When letting property, you should be aware of both your rights and those of the tenant, to avoid potential problems.
Under the 1994 Law of Urban Leases (Ley de Arrendamientos Urbanos), rental contracts in Spain generally protect the tenant’s interests over the landlord’s, but there is some flexibility within the law to enable landlords to limit tenants’ rights and raise rent above the rate of inflation.
If a landlord wishes to sell rented property, a tenant has a preferential right (derecho de tanteo) to buy it for the asking price. The landlord is required to offer the property to the tenant, who has 30 days to reply. If the property is not offered, or is sold for a lower price than the asking price, the tenant has another 30 days, after completion, to have the sale annulled or to exercise the right to purchase for the lower selling price. A tenant’s right to buy, however, can be expressly waived in primary residence contracts, allowing landlords to sell subject to just 30 days’ notice.
Unless otherwise stipulated by the parties to the contract, rent can only be raised on an annual basis during the term of the contract at the rate of the inflation, but if a landlord carries out improvement work, increases of up to 20% over a period of 12 months are permitted, in line with stipulated standards.
A landlord may be able to terminate the contract before term in certain cases (non-payment of rent, unlawful subletting, deliberate damage, repairs or alterations without the landlord’s consent, nuisance to neighbours), but will need a court order against the tenant for this to be executable.
We recommend you always have a lawyer draw up the rental contract, to include as much protection as possible within the law, and act on your behalf in the case of any dispute with tenants.
Since June 2013, landlords have greater powers to evict tenants who do not pay rent. Proceedings can begin after just one month of arrears. The court will notify tenants of a demand and they have 10 days to settle the debt in full or lodge an appeal.
If expressly agreed in the contract by both parties, non-payment can be grounds for immediate termination, pending judicial or notarial order. If tenants settle debts at any time during proceedings, however, the original contract will continue to apply.
In practice, due to problems notifying tenants and judicial delays, the average period to regain possession of a property, by court eviction order, is 6-9 months.