10 things to do before moving out of your apartment in Spain
Here are some practical tips for moving out of your apartment in Spain, from terminating your lease to forwarding your post.
1. Give notice
New rental contracts are generally for at least five years and renewable annually by mutual consent. This can be unspoken and in fact the lease will be automatically renewed unless the tenant gives the landlord 30 days’ notice before the end of the year. Therefore, if you are leaving you must give your landlord formal notice of your intentions. Doing so by registered letter is usually the easiest way.
If you have a fixed term contract you may not be able to leave before the end of your term, without having to pay the outstanding rent.
2. Inform the authorities
You will need to advise the local authorities at the town hall of your leaving date and also the tax authorities. If you are lucky you may even be entitled to a tax refund!
3. Cancel utilities
Formally give notice and terminate any contracts with utility providers, television, Internet and phone companies. Do this at least 3-4 weeks in advance, as some providers require several weeks’ notice. Also cancel any insurance contracts that will no longer be required. You may be entitled to a refund for any outstanding periods but you can also get an accident record showing whether you were responsible for any accidents. If you have had a good record this can help when taking out a new policy.
4. Fix any damage
Check the condition of the property against the inventory and repair any damage or make good any loss to avoid deductions to your security deposit. Allowance is made for normal wear and tear, existing faults or forces beyond the tenant’s control (force majeure).
If you do not have an inventory you may lose out in the event of a dispute over the condition of the property. The law is often on the side of the landlord, so if no inventory exists then the tenant is presumed to have received the property in good condition and the landlord is likely to receive the benefit of the doubt in the event of a dispute. However, if you have evidence of the property’s poor condition, such as in photographs, this will be taken into consideration.
Hopefully you will have conducted an inventory (inventario) with the landlord. When you are leaving rented accommodation you are required to pay for a professional clean, unless you can do a thorough enough job yourself.
6. Show tenants around
Your landlord may ask you to show prospective tenants around. It is usually better to facilitate reasonable requests to ensure you maintain the relationship with your landlord, which in turn can help to smooth the path towards getting your deposit back.
7. Keep your bank account open
This will allow you your landlord to forward your deposit (fianza)(less any deductions for damages). Additionally, keeping your account open will enable any subsequent transactions to be processed, such as refunds from utility providers or tax authorities. Remember though to cancel any standing orders or direct debits.
8. Re-direct your Post
It can be useful to have your mail forwarded (reexpedir) to your new address. You can do this by paying a visit to your local post office and advising them of both your old and new addresses.
9. Get your deposit returned
This will usually be one month’s rent and should be held by an independent agency, sometimes the housing department of the local government (Consejeria de la Vivienda). The deposit will not be released unless both parties agree. Usefully, if there is an unreasonable delay in the landlord returning the deposit then the legal rate of interest can be applied as a penalty.
10. Return the keys
Don’t forget to give these back, either directly to the landlord or to the bailiff. You’re done!
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