When signing a rental contract in Spain we have to make sure to pay attention because without realising we may sign clauses that, according to the Urban Leasing Law in force, are illegal and therefore null and void. Barcelona City Council has produced a guide with advice to detect the main abusive clauses in Spanish rental contracts.
Property rental contracts are becoming more and more generic. The tenant has little decision-making power and is susceptible to clauses contrary to the Law on Urban Leases. Identifying these before signing a contract will be very important to save yourself future headaches.
Duration of the contract without fulfilling legal provisions
It is very important that this is correct, as the mandatory duration of a regular rental contract is one of the most important guarantees of the rental contract.
We must bear in mind that the new Law on Urban Leases (art. 9) establishes an obligatory extension of five years, if the lessor is a natural person, and seven years if it is a legal person. This means that a clause that obliges the tenant to leave the dwelling before these deadlines set in the law will be null and void.
A clause stating that after the first five years (or seven years if the tenant is a legal entity), the contract will end without prior notice will also be null and void. The law (art. 10) obliges the owner to extend the contract for a further three years if they don't give prior notice.
Commitment to not leave the property
The law (art.11) establishes the possibility for the tenant to leave within six months of the contract, so the clause that obliges the tenant to continue the rental for longer will be null and void. For example, clauses that oblige the tenant to fulfil the contract for one year will be null and void.
When you leave the property before the contract ends, the law (art. 11) empowers the owner to ask for compensation. The regulations limit this compensation to one monthly payment per year remaining to fulfil the contract. All compensation that is fixed in a contract and that are superior to this limit will be null and void.
Increase in rent during the first five years of the contract
The rent can't be modified during the first five years of the contract. It will only be updated according to the contract. Thus, the clause indicating that the rent will be increased in the event of improvements to the dwelling before the first five years of the contract will be null and void.
Asking for more than one month's rent at a time
The landlord can't ask for more than one month's rent in advance. A clause requesting, for example, the advance payment of three monthly instalments, will be abusive and null and void.
The tenant's duty to fix property reparations
Article 21 of the law states that it is the landlord who is responsible for repairs in the rented dwelling. Tenants are only responsible for repairs caused by misuse and minor wear and tear. Thus, the clause obliging the tenant to repair humidities or water installations, for example, will be null and void.
Expenses for the tenant if the owner is a legal entity
Under the new law, if the landlord is a legal entity, the landlord has to bear the costs of the lease. The clause obliging the tenant to pay the costs in these cases will be null and void.
Owner's access to the property
You must be clear that, for the duration of the contract, the dwelling is your domicile therefore, the owner must guarantee you the peaceful use of it. Art. 18, guarantees your right to the inviolability of the domicile. The clause that imposes that the owner can enter freely into the house is null and void.