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Home Housing Renting Renting a home in Spain
Last update on 31/10/2022
Megan Janicke Written by Megan Janicke

Thinking about renting in Spain but not sure where to start? Read about where to live, finding a rented home, and how much it will cost you.

Finding a place to live will likely be one of your first big decisions if you’re moving to Spain to study, work, or even retire. As such, you’ll have a lot of questions about the housing market, finding rented accommodation, and your rights while renting in Spain. Uncover those answers and much more with sections including:

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Renting in Spain

Spain is a very affordable place to live compared to many neighboring countries in western Europe. That said, you might find that rental costs can take a big bite out of your monthly salary. Since most homes in Spain are owner-occupied, renting in Spain can be competitive and expensive. Rent prices have risen by more than 50% since 2014. In 2021, Spain passed new laws aimed at improving the rental housing market. The Ley por el Derecho a la Vivienda (Right to Housing Law) allows regional governments to impose rent caps in areas where the market is tight. It also penalizes rental property owners who leave multiple units unrented for long periods. 

Balconies on a modern apartment building in Ibiza. Palm trees.
Photo: Simi Ilyuomade / Unsplash

Renters in Spain tend to be young adults. In addition, most homes in Spain are in apartment buildings or other multifamily buildings. In the past, individual property owners usually managed the rental. However, more professional landlords and commercial companies have entered the market in recent years. 

Buying vs. renting in Spain

Spain does not have any restrictions against foreigners who want to buy property in the country. As such, many expats choose to buy a home in Spain. However, you should be aware that Spain has a high property gains tax. Therefore, a home purchase may not be a wise short-term investment. 

If you aren’t planning to live in Spain for very long, you may want to rent housing instead. Renting is also a good way to get to know the country and decide where you’d like to live long-term. 

Madrid

As in most large cities, Madrid’s rental properties are generally in multi-household buildings. Rental costs in Madrid are among the highest in Spain but can vary based on the neighborhood. According to the price survey site Numbeo, a one-bedroom apartment in Madrid city center typically rents for €800–1,300 per month. On the other hand, you can rent a three-bedroom flat outside the city center for a similar price, or a one-bedroom for €600–1,000.

As Madrid is very popular with expats, you might want to try a local rental agency such as Moving2Madrid to help you navigate the competitive market. Madrideasy also offers complete apartments, shared housing, and even homestays

Barcelona

Rental prices are higher in Barcelona than in many other cities in Spain. However, the costs are still lower compared to other top European destinations. According to Numbeo, rental prices are nearly 40% higher in Amsterdam. If you rent a one-bedroom apartment in the center of Barcelona, you can expect to pay between €800 and 1,220. A three-bedroom is €1,300–2,325. 

You could also save money by renting in one of the smaller towns directly outside of Barcelona. In that case, you could see rental prices of €650–900 for a one-bedroom and €1,100–1,685. Local rental agencies in Barcelona and the surrounding region include:

Skyline of Barcelona with many old apartment buildings in the foreground
Photo: Erwan Hesry / Unsplash

Valencia

The costs of renting in Spain’s third-largest city are lower than in Madrid and Barcelona. For a one-bedroom apartment in the city center, you can find rental prices from €550 to 1,000. A three-bedroom is €1,100-1,500. You will pay several hundred euros less per month by renting outside of the city center. 

Check these local agencies for long-term rentals around Valencia:

Types of property to rent in Spain

When you are searching for rental properties in Spain, you will find four main types of housing:

  • Apartment or flat (piso) – the main option for rentals in Spain’s large cities. Sizes range from small studio apartments to two-story duplexes (maisonette) and luxury penthouses.
  • Townhouse (casa adosada) – also known as a terraced or semi-detached house. You will normally find townhouses on the outskirts of cities. It’s common for townhouses to have shared outdoor spaces and perhaps even a swimming pool, especially if they are in touristic areas.
  • Villa – detached homes more commonly found in coastal towns. They tend to be second homes for Spaniards or holiday homes for foreigners. Villas may form part of a residential complex and have a communal pool and other amenities. They could also include a private pool and garden.
  • Farmhouses or estates (casa rural/finca) – for people who want to live in the Spanish countryside. Since property in rural Spain is much more affordable than in the cities and coastal resort areas, you may be able to find a large home to rent with a lot of outdoor space.

