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RENTING

5 things no one tells you about renting in Spain

From ancient appliances to dodgy apartment owners, finding a place to live in Spain can be a real nightmare. But before you tear your hair out, guest blogger Cat Gaa is here to lend a helping hand.

I am the first to admit that I did the apartment thing all wrong when I moved to Spain – without so much as seeing the place in person, getting a feel for the neighborhood or even exchanging more than a few emails, I paid a deposit on Seville's Calle Numancia and September’s rent.

Looking back, it was probably not my smartest moment. What if the place was a dump? What if the landlord lived there, too? Would my roommates smoke indoors? Thankfully, everything worked out fine, and I lived in that apartment with the same Spanish roommate for three years before packing up and moving in with the 'novio' and eventually buying a house. 

When people ask me for tips on apartment searching, I am often not a great source of information because – confession time – I have never searched for an apartment on my own in Spain!

I have heard all of the horror stories and read all of the advice, but there are a few things missing, mostly by way of what they don’t tell you about flat hunting (not included on this list: my creepy landlord who had a habit of showing up whenever I was in the shower). 

You will have a noticeable lack of appliances

In building my wedding gift registry, I’m taking a look around at what sorts of appliances we may need. For years, I lived without an oven, a toaster, a dryer and electronic water heaters. My clothes were torn apart my machine wash cycles.  The TV was archaic. I forgot what heat and air conditioning felt like.

But I got by.

Photo of washing machine: Shutterstock  

Currently, we don’t have a microwave, but this is only a problem during Thanksgiving. I haven’t had a clothes dryer since moving here, but thanks to warm weather and plenty of sun, I haven’t needed one (ugh, except for the year it rained three months straight).

Many landlords are older and have had the apartments left to them – a staggering two-thirds of Spaniards live in apartments as their first residence, and living in a  house is quite uncommon. This means that you’re stuck with older, heavy furniture, ancient appliances and occasionally a saint’s bust. 

Nothing a little Ikea trip (or nicely asking your landlord) won’t fix!

There will be scams

The most common way to search for apartments is through online websites like Idealista, Easypiso or Spotahome, which allow you to put in specifications by number of rooms or neighborhood, among other factors.

So, you spend all afternoon browsing, getting a feel for what you can find in the center of town with international roommates who will feed you and who are clean and who maybe have a cat. Then, the perfect place pops up and, surprise! The landlord speaks English!

You get in touch with him via email, and he claims he’s had to run back to his home country for a family emergency, but can mail you the keys if you wire a deposit.

This should be massive red flag. It is never, ever wise to send money to a landlord if you've never seen the place in person. But if you’re not into the whole hitting the pavements and making endless calls, there are bona fide agencies that can set you up with a pre-approved place to live. 

You won’t be best friends with your roommates

Once I’d moved in, I was thrilled to meet Eva, my German roommate in the back bedroom.

She was a fantastic friend who announced that she was moving back to Germany a few weeks later. While I was pining for European roommates to share meals with and practice Spanish with, I was on opposite schedules and rarely saw them.

And because we were three girls of three different ages, three different native tongues and three different cultures, there were often misunderstandings.

Don’t get me wrong – I've stayed in touch with both Eva and Melissa, our Spanish roommate, as well as the other two girls who came later – but the expectation that you’ll all have one another’s back isn't always true. Convivencia brings out the claws, people.

My advice is to lay out house rules right away – can guests spend the night? How do chores work? Is smoking permitted indoors? It’s one thing to live with strangers, and entirely another to combat language and cultural issues! 

You can't (and won’t) always get what you want

It’s good to have parameters to help you find the perfect place for you – I firmly believe that your living situation has the power to make or break your experience in Spain. Think about price range, neighborhoods, connectivity and a few comforts, like an oven or a double bed.

Then remember that a decently-sized Spanish apartment is a glorified walk-in closet, not every place will have a terrace and the chances that you have both air and heat are slim to ni de coña (no bloody chance) in many areas, including Seville.

