If you’re a tenant who has a contract to rent a property, or you’re going to have one soon, or you’re a landlord who has to draw one up, it’s important that it has at the bare minimum the landlord’s and the tenant’s information and any other specific terms and conditions. What else should appear in your rental contract?
The deposit: This is normally a month’s worth of rent, which the tenant needs to pay the landlord in cash at the start of the rental period. It will be returned when the contract ends as long as there’s no damage or nothing too wrong with the property, in which case the corresponding amount to pay for the damages will be taken out of this deposit. The landlord cannot keep the deposit for themselves but must pass it on to the appropriate authorities in their Autonomous Community. In addition to the deposit, a landlord may ask for other guarantees like a guarantor who can pay if the tenant can’t or some insurance payment on the property.
The rent: The exact amount of monthly rent to be paid is negotiable and, unless otherwise specified, needs to be paid within the first seven days of each month. It can be paid in cash, by bank transfer or standing order. Under no circumstances can the landlord demand more than a month’s rent in advance.
Contract length: This can be as long or as short as the two parties agree to make it. There is often a clause which obliges the tenant to stay for a minimum period of one year, with a penalty to pay if they leave before. However, the tenant has the legal right to terminate the contract after six months but must express this in writing ahead of time.
Changes to the rent: By law, the two parties of the contract, the landlord and the tenant, are free to renegotiate and update the terms of the rental agreement over time, including the amount to be paid, normally using the National Consumer Price Index (Índice de Precios al Consumidor or IPC) as a reference for how much it should be.
Expenses: The general expenses and community costs for the building, as well as the taxes for the flat, are the landlord’s responsibility and must be clearly stated in the contract. The electric, gas and water bills which are counted with a meter reading are to be paid by the tenant.
Repairs and maintenance work: If small repair works need to be done for the normal, everyday usage of the property, the tenant should pay for them. For bigger and more structural repairs, however, the owner of the property is responsible unless they were caused by the tenant.
Tenants with disabilities: If the tenant, their partner, spouse or family members who live with them have special disability needs, they are entitled to make all the changes to the property that are deemed necessary as long as they inform the owner in writing beforehand. The landlord, in turn, is entitled to request that the property be returned to its former state at the end of the contractual period.