You will probably also see properties described as either furnished or unfurnished. Furnished can be a loose description in Spain, so it is a good idea to ask about specific appliances and furniture before you sign the rental contract. If a property listing describes the home as ‘unfurnished’ (sin amueblar), it may not come with any appliances. 

Finding a place to rent in Spain

As with other countries, the most common ways to find a house or apartment to rent in Spain are through an estate agent (inmobiliarias), online property portals, your personal network, and social media groups. You may also find properties listed on real estate websites based in other countries, particularly the UK and Germany. However, these will often be targeted at tourists and may therefore be more expensive.

Spain rental property agencies 

If you use an agency to help you rent in Spain, you should look for companies with accreditation, registered in the Official School of Estate Agents (Colegio Oficial de Agentes de la Propiedad Inmobiliaria or API). They should feature the API logo on their website. 

It’s also a good idea to go for an agency that’s registered with an association such as MLS, ACI, or AIM. Some well-known agencies that provide services throughout Spain are:

White balconies on housing in Torrevieja
Photo: Ralph (Ravi) Kayden / Unsplash

Online rental portals 

You have many options for online rental portals in Spain. However, that also means that scammers have plenty of opportunities to commit property fraud. Beware of listings that seem too good to be true. You also should never send anyone money upfront without a written agreement. 

Here are some popular online portals for renting in Spain:

Student housing in Spain

Spanish universities generally provide student accommodation in student residence halls (Colegios Mayores) or student apartments. Costs vary according to the accommodation’s location and facilities.

That said, some direct enrollment programs leave it up to students to find a living space during their study program in Spain. If that’s the case, you should start your rental housing search as soon as you can.  Student housing websites include:

How to rent a property in Spain

Before you put down a deposit to rent in Spain, you should check the state of the property. If you can’t tour the house or apartment in person, you should have the rental agent or landlord give you a live video tour. This way, you can ensure the advertisement photos are not overly touched up or even fake. 

You can use a property registration website to verify that the person you are renting the property from is the owner and not someone illegally subletting or committing housing fraud. Furthermore, you should find out what is included in the rental – for example, any furnishings, appliances, window coverings, and utility costs

Expect to put down the equivalent of at least one month’s rent when you apply with the property agency or property owner. This is usually rolled into your deposit when you have signed the contract and moved in.

An agency will typically ask prospective renters to provide:

Rental costs in Spain

Your costs for renting in Spain will vary depending on if you live in a large city, the coastal areas, or outside of the popular areas of the country. That said, here are some approximate costs.

Monthly rent

According to Numbeo, these are the average monthly costs for rental apartments, excluding utilities. 

  • 1-bedroom in the city center: €750
  • 1-bedroom outside the city center: €600
  • 3-bedrooms in the city center: €1,250
  • 3-bedrooms outside the city center: €950

Of course, an apartment in the center of Barcelona or Madrid will likely be more expensive than the average. Utility costs are generally between €120 to €150 for an apartment. 

An estate agent showing a couple around a flat in Valencia. White walls, colored tiled floor.

Rental deposit

You will almost certainly need to pay a deposit to your landlord before moving into your home. By law, the deposit amounts to one month’s rent. Here are some examples of what the landlord might also ask for:

  • One or more additional payments of rent
  • A bank guarantee – this is an alternative deposit that the bank pays on behalf of the tenant to the landlord in case of non-payment of the rent.
  • A written guarantee from the employer – this is a kind of certificate in which the employer guarantees the payment of the rent to the landlord if the tenant stops paying.

Do not pay the deposit in cash. It is better to transfer the money electronically, so you have proof of the transaction. According to Spain’s Landlord and Tenant Law, landlords must declare the deposit to an administrative authority within the respective autonomous community so that it can be protected.

Agency/administration fees

If you find a property to rent in Spain through an estate agent, it’s important to know that they’re usually paid by the landlord. However, if you specifically ask an agent to find you a property, you can expect to pay for this service. These costs are either a fixed fee or a percentage of the monthly rent. This will typically be between €250 to a full month’s rent.

