Deposits When Renting Spanish Property
The third feature in or series of blog posts relating to rental property will focus on deposits paid at the start of a rental property, and how to get them back when you leave the property. When renting a house or flat in Spain, you will have to pay a deposit on the first day of the rental period, or beforehand. The cost of renting a new flat is usually the first month’s rent, perhaps an agency fee and also a deposit. The deposit value, by law, is equivalent to one month’s rent.
In some cases in Spain, when leaving the property, ex-tenants have problems receiving the full deposit amount back from the landlord. Our lawyers have prepared this article to provide advice to people looking to rent in Spain, or those who are considering leaving their rental property and would like to be aware of their rights regarding the devolution of their deposit.
The Law which relates to the deposits on rental property in Spain is in article 36.1 of the Ley de Arrendamientos Urbanos (LAU), from 1994. Below are some key factors to consider in relation to the deposit for rental properties.
- Value of the deposit According to Spanish law, the deposit paid upon entry to a rental property should be equivalent to one month’s rent, for a habitual property (arrendamiento de vivienda), otherwise it can be equivalent to two months or more, in cases of the property being rented for different purposes.
- Changes or updates to the deposit. When the contract is less than three years old, the deposit will not be able to be updated. However, if a contract is extended, the deposit can be increased or decreased by the landlord or tenant. Our solicitors in Spain note that changes to the deposit will likely follow changes to the rent paid by the tenant each month. Our lawyers state that if the rental period exceeds the period of three years, changes can be decided by both parties. Upon a change in the cost of rent, it is probable that there would be an increase or decrease in the deposit accordingly.
- When should my deposit be returned to me? The deposit should be returned once you have left the property. The tenant must return the keys on the last day of the tenancy. A full check of the property should take place (on the same day), to check for any damage. Some landlords may take time to also check bills, deducting money for outstanding or excessive bills, if they were included in the rent. If after the one month period for the devolution of the deposit the ex-tenant has not received a payment, or their deposit was not received in full, the tenant may like to proceed with legal action.Here at Piñera Canals, we receive many questions from people who have not received their deposit repayment. Our solicitors can help you with the legal process to reclaim your deposit.
- Which circumstances will result in my deposit not being returned in full? When you leave your rental property, the landlord has the right to keep part of the deposit for any bills which have been left unpaid, or where the utility usage exceeds the amount included in the tenancy agreement. Furthermore, should there be damage to the property, the landlord may keep some of the deposit to cover repairs. Sometimes, landlords may retain part of the deposit if you have left the property before the end of the contract. It is important to check your contract carefully, preferably with the help of a Spanish lawyer, to be aware of the circumstances in which your deposit may be retained. Our lawyers in Spain note that you should always receive proof of bills or charges which the landlord is deducting from your payment.If you have not received your deposit back in full after one month, with no reason or evidence from your landlord for any deductions, you will be able to take legal action in order to reclaim the deposit.The reasons a deposit may not be returned in full include:
- Unpaid rent
- Fines for leaving the flat earlier than anticipated. You should not be charged if you have been renting for over six months and give at least 30 days notice of your departure.
- Damage to the property. If there is any damage to the property (eg. A broken toilet seat, damage to the walls).
- What constitutes damage to the property? Spanish law relating to deposits states that any minor reparations to a rented property which are due to normal use are the tenant’s own responsibility (for example, if a lightbulb stops working, it would be their responsibility to buy a replacement bulb). However, if something larger has broken or been damaged through the tenant’s incorrect use, vandalism, or the clear fault of the tenant, it is also their responsibility to cover the reparations. Sometimes, there can be disagreements for who is to blame for damage to the property. The tenant may argue that the damage was present when they moved in, whilst the landlord may argue otherwise. The best thing to do, should you have problems recovering a deposit, is to contact a lawyer in Spain for trustworthy advice. Our lawyers are experienced in this field and will be able to provide help regarding your case.
- Is there any deposit protection provided by the government here in Spain? There are multiple deposit protection schemes available in Spain. In Catalonia, for example, the institution INCASOL (Institut Català del Sòl) acts as a scheme to protect tenant’s deposits. The landlord must submit the deposit to this scheme when the tenant first moves in. Click Here to visit the website for INCASOL for more information.
- Can I pay the last month of my tenancy using the deposit? Some people may be advised to not pay the last month of rent, instead using the deposit as the final month’s rent. This avoids deposit recovery problems, as the deposit will have been used up for the rental money. Whilst this could be something you consider to do, it is not always advisable and should be chosen at your own risk.
- What can I do if the deposit is not returned to me? You should ask for evidence of any bills or damage for which they are refusing to return the deposit to you. The bills or damage should be looked at carefully. Unfortunately, in Spain, in particular in Barcelona, it is not uncommon for the landlord to refuse to return the deposit. Should you have problems relating to the devolution of a deposit, please do not hesitate to contact our English speaking lawyers in Spain. To find the best outcome for you, some cases can be negotiated with the landlord, whilst others may require court proceedings in order to assess the deposit and the reasons for not returning the full amount.
Should you need further information, or legal advice, please do not hesitate to contact our lawyers. You can contact us by using the contact form below, by emailing email@example.com, or by telephoning +34 93 514 39 97.
Disclaimer: This information in this article is not definitive, for up to date legal advice which is relevant for your case please contact us.