Are you considering renting in Spain? Then in this complete guide you will find everything you need to know. We will navigate through the most important issues to consider. From market conditions to apartment prices, where to find a flat and which are the legal clauses and requirements you will need to meet. Including some really useful tips at the end that have helped tons of expats in Spain!
The Spanish rental market
Let’s start providing a general overview of the Spanish rental market that will help you understand later sections.
First of all, we are talking about a market that is not quite advanced and whose main characteristic is a lack of trust.
Traditionally tenants have gained the fame of being bad payers. Being because they usually pay late (or not pay at all), landlords have become more and more skeptic and in search of legal protection.
This, for sure, has affected the market.
First of all, nowadays the vast majority of landlords reach out to real estate agencies to act as intermediaries. This ensures that they get paid at the end of each month, as they are not the ones directly in contact with the tenant. Of course, and as we will see below, this affects the total price the renter has to pay.
On the other hand, this reluctancy to trust the roomer has made that many properties that were the result of real estate investments have become completely empty and nearly forgotten. With the aim to avoid legal conflict, many owners decided not to rent. This puts pressure on prices, as usually the demand is not matched with enough offer.
Most common rental behaviors
And what about the conditions of the typical rental?
What you need to know is that in Spain what you rent the vast majority of the time is a flat (or apartment), and not a big house.
Sizes differ from 1 to 3 bedrooms, but during the past years, the size of the flats rented has been going down. The result? The average flat size is 90 square meters with 2 bedrooms. And for 1 bedroom apartments (which are also typical), size can go down until 50-60 square meters.
We are mentioning this last point as it is really common in Spain to just rent one room inside a shared flat. It’s the case of foreign citizens who come to the country for their Erasmus or masters; or for individuals in search of a job.
Types of rental contracts
Finally, you should be aware that there are two types of contracts:
- First of all, we find the short-term contracts (called “contrato de arrendamiento de temporada” in Spanish), which go from 6 months (minimum) until 1 year (maximum). Those have lower legal protections.
- And on the other hand, we find long-term contracts (“arriendo de vivienda”), which last for longer than a year.
Where to look for a flat? Find a property to rent
Let’s now move to the first step of the process: finding a flat to rent.
In general, you have three different options.
The first one is to walk down the street in those areas that you most enjoy our would like living, and search for rental property billboards announcing that the flat is for rent. They are usually red or orange, and have the words “se alquila” plusa phone number to contact. If you are interested in that particular flat, you just need to call that number and ask for additional information.
The second alternative is going to a real estate agency. They have tons of properties listed, so finding the right option for you is somewhat easy. The problem is that they will charge you a commission, being as an extra rental month payment once you enter into the flat, or as an extra percentage of your rent each month. Hence, our advice is that you avoid agencies and go to directly talk to the landlord/property owner. It will save you money!
Finally, the third option is searching online in any of the portals out there. The main ones are:
Searching inside those will enable you to cover nearly 95% of all listings in the area, so those are more than enough.
Nevertheless, bear in mind that during the past years, real estate agencies have also been moving to those platforms, so finding a landlord inside them is more tricky nowadays.
Best areas to rent
Once you start looking for apartments you will start asking yourself which is the best area to do so.
You will find pretty good offers, but perhaps you are not 100% convinced about its location.
Which is the rule to follow here?
As always, it depends. Obviously, the closest to the city center, the more action, and dynamism. But the higher the prices.
What we can suggest is that you carefully look for locations that have good public transport connections. In big cities like Madrid or Barcelona, having a metro station nearby is crucial, as those lines work fast and perfectly well. So having a metro stop in front of your door is of great value.
Also, having a big supermarket close by is perhaps another important checkmark. In the end, you will be going there every now and then, so it can avoid tedious movements.
Nevertheless, something you can also do that will be highly beneficial is to ask others that were in the same situation before.
If you go to Facebook, there are tons of expat groups in any of the Spanish cities.
Search for your local group, join, and ask its members for their recommendations. That will provide really useful insights!
This is for sure one of the most important things to consider: how much should you pay to rent a flat in the Spanish territory?
The bad news is that there is no fixed answer.
Rental prices vary drastically according to many factors. Those factors are the city in which you are renting, the location inside that city (the closer to the city center, the more you’ll pay), if the flat is interior or exterior (it has windows facing the street or not), if it has public transport connections nearby, the flat size, etc.
Besides, and as we saw in our article about the real estate market predictions, prices can vary widely from one year to another.
Nevertheless, as we are sure that you need at least a vague reference, here are the numbers:
- Renting a single room in a shared flat can cost you between 200 to 600€ per month (being the expensive extreme not really common even though we are talking about big cities).
- Studios or flats for two individuals can cost from 500 to1000€ per month.
Usually, flats are comprehensive and already have a washing machine and fridge, so you won’t need to pay that extra. They are usually also fully furnished, with complete kitchen and utensils.
Finally, the good news is that there is always room for negotiation. If you directly go to a landlord, it is possible to negotiate and get a reduced price than what you saw online.
Cost of renting and monthly bills
Even though there’s a fixed monthly price you need to pay as a rental, that’s not the whole story.
Apart from that, is it highly possible that you will need to pay extra.
So the first thing to consider here is your contract, as paying extra or not will hugely depend on that.
There are some rentals that with the fixed monthly price you get everything included: light, gas, water, wifi, etc.