Other costs

In addition to the rent, expect to pay for utilities and minor repairs due to wear and tear. Your contract should be clear about what is and isn’t included in the monthly payment. Utilities for a two-bedroom apartment in Spain are typically around €50–150 per month, depending on energy efficiency, usage, and type of utilities. Every rental property in Spain must now have an energy performance certificate (EPC). This can help you to determine how energy efficient your rental house will be. 

You may also need to pay annual or monthly fees for maintenance of communal areas and local charges, such as garbage collection. Although not required by law, it is a good idea to take out renter’s insurance (seguro para inquilinos) to protect your personal property. This will protect your belongings in case of fire or water damage. Policies can also include protections against theft and vandalism. 

Help with costs

If you have trouble paying your monthly rent, you can talk to your local housing authorities to see if you are eligible for a subsidy or payment assistance. For example, in Barcelona, you can contact the city Housing Office

Spain recently announced that the government will provide rental assistance to renters who are ages 18 to 35 and earn less than €23,725 per year. Eligible renters will receive €250 a month for up to two years.

Social housing in Spain

Social housing in Spain is called Vivienda de Protección Oficial (VPO – officially protected housing). However, only around 1.1% of the country’s rental properties are social housing. That’s much lower than many other OECD countries. 

Eligibility for social housing to rent in Spain can vary depending on where you live and your income level. If you have access to other accommodation, you won’t be eligible. The Spanish authorities prioritize people with disabilities and dependents for social housing. Foreigners who have Spanish residency can apply. Since the regulations and procedures vary by city and region, you should check with the local authorities that oversee housing in your area to apply. For example, in Barcelona, you can apply through the Councillor’s office for Housing and Renovation

Tenancy contracts in Spain

A rental agreement in Spain (contrato de arrendamiento) is valid whether verbal or written. Of course, a written contract is a much more secure option. A short-term rental agreement (contrato de arrendamiento de temporada) is for up to a year and is not extendable. A long-term (arriendo de vivienda) rental contract is for 12 months or longer, and you can renew it annually. If you don’t want to continue a one-year rental agreement, you should give notice 30 days before the contract ends. You can find examples of long-term rental agreements (in Spanish) online.

Cream-colored old-fashioned apartment façades in Madrid
Photo: Abbie Bernet / Unsplash

Here are the basic timelines for renewing and ending rental agreements in Spain:

  • If your landlord is a private individual, you can renew a long-term rental for up to five years.
  • If a registered company owns the property, you can renew for up to seven years.
  • Give two months’ notice if you wish to move out at the end of a five or seven-year contract.  

The landlord must give four months’ notice to end your tenancy. Otherwise, you automatically have the right to stay for up to three more years. If you terminate any housing rental contract early, you will likely owe rent for the agreed-upon rental term.

Tenant rights and obligations

You should, of course, check the terms of your rental contract carefully before you sign it. Bear in mind that short-term rentals are heavily regulated in Spain and require a special license. As such, you should not assume that you will be allowed to sublet your rental housing. 

The Spanish authorities can hold a landlord legally responsible for shutting off utilities, changing the locks, or otherwise restricting a tenant’s use of the property. Rent can increase once per year, but your landlord must give you one month’s notice in writing, and this increase must not be higher than the current rate of inflation.

If the property owner decides to sell the property during your rental contract, they must inform you at least 30 days before selling it. You also have the right of first refusal and withdrawal, providing your home is not being sold as part of a larger property. This means the landlord must first ask you, the tenant if you want to buy it. If you are not interested in buying it, your contract will be subrogated to the new owner until it ends.

Some landlords allow you to make small improvements to the rental property, but be sure to get written permission first. You may end your tenancy early, as long as you give 30 days’ notice. Bear in mind that you will also need to pay a month’s rent for every year left on the contract.

Landlord rights and obligations

Spain’s housing laws provide many protections for renters. For example, the landlord must carry out repairs that keep the home in a habitable condition. If this is not the case, or your landlord causes disturbance to your living there, you may terminate your contact. In addition, your landlord may not enter the property without giving you notice and asking permission.

