If you’re beneficiary to an estate in Spain, it may contain a property with the potential to let. You and the other heirs might decide that you want to let the property earn extra income while the inheritance is sorted out.
However, it isn’t just a case of putting up a ‘se alquila’ sign and renting it out to the first suitable tenant. Letting a property that’s part of an inheritance in Spain must follow a process and stay within the guidelines of Spanish law.
What’s the legal status of the property during the inheritance process?
Assets that form part of an estate that has yet to be inherited legally are now as ‘herencia yacente’ in Spanish, literally ‘unclaimed estate’. In layman’s terms, it means assets that are temporary without a designated owner.
Herencia yacente also includes rights and debts that may form part of the inheritance.
What happens if you let a property in Spain before the inheritance process is complete?
This option is a popular one, particularly if the inheritance process is lengthy or the heirs are unable to come to an agreement on the division of assets. In this case, the rental contract must be signed by all potential heirs as representatives of the property.
What about rental conditions?
These should be agreed upon between the heirs and tenants. If the heirs fail to agree on the rental conditions, a majority decision is sufficient. If there is no agreement, the rental contract may last for no longer than six years.
What happens when the inheritance process is complete?
If the heirs let the property before completing the inheritance, they must respect the contract signed with the tenant once the inheritance process is over and assets have been divided.
What happens if the property was already rented out at the time of the inheritance?
In general terms, the heirs must respect the rental contract, although it depends on whether the deceased was the owner or the beneficiary owner (usufructuary) of the property.
Owner of the property
If the deceased owned the property, the rental contract continues with no changes and the heirs must respect all the conditions within it.
If the deceased has a spouse, they usually become the landlord if the inheritance process allocates them a lifelong interest in the deceased’s assets (as is usually the case in Spanish law).
Beneficiary owner of the property
If the deceased was a beneficiary owner, in most cases the rental contract is ended. However, the new owner of the inherited property may decide whether to continue with the rental or not.
Who should the tenant pay?
The tenant may well wonder who to pay the rent to once the owner dies. We recommend that the tenant continues to pay the monthly rent into the deceased’s bank account while the inheritance process is completed.
What happens if the tenant stops paying?
In this case, the heirs have the right to start an eviction process against the tenant even if the property has not been adjudicated to a particular heir.
How can I get advice about letting a property that’s part of an inheritance in Spain?
The Costaluz Lawyers legal team includes experts in Spanish inheritance, one of the most complicated aspects of Spanish law. Get in touch with them for a chat about how they can help you complete the inheritance process and ensure your interests are fully represented and respected.