsections 2nd. and 3rd. having the right state
preferably around special case "

Political Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala, 1985 
Since the first Constitution was promulgated in a democratic government 1945, analyzing the force that took up the 1965 Constitution, each one of them was in effect about 10 years.

After the Constitution of 1965, to the present, they passed 20 years, ie that within 40 years four constitutions were enacted, creating the mentioned constitutional changes, the existence of a huge uncertainty legal, harmful from every point of view for economic and social development.

The  current Constitution, had no change in relation to the areas of State reserves, as this almost completely copied what regulated the Constitution 1965, only the term nation was changed by the State and is omitted except that established that goods on which duty was entered in the Land Registry before February 9, 1894 were exempt from the reserve areas.

Decrees, agreements and regulations that have historically governed the
areas of land reserves of the State of Guatemala.

In the late 19th century begins with the legal regulation of reserve areas, which as stated above were published by laws, agreements and regulations. In accordance with the Laws of reserve areas
Guatemala territorial State made by the Office of Control Areas Territorial state reserves (OCRET) is presented chronologically the summary of each as follows:

a. Executive palace agreement whereby the State land reserves
for public use on the banks of Lake Izabal, in the riverbanks inland and on the coast of the Atlantic. Through this agreement, the State reserved for public use, the domain of vacant lands within the following areas: 200 meters wide, numbered around and from the shore of Lake Izabal, 100 meters from each side of the river navigable, 500 meters wide on the shores of the Atlantic; which was published by the Executive palace in Guatemala City on 24 November 1890. One of the features found in this agreement, is that only the Atlantic coast is considered, as well as Lake Izabal and generally navigable rivers, leaving off the Pacific coast and the other lakes.

b. Decree 483 Agrarian Law. By this decree was increased to 1.500 meters wide, starting from the top edge of the beaches of the ocean, provided that any individual could acquire the property they land and they could only be leased these areas by the Ministry of Development. The State also 200 meters wide, starting from the edge of lakes and 100 meters on the shore of navigable rivers, this was issued on February 9, 1894.

c. Regulation of Decree 483, Agrarian Law. About lease of land the government reserves. This regulation regulates the grounds that are on the coast or beach by ocean and shoreline of lakes and navigable rivers, which could be leased to private individuals up to a horse, the lease would be for a definite time, these could be terminated by the State under the country's needs, because of security, war or public order or if the government will project open ports, strong rise up or construyere any work on the leased land. This was issued in the Executive Palace, February 20 1894.

d. Provision for the payment for land lease grown within the strip that the state reserves under the law, dated December 13, 1920 the President of the Republic.

e. Amendment of Articles 1, 13 and 14 of the Regulations of Decree Law 483
Land, to lease public lands that the government reserves. With this reform the State was to lease to individuals or Corporations reserve areas. To grant these areas, lease should be held between the Ministry of Agriculture and the particular. In these cases the government was empowered to fix both the extent of these lands, and the price of rent.

The difference between the above items and refurbished items, lies in previously the government could give these areas a lease up to 1500 meters wide at the edge of the ocean and Articles
renovated extension of land could provide the Government lease was a discretionary activity. Also the lease of such areas should take place with the Ministry of Agriculture and not to the Ministry of Development.

f. Decree No. 2144, the President of the Republic, Jorge Ubico. Term to formalize the lease of land forming Subject to the nation, except the 20-meter strip on the margins of all
waterway, dated September 26, 1938. Under this decree, the government gave it a period of two months to those persons who were occupying the strip of 20 meters on the edge of the fairway and had his room in such places. As well as those who have industrial plants, buildings or occasional use to move to another place. All those who are found outside this belt should hold the lease of these areas within four months.