A landlord may end your contract if you do not pay the rent or deposit or sublet the property without permission. In addition, if you damage the home, make excessive noise, or carry out illegal activities on the property, you might be at risk of eviction. When it comes to evictions, the landlord must file a lawsuit to force the tenant to leave the property.

Utilities and telecommunications in Spain

If utilities aren’t included in your Spanish rental agreement, you’ll probably be free to choose your own provider or transfer the existing connections into your name. Most households use electricity (luz) rather than gas for home energy in Spain. You can choose an energy provider from the free market (mercado libre) or the regulated market (mercado regulado). If you’re unsure of your local options, you can search online, ask in a local expat forum, or even contact the providers directly. There are a number of price comparison websites operating in Spain to help you find the best choice for your household. 

You also have many options if you also need to set up your telephone, internet, or television subscription in your rental home. 

Some of the leading telecoms providers in Spain include:

  • Movistar
  • Orange
  • Jazztel
  • Vodafone
  • Yoigo

Moving in and moving out in Spain

Before you move your belongings into a new home, make sure you inspect the empty house and take photographs of any damage. This way, you can protect yourself against charges for any problems that occurred before you moved in.

When you want to move out, you will typically need to notify your landlord at least 30 days before the end of the rental agreement. The notice period is two months for five and seven-year rental contracts. Make sure you give your notice and receive confirmation in writing. Before moving out, you should also request an inspection from your landlord or the property management. By doing so, you can highlight any issues and find out about any repairs you need to make to get your full deposit back. For example, if you have painted walls or put up shelves, you may need to return the property to its original condition.

If you need help with your move, it’s a good idea to hire a professional. You can find plenty of removal companies online, or find individuals who can assist you on platforms such as TaskRabbit. They also offer cleaners, who can give you a hand with cleaning, if necessary.

couple moving, renting in spain

Your landlord must return your deposit within one month of moving out or pay you interest. They can, however, make a claim to withhold some of the deposit to fix any damage to the property. A third party can mediate any disputes that arise from the return of the deposit.

Where to go in the event of a dispute

If you have a dispute with your landlord in Spain, you can learn more about your tenant rights and ask for free legal advice with the Citizens Advice Bureau. Disagreements between landlords and tenants in Spain are typically handled in civil court

Renting out your home in Spain

It is important to realize that you should only rent out your home in Spain if you own it. Subletting without your landlord’s permission could violate the terms of your rental contract. 

Housing rentals are heavily regulated in Spain. The laws vary according to property location and the duration of the rental agreement. If you rent out your property, you must declare the rental income for your Spanish taxes. You must report the income quarterly if you are a non-resident.

Before renting out your property as a short-term or vacation rental, you should check your local regulations to avoid paying steep fines. The local tourism authorities will be your first contact, and you generally need to obtain an official license. Your property must also adhere to certain technical and safety requirements. For example, all rental housing in Spain must have an energy performance certificate.  In some areas, you may only rent out your property to visitors for a maximum number of days per year.

Renting out your property long-term restricts when you can access and sell the property. As a landlord, you may only evict tenants if they do not pay the rent, cause damage to the property, the contract comes to an end, there is no contract (desahucio por precario), in the case of squatting, or if the tenants are engaging in illegal activities. Normally, rental disputes are dealt with by civil courts (juzgados de primera instancia). You will likely need a Spanish lawyer to help you navigate the legal process. You can get a Spanish insurance policy against damages caused by tenants, non-payment (seguro de impago de alquiler), and even civil litigation.  

Tips for renters in Spain

Here are some quick tips to keep in mind when renting in Spain:

  • Always be sure you can view a property in person before you put down a deposit.
  • Use a property registration website to verify that the person you are renting the property from is the legal owner.
  • Know exactly what is included in the rental fee, such as utility costs, furniture, and household appliances.
  • Get your rental contract in writing, and be sure you fully read and understand the terms of the agreement. Beware of any abusive clauses.
  • Ensure that your deposit will be held by a third party, as required by Spanish law.
  • Before moving in, carry out a thorough inspection of the property and document any damage with photographs.
  • Insure your personal belongings in the home with renter’s insurance.
  • Request an inspection of the property before moving out to ensure your deposit is returned to you in the full amount.

Useful resources