WHAT IF... you rent an apartment in Barcelona?



These are the most usual enquiries I get from foreign people in connection with their rentals in Spain. Please note, this is not an exhaustive paper, and I urge anyone to consult a lawyer about any issue with regard to their agreement.

1.       How long can the tenant stay in the apartment?

According to Spanish Law, tenants have the right to a minimum of a 5-year period (according to last amendment to the Law, and in force by the last correction to this entry,m dated june 2019). 7 years if the Landlord is a real estate firm.
Even if the contract says it is for one year term, the tenant has the right to extend the contract to a period of one year, unless saying otherwise thirty days in advance.

There are exceptions to this rule, nonetheless.

Upon expiry of the one-year extension period, same rule would apply, for another year. This is the minimum the tenant would have right to.

However, if none of the parties (i.e. landlord and tenant) says otherwise before thirty days prior to expiry of the last mandatory (to the landlord) extension, the contract shall be again renewed or extended for another 1-year period.



2.       Is the caution or deposit amount mandatory?

Yes, according to law, tenants must provide a minimum of one month deposit. Agreement between the parties can state otherwise, always observing this minimum. It is most advisable to ascertain that the amount corresponds to the purpose of deposit, and that it shall be refunded upon return of the apartment’s possession. Read the provisions carefully on this regard.



3.       Repairs and maintenance.

Unless there is a reason landlord cannot undertake such repairs, he must undertake all works, maintenance and repairs in connection with the apartment’s purpose.  Unless the repairs are necessary due to tenant’s fault or negligence.

Tenant must on the other hand inform about the damages as soon as they are noticed.



Note: according to case precedents, landlord has no right to keep the deposit to re-paint the apartment for new tenants.  There is no fault or negligence when the maintenance works are caused by a reasonable use of the property.



4.       How and when can I get my deposit back?

Landlord must return the deposit within 30 days upon return of the keys. This is the time landlord would have in order to ascertain condition of the apartment.

It is most advisable to:

a.        list all components of the apartment, and their condition.

b.      Take pictures.

c.       If the condition was already defective it should be stated in an annex to the contract, signed and accepted by both parties.



5.       Can the tenant leave the apartment earlier than agreed?

Of course, and the penalty would not add up to the full agreed term. However please note that, upon six months (with 30 days prior warning), tenants can return the possession with one month penalty for each agreed year pending.

In other words: a minimum of 6 months is expected. After that, tenant would owe one month rental for each year still in the agreement. If the agreement has a 3-year term, tenant would have to pay two and a half months.  



One final note: (And we certainly regret it if somebody has not reached this paragraph) the information above only applies if and only the apartment has the purpose of permanent residence. This means, on the one hand, that the provisions above do not fully apply for vacation rentals and, on the other hand, that they apply even if the rental say vacation but the period, use and purposes lead to consider it was de facto a residential.



Additional note: I have received some enquiries about rentals with buyout option. I will try to develop this topic as soon as possible. 

Disclaimer: this entry is dated Nov. 2017, corrections about maximum term according to Law introduced on June 2019. The author waives and disclaims any responsibility if any of the information provided is inaccurate and/or has been amended and/or modified by later reforms. The author expressly states the information is not exhaustive and has only informational purposes.

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