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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Info for potential vacation rental property buyers in Ecuador. October 2016.

Question posted on Facebook on October 15, 2016:
I have a question for you regarding vacation rental houses. We have a vacation rental house up by Lago Cuicocha that was an existing house built in probably the 1980's. The municipality this last week has told our Ecuadorian manager that we need to provide them with house plans stamped by an architect and engineer before they will give us the last document so that we have everything in place for having guests. It has been one thing after another and redoing documents and inspections and fire extinguishers etc. this latest is crazy. 
How is anybody going to come up with house plans on an existing house?
Reinforcement steel, thickness of floor depth of foundation etc? 
How is an architect and engineer going to ever feel comfort to sign off on something they don't know anything about? Have you ever ran into this or anything as crazy as this?
Any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated as we don't know what to do.  We have been paying our taxes and trying to comply with everything but this is a big question for us? Thanks

Responses from someone who lives in Ecuador for a few decades: 
The laws are no short of INSANE now. They want impossible things....some of these tramites (red tapes) can take years and years. We are pretty fed up also with the laws here now....
Yes, that is what they are asking now even tho the houses may be decades old....and some houses in some parts of the country side, back then, didn't need plans. For the houses up here (Otavalo and surroundings - LB), we not only had to show plans but so much more, the whole layout of the mountain and other things. Everything here now has to be constantly 'actualized' ... I mean you may have a permit that is paid up and all of a sudden it is null and void because you have not 'actualized' it and that is having to show everything all over again.

To close down our lodge business (in Otavalo - LB), was also insane. One office said to go and 'get this paper' ... we tried, they sent us to Ibarra, then back here again and then the next office said "What? You don't even need this." There is a huge breakdown now. 10 times more employees than are needed, no one is trained or no one is communicating with the other. One hand does not know what the other hand is doing. It was much better 40 years ago when land titles were written out in long-hand! One would think that with 'computerization' things would be better, but instead they are worse.
When we built the mountain (near Otavalo - LB) 18 years you did not need to have plans to build in the outlying areas. So after we built the houses, the municipio and this one was not even as bad as now....sanctioned us that we needed plans! We were held hostage! Although there was no existing law on the books saying that we needed plans! One architect wanted thousands of dollars....somehow we got it worked out for about $600 or so. Very Sleazy? Absolutely yes. They are more rotten than ever now, intoxicated on their power.

We have an old friend for about 30 years who spent 9 years working in the Cotacachi municipio as an architect. He is retired now and he told us that at first, laws were relaxed, but as some of the 'big builders' came comes to mind, a big ol fat gringo who was with REMAX at the time and thought that Cotacachi was his new million dollar oyster to do anything with, no laws were respected in fact they were. Then things became a bit tense as some indians tore down a wall to a gated community....the 'big builder' built on their land. There is much less patience now for the gringo building in Cotacachi. Here in Otavalo, they are an 'equal opportunity' torturer.

So this past year we built a house up here (near Otavalo - LB). We got every kind of permit that was necessary. Even a permit to cut down our own trees. So we were legal as can be. Half way through the building the municipio sent people up to say that my husband had to go to the municipio right away as we 'were in arrears' ... he went. They demanded that one thousand dollars be deposited into their gov. account, in insure that we 'followed our plans' correctly and the thousand dollars would be refunded after they did the inspection to see that we followed plans to the "T." Months and months ago we had that inspection.....and we have solicited to get out $1,000 escrow back and now they don't want to give it back. We will fight this one.
Seems the more that one wants to follow the law and be legal here, they will not let you do it! Ecuadorians try to get away with what they can, they will always go after us, the gringos.
End of quote:

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