The majority of Spaniards like to own their own home; nevertheless 20% of the population in Spain is renters. If you are a foreigner moving to Spain it’s important to know Spanish law when concerning rental contracts.
Homeowners can put whatever they want on the rental contract to try to stick it to the renter, but the law is the law and any clause that does not follow Spanish law will not hold up in court.
Here is a quick and simplified list to be sure you know what is legal and what is not when signing a rental contract in Spain.
- The owner cannot force the renter to stay for more than 6 months (This was put into law in 2013). The renter should give 30 day notice before leaving and can do so any time after the first 6 months. This 30 day notice must be stated in the contract for the owner to be compensated if notice is not given. If the renter leaves before completing the time stipulated in the contract he must pay the owner one month’s rent for each year left on the contract. If the time is less than one year then they payment is proportional to the time left.
- The owner cannot force the renter to end the contract. For the first 3 years the contract is renewed annually unless the renter decided to leave and gives 30 day notice. If the owner needs the property for his or her own personal use then she can end the contract after one year. The owner must then move into the property.
- The owner can never enter the property without permission from the renter unless they have a court order.
- The owner cannot keep the security deposit unless it is needed to cover unpaid obligations or damages by the renter. Using the deposit for painting or cleaning the property would not be legal.
- The renter must take care of normal house maintenance or any damages from misuse. The owner is responsible for necessary fixes to keeping the house in good condition and repairs necessary from normal use over time. The owner is also responsible for paying IBI, community expenses and house insurance. The renters are responsible for water, gas, telephone and normal living expenses.
- Unless the renter signs a contract saying otherwise, the owner must give the renter the first option to buy the property if he decides to sell it.
- The owner cannot demand an upfront payment of more than one month. In every contract there must be a security deposit of one month’s rent. The owner can request more guarantees if they wish, like a bank guarantee or a bigger deposit.
- The amount taken by the owner for the security deposit cannot be updated or modified before 3 years have passed.
- The owner may not change the rent amount until one full year of the contract has been completed. It can be changed only after each successive year. The Índice de Garantía de la Competitividad indicator is normally used to update rent amounts.
- The owner cannot make home improvements without the permission of the renter.
- If the owner does not want the property to be sublet they must indicate it in the contract.
It’s always recommended to do an apartment revision with the owner before moving in. Here you can take note of imperfections and things not functioning properly.
Spain is similar to most western countries when it comes to renting properties but it’s always good to know what you are getting into!