We often get asked for help with how to get the deposit back from landlords and how to go about moving out when the lease comes to an end. With the law continually changing it is crucial to get up to date information on these housing matters.
When you sign a rental agreement for a property in Spain, the most you as a tenant must pay to the landlord is one month’s rent as a deposit. If the agreement is for use other than a residence, for example, a business premises, the landlord is entitled to two months’ deposit.
Tenants are also unaware of their rights under the law; for example, tenants have the right to privacy in their own home. Whether you live in a villa or an apartment, your landlord will need to make a prior agreement before entering your home. He cannot turn up unannounced.
If you are using the services of a real estate/estate agent, you can ask upfront for advice on the legal implications of handing over a deposit.
The question we get asked the most is “how long can a landlord hold your deposit after you move out in Spain?” This article covers this question plus many more about tenant rights and rental deposits in Spain and what to do in a case of a landlord taking too long to return deposit.
The law is clear about deposits, and in every issue of a residential rental, the landlord has a strict obligation to keep the deposit separate in an “Autonomous Community Agency”, within one month of signing the lease and the landlord receiving the funds.
Furthermore, the landlord is obligated to return the full deposit, plus interest upon completion of the lease, inspection of the property and the return of the keys.
When can landlord keep security deposit?
Let’s look closely at the circumstances when a landlord refuses to pay back deposit for whatever reason. The landlord may ask for one month rent and an extra month as a security deposit. But precisely what is guaranteed?
For example, there may be stipulations within the contract to allow for wear and tear. Still, when there is damage to the property rendering parts of the property inhabitable and needing repairing, the landlord has some protection. The landlord is obliged to prove the necessity of fixing the damage with relevant invoices.
In the case where the tenant meets all the obligations of the lease, i.e. no damage, all utilities paid to date, and the property is ready to be rented again; the landlord is obligated to return the deposit. If the landlord refuses to return the deposit, and there is no legal reason for the retention, the tenant has the right to make a claim.
Examples where the landlord may retain the deposit include:
- Where the tenant is responsible for damage, directly or indirectly, to the property, then the landlord may retain all or a section necessary to make good the damage to enable him to get the property rented out to another tenant.
- If damage exceeds normal wear and tear, through abnormal use of items that form part of the property, either through negligence or direct damage from the tenant, the tenant’s family or pets.
- Where there are debts from utilities or services.
- According to standard clauses in the contract, for example, if the tenant has missed any month’s rent, or if the tenant breaks the agreement by leaving early.
- Where the tenant has painted the house without permission, in colour not permitted by the landlord, the landlord may deduct the cost of repainting the house to allow it to be rented again from the deposit.
- In the case of cleanliness, the landlord will need to prove that the property was in a good clean state, perhaps with the use of photos to show.
What to do if a landlord keeps your deposit?
Disputes arise, often when the tenant decides to leave and believes he has fulfilled his side of the contract and demands the return of the deposit, the landlord does not see things in the same way. The courts may have to decide, and the tenant may represent himself without the requirement of a lawyer.
On the day of moving out, both landlord and tenant should meet to inspect the property together, because if the matter goes to court and the tenant loses the claim, the tenant will be responsible for the court costs of the landlord.
When there is any dispute, it is crucial to search for an expert who can provide legal advice and information on renting and landlord and tenant law.