Found the perfect city centre apartment? Or a sprawling country house? Whatever it is, if you’re renting, there are a number of things you should take into account as you prepare to sign the contract.
In Spain there are two types of rental contracts:
- A contrato de arrendamiento de vivienda is a long-term agreement, subject to obligatory extensions as part of the Urban Lettings Act designed to protect those who rent their homes. Independently of the period agreed, once a tenant has stayed in the property for over a year, the contract must be extended for five years (if the landlord is an individual) or seven years (if it is a legal entity).
- A contrato de arrendamiento de temporada is a seasonalcontract. It is therefore not subject to obligatory extensions,regardless of the rental period agreed between the two parties. For example, a contract could be agreed for two years but still be a seasonal contract.
In both cases, there will be a number of factors to consider before you enter.
Before you sign a rental contract there are a few up-front costs that you’ll be expected to pay.
The first is the entry deposit (or “fianza” in Spanish) which is typically the equivalent of one month’s rent (but can be up to three).
The second is one month’s rent in advance.
Then, if you are using an agency as an intermediary, you’ll be expected to pay their commissions (also usually the equivalent of one month’s rent).
Proof of income
When renting a property you are likely to be asked for proof of income to show that you can cover the rent.
Usually, you are asked to provide your last three payslips but if you have just arrived in the country and haven’t started working yet, sometimes a signed work contract will be sufficient.
However, if you have neither of those things, there are three other options, depending on the owner’s willingness. You can:
- Pay six months of rent in advance (or any other type of similar large deposit).
- Get a guarantor, someone who legally agrees to pay the rent in case you can’t.
- Use another property you own or contact your bank for a guarantee if you default on payments.
In addition, you’ll be asked for your passport or ID card, and tax identification number if you’re working.
Once you have moved into your new rental property, unless your agreement states otherwise, you will be responsible for a number of monthly costs.
Of course, one is the monthly rent. Though owners may let an occasional late rental payment slide, if you haven’t paid by the seventh of any month, the owner can legally take you to court in what is a relatively quick and straightforward procedure that can be completed without the help of a lawyer.
Rent aside, utility bills need to be paid too. In most properties, this will be the electricity and water bills – plus internet, if you require it.
Some properties will have gas installations, normally for hot water.
However, every contract is different and if you’re going directly to the owner, there’s always room for negotiation. Sometimes water or electricity can be included in the rental price, for example.
Another thing to consider is if the property has access to a parking space, a swimming pool or a garden. In those instances, you may also be expected to pay maintenance fees.
What’s more, the tenant is also responsible for small repairs to the property.
Rental properties are usually fully furnished and already have a washing machine, fridge and a stove, so that is one less thing to worry about.
Ending the contract
Though you’re only just moving in, it’s also worth bearing in mind how you can end the contract without penalty.
If you’re planning to leave a rental property, you must notify the property owner at least 30 days in advance.
However, if you agreed to a fixed duration, you may be expected to pay the difference if you leave ahead of time, even if you’re not living there anymore.
For you to get your security deposit returned, you first have to return the keys. From that moment the owner legally has 30 days to return the deposit.
In order to avoid any deductions, it is recommended to do an inspection of all rooms, furniture and appliances before moving in and keeping an inventory, with photographic proof, so that you can compare any damage when you leave.
Things to avoid
Speaking of things to steer clear of, there are a number of common practices that should be avoided if possible.
First of all, make sure everything is in writing. Don’t accept a verbal tenancy agreement.
Once you have a contract, read it carefully before signing to spot any clause that might go against your interests.
What’s more, if you want to avoid scams, don’t sign the contract or send any payment without visiting the flat beforehand. Try to avoid following listings that are posted outside Spain as the risk of a scam is much higher and they tend to be much more expensive.
Conversely, if you’re a landlord looking into buying in Spain, getting insurance that covers unpaid rent is something to consider.
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