Top 8 illegal rental clauses in Spain

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash
Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash
  1. 11-month rental contracts are watertight. Eleven-month contracts are a popular urban myth that somehow manages to perpetuate itself from one year to the next. Such contracts were designed to circumvent the lenient tenant entitlements laid out by Spain’s Urban Tenancy Act (which deals with 12 months renewable contracts). 11-month contracts are void and when challenged at court, a judge will rule they are in fact a long-term contract subject to the LAU, meaning tenants can stay in a property for five or seven years.
  2. Non-renewable 12-month rental contracts. A similar trick to point one above, is to word a long-term rental contract, which constitutes a permanent place of abode, as a non-renewable 12-month contract, forbidding renewals and extensions. Such a clause is null and void on being legally challenged. A tenant is allowed to stay in a property for up to five or seven years, depending on whether his landlord is a physical or legal person.
  3. Cast-iron 12-month rental contract. Following on the above, another frequent illegal clause is to word a contract as a 12-month contract, meaning a tenant cannot pull out of the rental contract ahead of the 12 months for whatever reason. This clause is also null and void following the amendment to Spain’s Urban Tenancy Act. As explained above, a tenant may move out of a property ahead of the 12 months so long as 6 months have gone by. If he pulls before six months are up, the tenant owes the full 6 months by law.
  4. Clause stating all household appliances are in perfect working order. This is such a cheeky clause. Unless you have personally verified that all household and kitchen appliances are working fine before you move in, you should be wary to sign this clause. If you sign it, and anything is broken, a legal presumption is created that the tenant broke it.
  5. Two months' rental deposit. By law, a landlord can only request a one-month rental deposit from a tenant on rental agreements subject to Spain’s Tenancy Act (LAU). Notwithstanding, a landlord is free to request additional guarantees, but they are not labelled as a ‘security deposit’ from a legal point of view. On the other hand, by law, landlords of seasonal contracts must request a minimum of a two-month rental deposit. Often, both type of contracts are confused leading to mistakes.
  6. Right of entry. Frequently, landlords word into a tenancy agreement the right to visit the rented property at their whim giving only a short notice, or none at all. This is in fact null and void. When you lease property, you lose possession. A landlord is forbidden to enter (his own) property without the express written permission of his tenant. Should a landlord disregard this, he can be criminally prosecuted by his tenant for illegal trespassing being remanded into custody.
  7. The tenant is responsible for any damage to the (rented) property. Frequently, landlords word rental contracts in such a way that they make tenants responsible for any and ALL damages to the property. Such a clause is, you guessed it, null and void. Tenants are responsible for paying for the normal wear and tear (normally capped at around 300 euros by our jurisprudence). Landlords pay for any amount over and above this.
  8. In the event of a sale, the tenant must leave. Another common blunder is to word a rental contract in such a way that if the property is sold whilst it is being rented out as a permanent abode, the tenant must leave the property (with his family). This again is null and void. Following Spain’s new rentals laws of 2019, a buyer is forced to respect the outstanding tenancy agreement until it ends (the full five or seven years) even if the contract has not been lodged at the Land Registry. However, landlord and tenant are free to reach an agreement to leave ahead in exchange of a suitable ‘compensation.’

At LNA we can represent you buying, selling or renting out your property in Spain. We have 17 years’ experience in conveyance & tax.

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