g. Decree No. 2369 of President Jorge Ubico.
Requirements to acquire or dispose of real or personal rights and to leasing of the property were within the band of 15 kilometers from the border, and others who constitute reserves of state and
Peten department, dated May 9, 1940. This decree stated that only the nation municipalities,
State institutions and Guatemalan origin, could acquire real or personal property rights in whole or in part are found within the range of 15 kilometers wide all along the land border or a fringe like inside the zones maritime. Also ruled that provision of the buildings that made up the department
Peten and to those found at 1500 meters or less than Sarstún river. It could be leased these areas, provided that counted with the authorization from the Ministry of Agriculture.

h. Decree No. 2421 of the President of the Republic Jorge Ubico.
The leases of land reserves are the nation could be held only with Guatemalan origin, the utilities to act under contracts or concessions, by the President Jorge Ubico, dated August 22 were exempt 1940

i. Decree number 2477 by legislative decree number 2421 Government Decree establishing the requirements to be observed for leases of land that constituted permanent reserve of the nation, dated March 15, 1941, by the President of the Republic Jorge was approved.

j. Decree No. 35-73 of the Congress of Guatemala. Law
Reserves Regulatory Office. This law consisting of 18 articles, was published on July 19, 1973, in the government of President Carlos Arana Osorio, it is the first law regulating the Nation Reservation. It was the first ordinary law to regulate specific areas of reserves, which will take place in the course of this work.

k. Regulations to the Regulatory Law of the Nation Reservation. Agreement
Agreement gubernatorial number M 35-73. This regulation had 66 items and developed the Regulatory Law of the Nation Reservation. It was delivered at the National Palace in Guatemala on 24 October 1973.

l. Responsible Regulation Control Office of the Nation Reserves
(OCREN). This regulation was comprised of 45 articles, which established the operation and the bodies responsible for that office, it was created by agreement of the Ministry of Agriculture, the National Palace in Guatemala City on October 8, 1974, in the government President Carlos AranaOsorio.

m. Decree No. 11-80 of the Congress of Guatemala. Law
Regulatory Areas Nation Reserves This law had only 20 articles, was published in the city of Guatemala dated March 20, 1980, in the government of President Fernando Romeo Lucas Garcia.

n. Decree No. 126-97 of the Congress of Guatemala. Law
Regulatory Areas Territorial Reserves State Guatemala. That is the current law and regulates areas of land reserves of the state, has 36 articles and was published on December 26, 1997. OCRET

o. Regulation Regulatory Areas Act Territorial Reserves
State of Guatemala, Government Agreement 432-2002 implements Law Regulatory Areas of Territorial Reserves of the State, dated 6 November 2002. This regulation lays down the basic provisions of the Bureau of State Reserve Areas and the procedures for the exercise of rights on reserve areas established by law.

p. General Tariff Bureau of State Reserve Areas -
OCRET-, contained in Governmental Agreement number 390-2005 of 22 2,005 August. This tariff regulates matters relating to payment for field inspection conducted by the technical department of the Bureau of areas -OCRET- State Reserve, certification of documents, cost of different forms of requests for lease extension and assignment of leasehold and with respect to fees for transfer of rights

q. Amendments to General Tariff Bureau of  State Reserve Areas
 -OCRET-, contained in Governmental Agreement number 390-2005 of

dated 22 August 2005. With this reform the collection was modified by field inspection conducted by the technical department of the Bureau of State Reserve Areas - OCRET-.

viernes, 26 de junio de 2015

What about Decreto 42-2010 Law to promote internal tourism

Holidays and Decree 42-2010

If you are leaving in Guatemala as tourist, expat or retired you might sometimes wonder what is appropriate to do when holidays fall during the week. You might don't know but there is a Governmental Decree which was intended to help internal tourism allowing companies to move the day off closer to the week end in order for the workers to benefit of long week end. The idea is if people have long week end they will have time to visit tourist destination and this way improves the local economy.
So next week the Dia del Ejercito, 30th of june  (Day of the Army) , falls on tueday. According the decree 42-2010 , article #2 when the holiday falls on a tuesday it will be taken on the previous monday.
So in this particular case your care taker, employee that work everyday should come to work on tuesday and rest on monday. Unless you make other arrangements but you have to document it.

