The Legalities of Renting a Property in Spain

14th November 2016 No Comments

The Legalities of Renting a Property in Spain

Posted by Editor in Blog

Unlike in other parts of the world, In Spain a tenancy agreement between a prospective tenant and a property owner can be valid either if written form, or only as a verbal agreement sealed with a handshake. Of course, a verbal agreement is not the best idea; especially if you have recently arrived in Spain, as unless you are already a fluent Spanish speaker, there could be a great deal of misunderstanding.

A rental written agreement (in Spanish this is called a “contrato de arrendamiento”) is a legal contract that spells out exactly each parties responsibilities and rights, and the terms of rental payment.

Some important points a renter in Spain should be aware of include the following:

In most cases, if you rent on a one year (or more) basis, you as the tenant, have the right to renew annually for three years unless the owner chooses to personally occupy the dwelling on a given date. In this case, you must be given at least 60 days’ notice.
Under Spanish law, if at any time the owner makes any improvements on the property, an increase in rent may also be implemented. However, there are certain standards regarding this that must be met.

Previously in Spain, a long term rental contract would be for one year and renewed each year. In this case, if the tenant decided to move, he would legally have to continue paying rent until the end of the rental period, although in practice this was rarely enforced. However, in June of 2013, the Spanish authorities introduced a new law which changed this requirement, and rental periods can now be for only six months instead of a year; and further followed by a 30-day month-to-month contract. It may still be a good idea to include any possible extra expenses in your budget in the event that you have to leave before the end of a rental period. Sometimes it is possible to have an escape clause incorporated into the rental agreement, so if you are in a situation where you might have to leave in a hurry, you do not have to continue paying rent.

Long Term Lets In Spain

When renting long term, a security deposit will be required, which is normally one to three month’s rent. As in most rental situations worldwide, the deposit cannot be used to pay your rent if you find yourself short one month. In Spain, legally the deposit is held by a third party.
The landlord can’t ask for more than one month’s rent in advance, which is generally paid on the first day of each month. Many property owners in Spain will require a bank guarantee, particularly when the renter is from another country. This means if a tenant fails to pay her rent as agreed, the property owner may apply to the bank for recovery of the monies owed.

It should be noted the tenant will usually be required to pay utilities and minor repairs that result from wear and tear. This should be spelled out in the rental agreement. In Spain, utilities for a one-bedroom apartment may cost between 50€ to as much as 150€ per month. There may also be annual or monthly fees for common area maintenance, and other charges such as garbage collection – all of which should be noted in the rental contract.

Renting Short Term in Spain

Temporary rentals, such as a rental for less than six months or even shorter term holiday rents are strictly regulated in Spain and property owners must have a license for this type of rental business.

Since Spain is a very popular destination for holidays, properties for short term rent of all prices and categories abound, and prices can vary greatly. Of course, during high season rental prices may increase considerably, and it must be remembered that renting on a short term basis means that you must vacate the property promptly because others may be waiting to move in.

Moving In or Out of Your Rental Home

It is obligatory for tenants to care for the property reasonably, and failure to do see may mean a landlord has the right to keep the deposit.
If you are a new tenant you should, together with the property owner, make a careful inventory of the property and sign off on its condition. A good move also is to have the property owner inspect the property a few weeks before you move out which allows time for any questions or problems to be resolved rather than waiting until the last minute.

Rights of a Tenant in Spain

In Spain, the law is heavily weighted in favour of tenants. For a property owner to evict a tenant, even for non-payment of rent, the owner must begin court proceedings and this can be slow. Furthermore, during the wait, the tenant no longer has to pay rent until the court allows the landlord to proceed with the eviction. Presently the landlord may start the eviction process in as little as six weeks, but the process can still drag on for long periods of time.

Any action taken by the landlord, such as shutting off utilities, changing locks or restricting in any way the tenant’s use of the property is considered harassment and the property owner could actually face a fine or even a jail sentence. A property owner can also be charged with trespassing for entering a property without the tenant’s permission.

One concern tenants in Spain may want to bear in mind is that if the property owner should default on the mortgage, the bank may foreclose. While theoretically, you have the right to remain in the property until it is sold, you may be asked to leave before your contract is up by the new owner. You don’t have to agree however, and may be able to hold out for a financial incentive to encourage your departure. You don’t have to accept the offer, but often that is the best way to handle the situation.

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