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.

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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

miércoles, 10 de junio de 2015

OCRET visit Santa Cruz La Laguna waterfront neighbours

During the past week if you have a house on the waterfront you might have your care taker calling you if you are not living at the house permanently informing that some OCRET employees have been distributing letters to each houses on the waterfront. As this one below..
It states the following..
Base on the article 32 of the decree # 126-97 of the Law regulating the territorial areas of the State of Guatemala, which establish the obligation to legitimate the possession rights. Any person which actually have possession of a property located in the territorial areas of the State, without renting contract are obliged to regularize and legalize its situation during the six following months counting from the publication of the law.
For this reason, the OCRET office located in the 7th street 5-39 zona 1 Solola invite you to regularize your land ownership to give you the legal certainty.
OCRET Letter distributed to the Sta Cruz neighbours

The OCRET office building in Solola
OCRET office building Solola

Now one thing you have to be aware the 6 months mentioned to regularize the property situation is from the year 1997. Which means that right now they are just inviting you to come to their office to regularize your situation not mentioning any time frame.
OCRET depends of the Ministry of Agriculture and until recently only had office in Guatemala city. They open an office in Solola to help the particular to full fill their obligations more practically.

What does it mean to register with OCRET.
- first of all you need a legal copy of your paper of ownership
- then a plan of the land
- a plan of the localisation
- if you are waterfront OCRET won't rent you the first 20 mts as it is considered public beach but you will have the responsability to maintain it, prevent invasion and allow people to be able to walk the shore line.
- copy of your ID
- a guarantor 
- pay the fee for the tecnical visit Q 500.00

then wait that they call you for an inspection.
The process can take up to a year depending the quantities of demand they have to handle.

A Solutions have been helping dozen of foreigners in acquiring contracts. Them being present or through power of attorney. We also provide the guarantee for a yearly fee when you don't have one.

martes, 10 de febrero de 2015

Lake Atitlan in numbers

For the ones who wonders about the department of Solola where Lake Atitlan is located here are some numbers to help you understand the territory. Before making a decision where to live or retire you might consider some of this information...

The main town is Solola, from the department of Solola, people from Solola are called Sololateco.
Population estimated 477,706 and a density per km2 of 450 inhabitant / km2.
The altitude of Solola is 2,113 ABSL , temperatures Min 1.1oC Max 30.2o C this is at the altitude of Solola, down at the lake level the minimum are higher in the 14o C.
Around the department 4 languages are spoken : Spanish, K'iche', Kakchiquel and Tz'utujil.
Medium age 18 years old.. very young...
An important fact is the number of inhabitant per villages
Solola 130,621
San Jose Chacaya 5,092
Santa Maria Visitacion 2,704
Santa Lucia Utatlan 25,402
Nahuala 68,616
Santa Catalina Ixthahuacan  51,555
Santa Clara La Laguna  10,398
Concecpcion  7,124
San Andres Semetabaj  13,715
Panajachel  18,552
Santa Catarina Palopo 6,311
San Antonio Palopo 13,700
San Lucas Toliman  31,721
Santa Cruz La Laguna  7,983
San Pablo La Laguna  7,757
San Marcos La Laguna  4,784
San Juan La Laguna  11,536
San Pedro La Laguna  11,716
Santiago Atitlan  48,419

Total 477,706

There are 1,316 legally registered company in Solola
They occupy the folloing number of people
From 1 to 5   987 companies or 75% of the total
From 6 to 9   113 companies or 8,58% of the total
From 10 to 19  90 companies or 6.83%
From 20 to 49   65 companies or  4.93%
from 50 to 99    26 companies or 1.97%
more of 99   12   companies or 0.91 of the total

Sector of activity

Construction 2.67%
Transformation industries 3.85%
Transport and storage  4.15 %
Agriculture, farming fishing  9.04%
Water, waste  1.19%
Trade, vehicle maintenance 79.11%

Educacion of this very young poblation in 2013
93.1% of the student finish the first level of educacion (primario)
43.2%  the basic level (basico)
and 7,325 students graduate in 2012

Lake Atitlan is the main attractive of Solola.
There are 226 hotels, 2,619 rooms and 7,393 beds

(source Bank of Guatemala and INE)

domingo, 25 de enero de 2015

Two Houses for sale Panajachel with big garden

Excellent property, located above the market, at the end of a private entrance this big lot offers two houses. You could live on the property collect money from the rent of the guest house (currently rented) and still have place to receive visit and do your favorite hobby... more information on PANAH 15 here.
More pictures at the following CLICK

domingo, 11 de enero de 2015

House for sale San Marcos La Laguna Atitlan Guatemala

For the one looking for a nice little place in San Marcos La Laguna. Away from the river and the lake, on the path to the yoga farm.. a cute little cottage with land close to it to expand.. Only $ 45,000

SANMAH 10 Cute house for sale San Marcos La Laguna Atitlan

Similar listing at

And remember Guatemala , Lake Atitlan is the ideal place to retire