How To Rent a Property In Spain
Renting a house or apartment in Spain is often the chosen option for expats moving to Spain as renting a property is a good way to start out in a new environment. Renting gives you time to settle into the new culture, as well as giving you time to get to know a Region, town or city while perhaps house hunting for something more permanent. Also, property rentals do not impose any restrictions on foreigners whether or not they are residents of Spain.
However, it is important to note that once you have found a property that you wish to lease you will also need services and utilities, which means having a bank account and making financial transactions. In order to do any of these, you will need an NIE number, (TIE card).
Finding a rental property
Although the property market in Spain concentrates mainly on sales, there is a healthy rental market and rentals are not high, although of course the price depends on the location as well as size and type of property.
Finding a rental property before you leave your home country can be done on the internet, and there are some estate agents (immobiliarias) listed on estate agent websites based in countries outside Spain. However, most of these target the tourist market and holiday rentals. If you are searching on the internet it is a good idea to include the term ‘long-term’ in your rental search.
Estate Agents – Qualifications
When searching for a rental property in Spain, as in many countries, it is usual to employ the services of an estate agent, but beware: estate agents are not regulated in Spain. To avoid falling into the hands of disreputable agents and ensure you are dealing with a professional and knowledgeable agent, choose one that is a member of a professional association or even better a member of an International organisation. By going to the association websites you will be able to link directly to the websites of approved member estate agents.
Spanish Estate Agent organisations:
- Agente de Propiedad Inmobiliaria (API)
- Gestor Intermediario en Promociones de Edificiones
International Estate Agent Associations:
- The International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI)
Estate agent commission and fees
Renting a property in Spain through the services of an Estate Agent means that you will incur costs. Although once you have found a rental property thereafter agent fees are covered by the property owner, you will have to pay for the agent’s services in finding you a suitable property. This could amount to around €250 or the amount of the first month’s rent. Be sure to establish the fee before you engage an agent’s services to avoid being unpleasantly surprised.
Typical Estate Agent Scams in Spain
- Asking for a deposit before the lease is signed by both parties
- Inflating the rental and pocketing the difference
- Properties falsely advertised by people posing as the owners – The property is not in fact owned by the person advertising. Be sure to get a fixed line telephone number and check the address and name of the person/s with that number through a directory. Test the number.
Avoid making payments to an agent through a website as in the recent past, some websites have been hacked and payments diverted, so neither the owner nor the agent is aware that a payment has been made, and you lose out. Not only is there no agreement but your deposit money has disappeared.
Do not send money by Western Union, Money Gram, cashier’s cheque, money order. These will not be traceable.
Only after the finalisation of your lease should any financial transaction take place. Make sure that transactions go to a Bona Fide account, preferably bank to bank.
If an agent requests copies of ID/passport prior to finalisation beware: this is not necessary until a contract has been formally signed and notarized.
Long-term rental property – Advertisements
Rental properties are usually advertised with a monthly rental, stating the square meterage of the living space. As with property rentals anywhere, the advert should state whether the property is available furnished or unfurnished – but again beware: some properties advertised as furnished may not be fully furnished, but just contain a few odd bits of furniture and may not have such items as fridge and/or stove.
If you view a property with the tenant still in residence be sure you clarify what belongs to the tenant and what items are included in the rental. If you are not able to view in person, be sure you have a list of items included from your estate agent.
Extra running costs: Heating
If you are to move to a region where winters are cold and heating is required be sure to ask for the Energy Efficiency Certificate relevant to the property you are renting. This certificate is required by law in Spain. If one is not available then you know that your heating costs will be high.
Agreement to lease
Now that you have found a promising property that you are happy to rent, you will have to pay a deposit usually one month’s rent, but it can be as much as two month’s rent and cannot be used to pay rent. The deposit is held in trust by either the agent or the owner until the end of your lease i.e. when you leave the property. The agent’s fee as previously agreed, for finding a suitable rental for you, is usually also paid at this time.