Nevertheless, other times those utilities must be paid separately. It can be that just water is included, or just electricity, or both but you still need to pay for the internet, etc. Each contract is a different world.
That is why you should take that into consideration, carefully read the contract, and negotiate with the landlord.
In case you are sharing a flat, the usual thing is to divide the total cost of the monthly utility bills into each tenant.
Nevertheless, that is something that shouldn’t scare you. In Spain, utilities are not expensive. Water services are cheap, and finding a bundled package that includes both house internet and sim card is also possible.
So in case your contract did not include ANY kind of utility, you could expect to pay, maximum (and for the whole thing), from 50 to 150€ per month.
Then, there is also a special type of extra cost that could exist: community expenses.
Suppose that the flat where you live has a common swimming pool are any other shared space like a garden or park. Usually, those areas have maintenance costs, which have to be paid by the whole neighbor community every single month.
It is possible that your rental price already includes that cost, or that you need to pay it apart.
Finally, you can also expect to pay small reparations like any water damage, in case your contract does not contemplate that.
If you thought that we had finished talking about costs, you were wrong.
There is still one final price you will need to pay when entering a rental property: the entry deposit (in Spanish called “fianza”).
How much is it?
There are two different possible scenarios here.
- First of all, if you are dealing directly with the owner, you usually need to pay, before entering the flat, 1-month deposit, and 1-month rent in advanced. Then, you will pay the rent each month.
- Second, if you are using an agency as an intermediary, then that deposit goes up. You will end up paying 3 months of rent upfront: 1 for the agency (their commission), another one that goes as a deposit for the owner, and the first month of rent.
There is yet another requirement apart from the initial deposit you will need to comply with.
The landlord (or agency in its default), will ask you for proof demonstrating that you can pay the rent every single month.
This is usually done through your payslip, with the need to provide the last 3 ones.
Nevertheless, if you have just arrived to the country and haven’t yet started working, but have a job offer which is already signed, sometimes that can also work as a proper proof.
But what happens if you can’t provide any of those two? Then you have 3 (more complex) options, that will depend on what the owner accepts:
- Sometimes you can pay 6 months of rent in advanced, or any other type of similar big deposit.
- You can also get a guarantor, someone who legally agrees to pay in case you can’t.
- Finally, if you own a property, you can use it as a backup; or get any type of bank guarantee that can pay the rent if you default.
Then, you will also be requested for your passport or ID, and tax identification number in case of working.
Bear in mind you cannot fail with your monthly payments. Otherwise, you may get evicted.
Exiting your flat
It is also worth mentioning the exit conditions.
You must notify the landlord that you are planning to leave, and you must do so minimum 30 days before.
You have the right of doing that in case you haven’t signed a contract that forces you to stay longer.
In that case, you will need to pay for the difference, even though you are not living there anymore. For example, suppose that you agreed to rent for 12 months. On month number 8, you decide to leave. Therefore, you still need to pay the 4 remaining months.
Once you deliver the house keys back, you will be allowed to receive the deposit back.
What we recommend is that you request a house inspection of all the rooms, furniture, and any other element that could be damaged. As you made an initial inventory with everything in the house and took pictures of the current state of the apartment when entering (something you really should do), you will be able to compare with the inspection results.
Once that is done, the landlord will pay the deposit back, even though she legally has 30 days of delay available.
Extra tips that will make everything simple for you
Let’s now dive into some of the tips that will help you rent in Spain while avoiding legal problems:
- First of all, make sure to avoid verbal tenancy contracts. Always go for the written option.
- Carefully read the contract, and never sign without reading. Even though the tenant is putting pressure on you as time is kicking, you always need to give it a profound read as to find any clause that goes against your interests.
- Don’t sign anything and don’t send out any kind of payment without visiting the flat before. In Spain, everything is done face to face, so if you want to avoid scams, go and visit the apartment.
- Try to avoid foreign country real estate listings (those that are not from Spain) when trying to find a flat, as they tend to be much more expensive.
- On the first day you enter the flat, take pictures of everything. Try to get the current status of each and every room, detecting any imperfection, note down if something like the light is not working properly, etc. Register each item and its state. This initial tracking will be crucial to avoid losing part of your deposit when leaving.
- Be quick and ready to give a fast response. In Spain, things move fast. It is possible that on the first day you visit the falt, the landlord asks for the deposit. So make sure to get it ready beforehand, or at least to be ready to provide a response stating if you like the apartment or not.
- Don’t be late with your payments. If you haven’t paid your rent after the 7th of any month, the house owner can legally request the money against at court. The process is really agile, as if the amount to be paid is less than 2.000€, they can claim the money without a lawyer, obtaining a resolution in just two weeks. So make sure to pay when you should.
Should you buy or should you rent?
Another common question.
And, even though there is no right answer, there is the “safest” option.
Our suggestion is simple: start renting out. See if the city fits what you were looking for, and once you fully decide you would like to settle there, consider buying.
Why? Because as we saw in this article, purchasing a property has several costs associated (which can be up to 15% of the property price).
So if you regret your decision later on… that’s a big deal.
Nevertheless, if you still don’t have it clear and would like to get an expert opinion, we are here to help you out.
Our real estate lawyers will answer all your questions, help you revise your rental contract in case you need it, and assist with anything else.
Book a consultation with one of our lawyers and solve all your doubts: