What to expect when renting a property in Spain

Spain real estate concept. Man and woman holding miniature house in hands.

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.

Up-front costs

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.

Monthly costs

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.

We’re here to help. Contact us today for a free, no obligations chat.

12 thoughts on “What to expect when renting a property in Spain”

  1. Duncan Wallace

    Hi there,

    My daughter and boyfriend are going to live in Barcelona.
    They have found a place to rent. They have paid the agent one month as a fee and have signed the contract. The agent says we have to pay the deposit and first months rent before the landlord will sign. We expected to get a signed copy by both parties before we signed. Transferring such a lot of money to a private person seems risky without a contract signed by both parties.
    Is this normal practice on Spain?
    Duncan

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Dear Duncan:

      After the reform of the Housing Act, Agency fees in rental deals are now to be paid by the landlord.

      You are just legally obliged to pay a deposit of one month and first monthly rental fee when signing the contract. Of course, the review of the rental draft and the obtaining of a certificate of ownership of the account where you are going to pay is advisable.

      These are the legal conditions; nevertheless you must also be aware that due to the shortage of available properties to be rented, you are competing with many other potential tenants and therefore, with the conditions they can freely accept.

  2. Hi Maria
    I wondered if you’d be so kind as to straighten out a couple of issues I’m having regarding a seasonal rent contract I’m reluctant to sign?

    The apartment costs €1600pm and I’ve already viewed it and would love to stay there. It was listed on Idealista as available for 10 months but because the agents insisted I pay ALL of the rent in advance, I opted for a five month tenancy to halve my liability. Can they insist on full rent up front, no matter how long the contract?

    They are also charging an extra €2000 +VAT of agent fees/brokerage commission on top of £2k deposit! (But I just saw your message to Duncan saying the owner should pay that – does this apply to seasonal contracts too, or not?

    I’m reluctant to pay £12k in advance, especially since I was told ‘none of it is refundable’, even if I cancel the contract or leave the property early due to aggressive neighbours, noisy dogs upstairs etc, (both of which I’ve experienced with air B&B!)

    I’ve seen the draft contract and there’s no mention of:

    1) my Security Deposit being held by any formal agency.
    2) any safety certificate to prove it is habitable. Or energy certificate.
    3) Community fees for pool, Basura etc being included in the rent (which we agreed by WhatsApp after they tried to charge me an extra £200pm for!)
    4) Any names or bank accounts other than mine. I think the agents may be the owners – what’s the implications of this, if any?

    There is also a penalty clause that says if I stay beyond the agreed date then rent will be charged at FIVE times the agreed daily rental amount, per day – Idealista’s rental template has this as ‘double’ the normal rate, not five times! Would this still apply if I was stuck there due to a pandemic lockdown? In fact, If I paid al this money, and covid stopped me even getting there to move in, would I lose all my money or would any of it be refunded?

    I honestly appreciate your time.
    The advice you provide is very valuable to people like me who just need a straight answer to standard questions.

    If you can settle the above issues for me, I’d be very interested in a proper ‘contract review’ as there may be other abusive clauses or illegal omissions that I need to put straight. Its also in Spanish so could do with a professional review. If you do offer this sort of service, how much do you charge and how long does it take?

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Dear Mike:

      Based on the information you’ve provided regarding the basic seasonal rental regulations from LAU (Spanish Urban Lease Act), here are my observations and recommendations:

      Purpose of Seasonal Rentals: Seasonal rentals are specifically for temporary needs, like vacations, temporary work, or studies. It’s essential that your contract clearly specifies the purpose of your rental to ensure it qualifies as a seasonal agreement.

      Contract Duration: The contract’s duration is agreed upon by both parties, with no strict minimum or maximum timeframes defined by the law. You should ensure that the contract duration aligns with your intended stay and that the purpose for this duration is clearly stated (e.g., a three-month work project).

      Contract Extensions: Extensions aren’t automatic for seasonal contracts unless explicitly agreed upon by both parties. If you think there’s a chance you might want to extend, consider discussing this upfront.

      Tenant Departure: The tenant is expected to adhere to the contract’s duration. However, if there are specific circumstances under which you might need to leave earlier and these are agreed upon in the contract, then you can depart early. You might want to negotiate an exit clause that covers unforeseen events or challenges.

      Landlord Reclaiming the Property: The landlord is expected to respect the contract’s duration. They can only reclaim the property during the term if you, as the tenant, violate the contract’s terms.

      Security Deposit: The LAU dictates that two months’ rent should be taken as a security deposit for seasonal contracts. Make sure this is adhered to and that provisions exist for the return of the deposit at the contract’s end, given the property is returned in good condition.

      Additional Guarantees: If the landlord requests additional guarantees on top of the security deposit, this can be added to the contract if both parties agree. Make sure you are comfortable with any additional guarantees before signing.

      Given the above information and your initial concerns:

      Upfront Payment: It seems unusual for a seasonal rental to require full payment in advance, especially if it’s for several months. You might want to refer to the LAU or consult a local attorney to verify if this is typical or allowed.

      Agent Fees: If the LAU does not specify who pays the agent’s fees, you might need to negotiate this with the landlord or agency. Remember, for seasonal rentals, many terms can be negotiated between the two parties.

      Contract Concerns: The deposit (and any additional guarantees) should be clearly stated, with terms for its return. Ensure the contract specifies the property’s intended temporary use, the exact duration, and the reasons for the rental (e.g., work, studies).