Now the decree says as well that if it falls on wednesday or thursday it will be taken the inmediate following friday.
If it falls on saturday or sunday no changes are made.

Now here is a reminder of the hollidays of Guatemala  in 2015 for the one who are not sure to know them .

now the decree also in the same article number two as the following exceptions.
The days One of january, thursday, friday and saturday Santos, 15 of september, 20 of october, 1st of november, 24  and 25 of december , 31 of december and the day of the patron of the locality.

Fiestas Patronales Lake Atitlan

And as a reminder  the fiestas patronales of each villages around the lake..

Panajachel,  4th of  October, San Francisco de Asis
Santa Cruz La Laguna, 10th of May , Santa Elena de la Cruz
San Marcos La Laguna, 25th of April, San Marcos Evangelist
San Pablo La Laguna, 25th of January, San Pablo Apostol
San Juan La Laguna, 24th of June, San Juan Bautista
San Pedro La Laguna, 29th of June, San Pedro Apostol
Santiago Atitlan, 25th of July, Santiago Apostol
San Lucas Toliman,  18th of October, San Lucas Evangelist
San Antonio Palopo, 13th of June, San Antonio de Padua
Santa Catarina Palopo, 25th of November, Santa Catherine of Alexandrie.

Please share with your friends, on your Facebook wall, twitter and Linkedin

sábado, 20 de junio de 2015

3 questions on OCRET in Lake Atitlan

Follow up on OCRET on Lake Atitlan

In Cynthia recent Santa Cruz blog   issue she mentioned that my article on OCRET answers a lot of questions but might raise new ones. She passed me these ones that I will answer to the best of my knowledge.

1.  If OCRET consider 200 meters back from the water’s edge, then would that include properties that are technically NOT adjacent to the Lake, but are within the 200 meters?  A neighbour measured up from the Lake and found that it comes to just before his lower house. Only the property owners fronting the lake received the OCRET notice, but am wondering if they will then notify the rest of us at some future date?  Should property owners who are NOT on the lakeshore, but are within the 200 meters be.

OCRET work according the Government Decree 126-97. and this one refers to the Article 122 of the Guatemalan Constitution where it is defined what it is called the "Reservas Territoriales del Estado"
or the State Territory Reserves.  The State of Guatemala reserve for itself the domain on the following areas:

- a stripe of land of 3 kilometers along the oceans from the higher level of the tide.
- a stripe of land of 200 mts around the shores of the lakes
- a stripe of land of 100 mts along the banks of navegable rivers
- a circle of 50 mts of radius along the springs that provide water to the villages and cities.

Exceptions to the reservations expressed:

a. The properties located in the urban areas, and
b. The properties on which existe rights registered in the National Registry of Property before
the 1st of March of 1956.

So yes OCRET when will map properly the shores line it will asked the owners of rights on the land into the 200 mts to get their contracts as well... At the moment they are at a early stage of the process and contact first of all only the waterfront owners.

2. If it bisects a property, i.e. the 200 meters stops mid property (mid house?) then do they just calculate that portion?  

Correct technically you will have to get a contract for the portion into the 200 mts. The rest of your property will be owned under a different form of ownership. Most probably rights of possession.

3. As we know the Lake rises and goes down not only within a season but over a period of years it can vary greatly. At what point in the year this “fee” is calculated could make a big difference to some property owners, particularly those who are not adjacent to the lake but are within the 200 meters range.  A March measurement will be much different from an October measurement.  Could/Should it be recalculated? Thoughts on this?

