Your Rental Rights

By Emily Dickson

Many people choose to rent a property in Spain, before taking the plunge and making a purchase.

Some expats though prefer to have the flexibility of continuing to rent, and there will be times when there will be damage to the property, with the issues of who is liable to pay for repairs.

In principle, and as a general rule, it is the landlord who must pay for all those occasional repairs that are necessary to keep the property in habitable conditions, following the provisions of Article 21.1 of the “LAU” (Urban Leases Act).

It states:-“The lessor is obliged to carry out, without the right to raise the rent, all the repairs that are necessary to preserve the dwelling in habitable conditions to serve the agreed use, except when the deterioration of the repair is attributable to the tenant in accordance with the provisions of the Civil Code”.

Tenants have  the obligation to tell their landlord about “the need for repairs as soon as possible and to provide the appropriate proof about the state of the property”, so that appropriate measures can be taken.

In some cases, if the repair is urgent “to avoid imminent damage or serious discomfort”, the tenant may act on his own, but always with some “prior communication to the landlord”, after which he may immediately ask to be reimbursed for the cost.

If the repairs are due to damage attributable to the tenant, then this an exception to the law, but there is also an interesting clause, namely Article 21.4: “small repairs that are needed because of wear and tear due to the ordinary use of the property would be paid for by the tenant”.

Some confusion is generated between conservation and repair works and improvement works. The difference is that any improvements are not strictly necessary to guarantee the livability of the property, i.e. they are carried out to improve its characteristics, or as a result of an agreement between the owners of the building.

According to the Urban Leases Act, the landlord may carry out improvement work, even if there is a tenant in the property, provided that the work “cannot reasonably be postponed until the end of the lease”.

In addition, landlords must give tenants three months notice, and in such a scenario, the tenant is allowed to end the contract, “unless the work do not affect the rental property or affect it in an irrelevant way”.

Also if a tenant stays during such work, they would be entitled to a reduction of rent during that period.

There are rules aplenty for both landlords and tenants which are designed to protect their rights, and so an expert looking over the Urban Leases Act on your behalf may not be a bad thing!