Or, you can get the mess that is my next door neighbor’s house as far as 'pisos amueblados' (furnished apartments) go.  I’m not saying to give up on those things, but to remember the reality of the Spanish apartment situation.

Remember that most apartments already come furnished, though you’ll have to buy your own towels and sheets. At least that’s good news, right? 

Now you see it, now you don’t

When we bought our house and signed the mortgage in late June, the property stayed on the real estate agent's listings, and on several other websites, for weeks.  If you see a apartment one day and can’t make a decision about it, move on.

These sorts of places come and go quickly, so even in a span of a siesta, you may be caught taking a place you didn't feel so fondly about because the top places were gone. And don't get discouraged when a place you’d like to have is suddenly off the market, either.

Here’s some advice: start early, ask the right questions and don’t give up and settle. Where you hang your hat or flamenco shoes at the end of the day can have a huge impact on your year (or seven) in Spain. 

Cat Gaa is the author of Spain's Sunshine and Siestas blog. She and Hayley Salvo have written an ebook about finding a place to live and getting set up in Spain. For more information, click here

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RENTING

Renting in Spain: Can my landlord put up my rent due to rising inflation?

The war in Ukraine and record high inflation in Spain are resulting in many tenants having their monthly rent raised by the property owners. Is this legal?

Renting in Spain: Can my landlord put up my rent due to rising inflation?

We’re living in uncertain financial times where conflict, a pandemic, rumours of another property bubble and other world events make it difficult to know what’s coming next and what it will mean for our wallets. 

What can be said for certain is that most living costs in Spain are getting more expensive this year.

In February 2022, inflation reached its highest level in 33 years – 7.4 percent – and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has economists suggesting it will hit 10 percent this spring. 

One of the consequences of the rise of the IPC (CPI in English- Consumer Price Index) in Spain is that many landlords are using this general increase in costs to raise the rents of their tenants. 

With the current inflation rates, this can result in an average rise of €40 to €50 a month for renters in Spain. 

Is it legal to do this?

Yes, but only in certain circumstances.

Spain’s Urban Leasing Law allows the monthly rent paid by a tenant to be updated in accordance with the IPC.

However, this can only be done if previously agreed between tenant and landlord. It should also be clearly stated in the contract that the rent is subject to IPC changes.

In such cases, the lessor must wait for the first year of tenancy to have been completed for the IPC rise to be applied, and from then on only once a year and based on the most updated IPC amount. 

So if the tenancy contract was signed in February 2021 for example, the prearranged IPC update in the following years should also be in February.

Landlords can therefore not increase the rent several times a year or every month based on varying IPC rates.

The property owner will also have to give their tenant one month’s notice and apply the rise to the following month. This must be in writing and the landlord must state what the rent increase is and how it corresponds to correct IPC figures.

It’s important to remember that under no circumstances can a landlord increase the rent of a tenant by an amount higher than the IPC. The most updated IPC figure must always be applied.

Other indicators or reasons other than an IPC can be given by a landlord to increase the rent, but the amount they put the rent up by can’t be higher than the IPC under any circumstances.

Tenants should also keep in mind that if the IPC were to drop and they had pre-agreed with the landlord that the contract would be subject to IPC changes, they are within their rights to request a reduction of their rent.

The IPC (Índice de Precios al Consumidor) is published by Spain’s National Statistics Institute on a monthly basis and is based on the country’s latest inflation figures. You can easily check what rise or reduction applies to your property here

Spain’s Rental Negotiating Agency (ANA) has recommended that landlords don’t apply the latest so-called “war CPI” caused by the conflict in Ukraine, arguing that a large rise in rent could result in some tenants ending their rental contracts or struggling to pay.

One of the tools that tenants can use to lessen the blow of sky-high inflation is to tell their landlords that, if at all, they should apply the IPC de Vivienda (Property CPI) rather than the IPC General (General CPI), as the former is generally less volatile than the latter and Spain’s Urban Leasing Law does not specify which should be used to increase or lower rent.

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