Once everything has been agreed –ensure that all agreements are in writing. When the final lease is to be signed you will be asked to provide the following documents:
- Evidence of employment and/or financial ability to meet the rental amount
- Your NIE number (TIE card)
- Passport or ID document (a photocopy)
- Personal references –(Certified Spanish translations)
The Agreement (contrato de arrendamiento)
When renting a property it is unwise to enter into a verbal agreement, so ensure that each step, in reaching your agreement, is documented, and make sure that you fully understand everything on any documents that you are required to sign.
Should there be a chance of being transferred by your company at short notice, and you are signing a lease for a period longer than 6 months it is a good idea to include an escape clause in your lease.
Renewal of contract
It is usual for long-term contracts to allow for renewal annually for up to a period of 3 years, unless the landlord states. right at the start, that the lease will end at the end of the period agreed.
Many contracts now are for a period of 6 months and thereafter are on a roll-on month to month basis, however if you have signed a 12 month contract and find that you have been unexpectedly transferred by your company you can expect to be compelled to pay the rent for the entire period remaining on your lease, unless the lease has included an escape clause.
Refurbishments and improvements
If the property is improved during your tenancy the landlord is permitted to increase your rent accordingly, but the improvements must be shown to have met approved standards and the increase is not more than 20% of the total rental.
Long-term rental costs
- Deposit – equivalent to one or two month’s rental (not to be used to pay rent).
- One month’s rent payable in advance. Payment usually before the 1st or 2nd of each month. You landlord may request a Bank Guarantee. (This means that if you fail to pay your rent the landlord can apply for payment direct from your bank.)
- Payment for utilities and minor repairs (these cover wear and tear).
- Payment of monthly or annual levies for maintenance of communal areas and garbage collection.
Note: As you, the tenant are responsible for maintenance costs of normal wear and tear, it is vital that you take a full inventory of any snags i.e. things in need of repair before you move in. Therefore immediately on occupation you should draw up a snag list. Similarly you should organise for a leaving inspection 2 to 3 weeks before the agreed date to vacate. This will give you time to do any required repairs before you leave. Leaving this up to the agent or owner, could lead to unwarranted repairs being carried out covering all of your deposit and you will get nothing back.
The landlord is not compelled by law to return your deposit on the date that you hand over the keys to the property. By law he/she has the right to retain your deposit for a full month after you leave. Should your landlord hold on to your deposit for longer than the legal period of one month, the landlord must pay interest on the deposit amount.
Renting a property in Spain means that you as a tenant have the law on your side as the laws in Spain are strongly in favour of the tenant.
Landlords cannot easily evict a tenant as the law grinds slowly in Spain and therefore court proceedings take an excessively long time to either begin or reach a final conclusion. Unpaid rent does not entitle the landlord to evict a tenant until such time as the rent has remained unpaid for a period not less than 6 weeks – this period was previously 6 months but was amended to 6 weeks in 2013.
Landlords are not permitted to shut down utilities, change the locks, or otherwise restrict the tenant’s access to the property.
Landlords can be charged with trespass if they enter the property without the tenant’s permission.
Bankruptcy and your Landlord
Should the property you are renting be repossessed by the bank, during the period of your lease, your right to remain in the properties does not change. The bank can re-sell the property during your occupancy and you will then be subject to a new landlord, who has the right to request you to vacate. However you are not forced to agree.
A new landlord is legally permitted to offer you a financial settlement to encourage you to vacate the premises. You can choose to accept or not – the landlord may not force you to accept.
Short-term rentals – Holiday rentals
Renting a property short-term covers any rental under 12 months duration. These rentals are regulated and must be legally licenced.
High season rentals (Summer, school holidays, and Christmas) – You need to search for these well in advance as because of high demand they are in short supply the nearer you get to the season.
As a short-term tenant you must vacate the premises at the end of your contract (contrato de arrendamiento de temporada). If you wish to remain a new contract must be agreed before the end of the present contract.
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