Understand your tenant rights in Spain: What internationals need to know

Marle

May 02 • 4 minute read

Different countries come with different rules. Knowing your tenant rights in Spain is key to prevent you from signing your tenancy agreement blindfolded.

Three steps before moving into your new home

Before you hang up your clothes in the wardrobe of your new home in Spain, there are three basic steps you should follow:

  1. Inspect the accommodation beforehand
  2. Read and understand your rental contract
  3. Pay your deposit

1. Inspect the accommodation beforehand

Before you sign your tenancy agreement, you should inspect your new accommodation thoroughly when you receive the keys.

Note down in a list:

  • What is the condition of the accommodation?
  • What is the condition of the furniture?
  • Does the accommodation have mould or damp?
  • Are doors, windows, appliances damaged?

Don't just write down notes, take photos of them. Some owners or agencies take photos when you move in and ask you to sign off on them when you move in.

An inspection is crucial before signing your tenancy agreement so that you are not held responsible for any damage afterwards. Besides, request who is going to take care of the repairs in written form.

2. Read and understand your tenancy agreement

In Spain, you can sign a rental contract (contrato de arrendamiento) verbally or in writing. Without a written rental agreement, yet, it can backfire for international students if you do not understand the rental agreement.

Insist that the landlord gives you a written tenancy agreement.

Duration of a tenancy agreement

A tenant with a long-term lease has the right to renew their lease annually for five years.

If the landlord is a legal entity, you are allowed to live in the accommodation for seven years, where the lease is renewed annually. Typically, a lease is set for 12 months; yet, you can agree this upon with the landlord.

After one year

After the first year of the tenancy agreement, the landlord can claim the accommodation for his use (for himself or his relatives). In this case, the landlord must give you, the tenant, 2 months' notice. Attention: The landlord must have stated this in the tenancy agreement.

Has the landlord still not taken over the accommodation for personal use after three months? Then you as the tenant can take over the accommodation again within 30 days at the same rental conditions and for up to 5 years.

After five (or 7) years

If your landlord doesn't terminate your tenancy four months before the end of the five years, the tenancy is automatically extended annually for a maximum of three more years. As a tenant, you must give two months' notice before the end of the contract.

For example, if you start your tenancy on 1 May 2021, your landlord must give you notice before 1 January 2026 if he wants to end the tenancy after five years.

Termination of your tenancy agreement

Moving to another neighbourhood of Barcelona after all? No problem, you’re not tied to your accommodation forever.

As a tenant, you can end your tenancy agreement:

  • After six months
  • With a 30-day notice period
  • Look for a clause in your tenancy agreement that allows you to end your tenancy agreement before the six months.

Again, there are exceptions. If the landlord:

  • Fails to carry out necessary repairs and maintenance of the accommodation
  • Unnecessarily disturbs the tenant

You can also terminate the tenancy agreement before the six months.

Rent increases after moving in

How much is a landlord allowed to increase your rent during your tenancy? If the landlord makes improvements to your accommodation, the landlord is allowed to increase the rent.

However, the rent must meet certain standards and may not be more than 20% higher than your current rent.

3. Pay your deposit

Before you move in, the landlord has the right to ask you for a deposit. The deposit may not exceed one month's rent. At the end of your five-year tenancy, the landlord can adjust the amount of the deposit to reflect the value if you renew.

Be careful: In Spain, landlords often ask their tenants to pay the deposit in cash. Insist on transferring the deposit. That way you'll have proof of payment on paper.

Here's the good news: According to the Landlord and Tenant Law (Ley de Arrendamientos Urbanos or LAU), landlords must declare the deposit to an administrative authority within the respective autonomous community so that it can be protected. Many landlords do not know this. If your landlord does not mention registration, tell him to register your deposit there.

You should get your deposit back within one month of moving out.

These are your tenant rights in Spain

As a tenant in Spain, you are allowed to make improvements to your accommodation. This means that you can hang shelves on the wall or paint the walls. However, you must first get written permission from your landlord.

Have you already hung picture frames on your wall and painted walls without getting permission? The landlord can ask you to restore the original condition when you move out.

What can the landlord do and what can't he do?

It's difficult for internationals to understand what a landlord is allowed to do and what he’s not allowed to do in Spain.

Do'sDon'ts
State in the tenancy agreement that the tenant must inform the landlord if they want to make improvements (paint walls, hang shelves, etc.).Go into your accommodation without notice or permission.
Ask the tenant to restore the place to its original condition when he or she moves out.Sell the accommodation during your tenancy. You cannot legally be kicked out of the accommodation when you sell it if the tenancy is still ongoing.

Besides, the landlord may end the tenancy agreement with you if:

  • You have not paid the monthly rent
  • you have not paid the deposit for the accommodation
  • You sublet the accommodation
  • You have caused serious damage to the accommodation
  • You make noise or engage in illegal, unhealthy or dangerous activities in the accommodation.

What you need to keep in mind when moving out

Four to two weeks before you move out, you should request an inspection so that you know what you need to improve in your accommodation to get your full deposit back.

Your landlord must return your deposit within one month of moving out. If he pays your money back later, he will have to pay interest.

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