If you’re thinking of moving to Spain then you may wish to consider renting a property rather than buying one initially, as a way to test the market of living in certain areas or transitioning to living in a whole new country. Spain has a robust rental market, and whilst the financial crash meant that property prices fell, rental prices, on the whole, did not. Despite this, many people who are new to living in Spain still choose to rent first to test the waters before they make the decision to buy their first Spanish home.
Here’s our concise guide to renting property in Spain, to help you decide whether it’s the right choice for you:
Finding the Right Rental Property in Spain
The first thing you need to know about renting in Spain is that there are currently no restrictions on foreigners renting property in the country: the rules and restrictions surrounding property rental are the same for ex pats as they are for citizens.
When it comes to finding a rental property, the best place to start is a local and reputable estate agent. Other places you can begin your rental search include online property portals, newspaper adverts or word of mouth (although this is much harder and can be unreliable if you are new to the country). Whilst we believe that using an estate agent is the best way to find a property, and often offers increased protection against scams and unreputable landlords, you may be expected to pay for these services. Property listings on estate agent websites are generally paid for by the landlord, but if you secure the services of an estate agent to find a property for you then you will pay for this service: this will either be a fixed fee, or calculated as a percentage of your monthly rental value.
Securing A Property and Paying the Deposit
Once you’ve found the property that you’d like to rent, you will need to apply for the it by completing a written application form and providing the following paperwork:
- Evidence of employment or ability to pay the rent (such as pension payments or independent financial means)
- Tax identification number (if you are working)
- Passport or other form of identification
- Personal references
You will also be expected to pay a month’s rent in advance, and most landlords will also ask you for the equivalent of a month’s rent as a security deposit. Don’t be alarmed if your prospective landlord also asks you for additional guarantees. Unfortunately, tenants in Spain have a reputation for being bad payers, so landlords often ask for extra financial incentives to protect their interests. These can include:
- Being asked to make additional rent payments as a form of deposit
- Agreeing to pay a bank guarantee. This is an alternative deposit that the bank pays on behalf of the tenant to the landlord in the case of non-payment of the rental instalments. Effectively it means that your bank uses your funds to act as a guarentee.
- A written guarantee from your employer, which similar to above acts as a kind of certificate in which the employer guarantees the payment of the rent to the landlord if the tenant stops paying.
Costs and Payments
Rent payments are made monthly, and are generally due on the first of the month. The rent amount will be agreed before you sign your tenancy agreement and shouldn’t increase during the term of that tenancy without written confirmation. If you haven’t paid your rent by the 7th of the month then your landlord is entitled to claim the figure owed in legal proceedings. If the amount overdue is less than €2,000, the landlord can go to court to claim it without needing a lawyer. This means that if you skip a rent payment, your landlord will be able to secure this from alternative channels in a relatively short period of time.
As well as paying for your monthly rent and the security deposit at the start of your tenancy, you should also expect to be responsible for paying for utilities and minor repairs due to wear and tear. The costs for these will depend on the size of the property, but for a 2 bedroom apartment expect to pay between 100-150 euros a month. You may also have to pay an annual fee for property or grounds maintenance and other services, such as garbage collection.
Starting and Ending Your Tenancy Agreement
Like any other company, a tenancy begins and ends according to the terms of a valid tenancy agreement. In Spain, this agreement can take the form of either a written or verbal contract. Signing a written contract in a language that you don’t understand is never a good idea, but a verbal contract is so much easier to break and dispute so we don’t recommend these either. Insist on having everything in writing and then translated into English or, if this isn’t possible, have an impartial Spanish speaker read the terms of the contract to you before you agree to sign anything.
Contracts are generally valid for 12 months and are automatically renewed if you don’t choose to end the agreement. If you decide to leave a property before your 12 month contract is up, you will still be valid to pay the rent until the end of your contract. You have the right to renew your tenancy every year for up to three years, unless the landlord wants/needs to occupy the property themselves. They can’t revoke your tenancy and then relist the property for other tenants. Rental law in Spain can be complicated, but as a general rule your rights to remain in the property are protected.
Ready to leave a tenancy? Ending your tenancy agreement will depend on the notice period that you have agreed with your landlord. The minimum notice period generally agreeed is 30 days, but this will be longer in some contracts. Your landlord should return your deposit to you within one month of your returning the keys, provided that you are returning the property in the same condition that you let it in.
Understanding Your Rights
Once you have secured your tenancy, you will have certain rights to remain within your property. Tenants' rights in Spain are incredibly robust. If tenants fall on financial difficulties, for example, it is difficult for a landlord to evict their tenants in Spain, as court proceedings are slow. So if a tenant stops paying rent, that rent must remain unpaid for an extended period before the landlord can arrange an eviction.
What’s more, landlords aren’t able to employ other methods to make life difficult for tenants that have stopped paying rent: Shutting off utilities or changing the locks, for example, would be considered a form of harassment and the landlords who do this could be charged or fined.
Are you ready to rent a property in Spain? Our rental specialists are ready and waiting to help you find the perfect home for you, enabling you to dip your toes into life overseas, and live the life you’ve always dreamed of.