 My experience is the following.. When you do the process to get a contract with OCRET you have to provide a plan of the property at the moment of the request. It has happen to me that let say we make the plan at the end of a rainy season and by the time OCRET came to check the measurement of the land the lake went down (in an area where the water is not to deep) like 50 mts.. they ask to make new plans to reflect the reality of the land.
Now during the contract you have you won't change the rent you pay if you loose land as the water is rising.. At the moment it is not in your interest and it is not a requirement from the Decree 126-97 to actualise your measurements. Now if the lake would go down substantially and you have a big stretch of land appearing in front of your property then I would recommend to actualise your measurement and you will pay a little bit more but you will rent more of the land and it will protect your place.

One of the big issue around the lake is the lake level changes.. For most of my time around it.. (25 years) the lake was going down slowly and the Government office OCRET in charge of administrating the land was almost absent of the area. When we have the big blooming of the algea only around 150 contracts were issued around the lake. Now that the government as an office in Solola, and due of the recent major changes on the lake level, this is will become a big issue to deal with...

Don't forget to share this post on your Face book timeline, tweeter , google + accounts..

jueves, 11 de junio de 2015

OCRET frequent asked questions

Following up on the OCRET invitation to the Santa Cruz neighbours to regularize their possession.

- How do I know that my land is in the OCRET area?
  Government territorial area is along the lakes 200mts back from the water shore. And it is horizontal distance not vertical

- How do I know if my land has already a contract or not?
  Before buying any land in the 200 mts you should check that the land has not a contract already requesting a certification to OCRET

- Can I lose my possession if I don't register?
  Yes you can lose it, and it happened to me, so I can speak of experience. If somebody register the possession with OCRET with you knowing it you will have to take them to court and try to prove that you had previous ownership. In my case as it was raw land the judge estimated that if OCRET had given a contract to the person claiming my land it was enough as they did what the law required and I didn't do it in proper time. Plus being a foreigner didn't help at all. Art 27. Decreto 126-97

- If I pay OCRET I shouldn't pay property taxes?
No... OCRET will ask you to pay a lease and you will still have to pay taxes on the improvements you have done on the land to the municipality you depends of.

- What are the exceptions to an OCRET contract?
If the land is registered before 1956 in the registry of the property it is not affected by OCRET as you have a proper deed.
If the land is in an urban area it won't be subjected to OCRET.

- How do I know if my land is in an urban area?
A urban area is a geographic area and a village has to have it voted by the Congress. Around the lake on the shore no villages have their urban areas properly and legally defined.

- Can I register more than one piece of land with OCRET?
No you can only have one contract with OCRET in all Guatemala so if you plan to have a piece of land let say on the Pacific Coast you will have to put it into somebody names

- Can I divide an OCRET contract?
No once the contract has been given it is very hard to subdivided it.. there is no provision on the law and to make it happen you need to deal with somebody who is experienced with this particular situation.

- What are my obligation once I have a contract?
First of all the contract stipulate clearly the purpose of the contract which can be .. residential, vacation home, tourist activity.
Second it mentioned that you have to respect all the laws related with ownership in a protected area (which is the case of Lake Atitlan)
- that not respecting the terms of the contract and no respecting the law can be considered as a breach of contract and you will be asked to vacate the land

- For how long the contract is for?
Currently it is given for 30 years renewable. Art 9. Decreto 126-97

- What happen if I die?
You can put the contract in your will and your heirs will have to notify OCRET in order to change the ownership of the contract rights. Art 23. Decreto 126-97

- If I build a house? do I owe it?
yes,  the government own the land and you owns the improvements on the land

- Can I sell my house and the contract rights?
Yes at any moment you can sell the rights of the contracts and the improvements presuming you are up to date with your rent payments.

- Is their a limit on the size  of land I can register?
For a residence or a vacation house it is limited to 2,000 m2 , Now if your land is bigger you will have to register the rest under a different status.Art 6. Decreto 126-97

- What is the maximum length I can own on the waterfront?
on the lake it is 80 mts maximum Art 6. Decreto 126-97

- Can I rent land for the object of farming?
on the lake it is not possible to rent land from OCRET for agricultural purpose.  Art 6. Decreto 126-97