If you’re looking into renting in Spain, find out where and how to rent a Spanish property and what quirks to expect from the Spanish property market.
Although property prices in Spain fell significantly in the years following the financial crash, the effect was not felt as strongly in Spain’s rental market.
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Buying or renting in Spain
Renting a property is a good way to get to know the country and decide where you’d like to live. Renting for a few years before buying is generally a sound course, particularly in the current market.
On the plus side, there are no restrictions on foreigners (resident or non-resident) buying property in Spain. The costs of buying a home are around 15% of property sale price and are primarily paid by the buyer. You can find more information in Expatica’s guide to buying property in Spain.
Find a property in Spain
As with other countries, the most common way to find a house or apartment to rent in Spain is an estate agent (inmobiliarias), online property portals, newspaper adverts or word of mouth.
In addition to the Spanish property portals listed below, you may 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.
If you find a property 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 up to a month’s rent.
Online property portals
- Nestpick (Furnished Apartments & Rooms (English, Spanish, French, German, Italian)
While holiday and short-term lets require a licence, long-term lets don’t. As a result, properties vary in quality and the descriptions vary in accuracy. Property portals that offer languages other than Spanish sometimes use automatic computer translations. Be sure to confirm that the key features exist when you view the property.
Spanish properties are typically advertised with a monthly rent and a living space in square metres. The advert should also indicate whether the property is furnished or not. However, unfurnished properties may be completely bare, have no kitchen appliances, or include a few pieces of furniture left by the landlord.
Likewise, furnished properties can be either comprehensive, including kitchen items, or very basic. If you view the property while the previous tenant is present, make sure you’re clear about which furniture is staying. One option is to email the estate agent to confirm this, getting the answer in writing.
All properties on long-term lets are required to have an energy efficiency certificate. This will often help you spot houses that will be expensive to heat or which are older; new properties will typically have a good energy rating.
Applying for a property in Spain
Expect to apply to an estate agent for a property and to put down the equivalent of one month’s rent when you do. This is usually rolled into your deposit when the contract and moving in are complete.
You will typically be asked to provide:
- Evidence of employment or ability to pay the rent
- Tax identification number (if you are working)
- Passport or ID
- Personal references.
Deposits when renting a Spanish home
Your landlord will almost certainly ask for a deposit of one month’s rent before you move in.
Spanish tenants have the reputation of being bad payers in general. Many Spanish landlords lack trust and may ask for additional guarantees. Here are some examples of what the landlord can 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 the case of non-payment of the rental instalments
- A written guarantee from the employer, a kind of certificate in which the employer guarantees the payment of the rent to the landlord if the tenant stops paying
Paying the rent in Spain
If you fail to pay your rent by the seventh day of the month, the landlord can claim the rent 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. These are short proceedings that take a couple of weeks, after which a legal deed is obtained to execute the claim (executor title). With this title, the landlord can easily claim the overdue payments.
Cost of renting a home in Spain
Deposits in Spain should be held by a third party. This then allows for mediation if there’s a dispute at the end of the tenancy.
In addition to the rent, expect to pay for utilities and minor repairs due to wear and tear. This should be made clear in the contract. Utilities for a two bedroom apartment in Spain are typically around €50–150 per month, depending on energy efficiency, usage and type of utilities. On top of this, there may be annual or monthly fees for maintenance of communal areas and local charges, such as garbage collection.
Tenancy agreements in Spain
In Spain, a tenancy agreement (contrato de arrendamiento) is valid whether verbal or written. Verbal contracts are generally a bad idea, particularly if you don’t speak the language fluently. Instead, insist on having everything in writing so you ensure you fully understand what you’re signing. To break a contract, the lessee must give at least 30 days’ notice before the end date.
Usually, a tenant with a long-term contract has the right to renew annually for three years, unless the landlord states after one year that they intend to occupy the property personally on a given date – two months’ notice must then be given to the tenant. The landlord can increase the rent if improvements are made, as long as the increase meets certain standards and is less than 20% overall.
Typically, a contract will be for 12 months, renewed annually. If you give notice to quit during this period, you’ll have to pay rent until the end of the contract.
The tenant can terminate the rental contract:
- After six months, respecting a notice period of 30 days, regardless of the duration of the contract
- If a clause has been inserted in the rental contract stating that the tenant can terminate the contract at any moment, even before six months are up.
The full details of rental law in Spain are provided on the government website (in Spanish).
Moving out of a rented home in Spain
You are free to agree upon the length of a notice period with your landlords, with the minimum period being 30 days.
As well as having an inventory done at the start of the tenancy, it’s advisable to request an inspection two to four weeks before you leave, to give you time to put any quibbles right and thus regain as much of your deposit as possible.
If you do this, you may be able to get the landlord to give you your deposit back when you return the keys. Otherwise, they have the right to keep it for one month. Any longer and they must pay interest on the funds.
Tenant’s rights and eviction
It is difficult for a landlord to evict a tenant in Spain, even if they stop paying rent, as court proceedings are slow and rent must remain unpaid for an extended period before the landlord can arrange an eviction.
Shutting off utilities, changing the locks or otherwise restricting the tenant’s use of the property is likely to be considered harassment and even a crime in Spain; landlords who do so may face a fine or a jail sentence. Landlords may even be charged with trespassing if they enter the property without permission.