      Finally, considering the value involved and the potential risks, it’s highly advisable to get the contract reviewed by a local attorney familiar with Spanish rental laws. They can provide a detailed understanding and might catch any potential issues or clauses that could be unfavorable to you.

      Furthermore, we would be delighted to review your contract if you require such assistance. Ensuring that all the terms are fair and in alignment with local regulations is crucial for your peace of mind, and we’re here to support you in that endeavor.

      Best regards

      Maria L. de Castro
      General Director
      Costaluz Lawyers

  3. Hello I am looking for some advise, I’ve recently rented a local. And I’ve just found out it’s been empty for more than 10 years I understood it has been empty for just a few years. There is not water or electricity and the local needs to have all the electrics reinstalled for the new legislation so I can get the certificate. I understand that it’s my responsibility to pay for a new contract and connection fee but I don’t think it’s my responsibility to have the local reinstalled which will cost thousands.. the landlord is refusing to help me. Can you please advise me

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Dear Simon:

      In Spain, the Ley de Arrendamientos Urbanos (LAU) or Urban Lease Law governs the rental of urban properties, which includes both residential leases and commercial leases, like the one for your “local” (commercial space).

      Here are some general considerations based on the LAU, but keep in mind that these should not replace professional legal advice:

      Responsibility for Repairs: As per Article 21 of the LAU, the landlord is typically responsible for any necessary repairs that are required to keep the property in a condition suitable for the use agreed upon in the lease. However, unless otherwise stated in the lease, the tenant would be responsible for repair costs when the damage is attributable to the tenant’s conduct.

      Structural and Habitability Upgrades: If the electrical system needs to be updated to comply with new legislation for the property to be operable or habitable, it’s generally seen as the landlord’s responsibility to cover these costs, as they are obliged to deliver a property that is fit for the purpose for which it is rented.

      Negotiation and Lease Agreement: The specific terms of the lease can override the general rules, as long as they don’t infringe on the mandatory rights of the parties. If the lease stipulates that the tenant accepts the premises “as is” or includes a clause assigning these types of upgrades to the tenant, this could affect your situation.

      Legal Disputes: If there’s a dispute that can’t be resolved through negotiation, tenants have the right to take legal action. The courts can determine the interpretation of the lease and the application of the LAU.

      Hope the above helps. We will be very pleased to help if you need further assistance

      Best wishes

      María

  4. Hello, I have been renting an apartment for 2 years and now the induction hob stopped working providing an error message from one day to the other. My landlord claims that I am responsible for carrying the costs of fixing it. Is this correct? I notified her in due time . My contract states that the owner is responsible to maintain the apartment in livable conditions.

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Dear Scarlett:

      Under Spanish rental law, your landlord should generally fix the induction hob if it broke due to normal wear and tear. It’s their duty to keep the apartment livable. Since you’ve notified your landlord promptly, they should handle the repair costs, not you. Just double-check your rental agreement for any specific clauses, but typically, major repairs are the landlord’s responsibility in Spain.

      We will be pleased to help you further on this

      Best wishes,

      Maria

  5. Claudia Laverack

    Hi Maria,

    I wondered if you could answer a question around guarantors. I’ve previously lived in Spain but 2 years ago, but then moved back to the uk and now I’m moving back with my boyfriend who is Spanish. In the Uk I have worked on a good salary for two years and have payslips as proof, and in Spain I’ll continue in the same role at a reduced salary (likely just short of the minimum we’ll need monthly to rent demonstrate we have the income to rent). However I’m not sure a) if my evidence is accepted since it’s from the Uk and b) if my new income alone would even be enough for the proof we can pay the rent. My boyfriend was made redundant in the UK at Christmas so he doesn’t have a job yet.

    This brings me to my question. If my income from England isn’t accepted as proof, how does it work with a ‘guarentor’? In the uk I know someone who does have the proof of income can simply sign a contract to agree they will pay in the event we don’t, no fees etc. Is it the same in Spain and what is the name? My boyfriend’s family should be able to help in this case but we just aren’t sure if that’s how it works!

    Thanks,
    Claudia

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Dear Claudia:

      In Spain, a guarantor (“avalista”) can support your rental application by agreeing to cover rent if you’re unable to. Your UK income may not always meet Spanish landlords’ preferences, but having a guarantor strengthens your position. Guarantors need to show financial stability, and their commitment is legally binding within the rental agreement. No extra fees are involved for having a guarantor. Additionally, rental default and eviction insurance in Spain provide another layer of security for landlords, covering unpaid rent and legal costs, which could be an alternative to satisfy rental income proof requirements. It’s wise to discuss these options with landlords or rental agencies, especially since rental practices can vary across Spain.

      We will be very pleased to assist you with anything related to this.

      Best,

      María

  6. Meghan Hartman

    We’ve finally been “accepted” by a landlord, according to the personal shopper realtor person. But he wants us to pay him his fee to “reserve” the apartment before we sign a lease. Is this normal? To send the realtor fee before signing the lease or even talking to the landlord? I don’t want to be scammed.

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Dear Meghan:

      Paying a realtor fee before signing a lease and without direct landlord communication is unusual in Spain and raises red flags. Typically, fees are paid by the landlord or after signing the lease. Always insist on a lease agreement first and ensure transparency with documented receipts. Conduct due diligence on the realtor and property to avoid potential scams. It’s wise to proceed with caution and possibly seek legal advice.

      Hope the above helps

      Best,

      María

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top