Q&A: What can I do if I’m struggling to pay my rent in Spain?

Q&A: What can I do if I'm struggling to pay my rent in Spain?
Photos: AFP
Spain's government has just extended the moratorium on rent payments until May. Find out if you qualify or if there are other options available to get help paying your rent.

What’s the latest?

Spain’s Council of Ministers on Tuesday approved the extension until May 31 of the state aid to tenants who are struggling to pay their rent due to their earnings taking a hit as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

In general terms, both the requirements and the process for these grants are the same as those in force until now, including the ban on evicting vulnerable families until the end of Spain’s state of alarm.

Am I entitled to help?

Any person or family that falls into the above group must demonstrate that their income has been reduced by the coronavirus crisis.

Earnings per family unit must not have exceeded €2,689 the month prior to the application, and the rent they pay, together with other bills, must account for at least 35 percent of their income.

Families in Spain will not be entitled to this benefit if they are homeowners or have a family home which they can live in.

People who have reduced their working hours to care for their children or dependents can also apply.

What documents will I need to show?

Any official document that can prove that you’ve become unemployed, that you’re affected by an ERTE (temporary unemployment) or proof of how your earnings have taken a hit.

In general, any “circumstance linked to work or a business activity that can be proven through documentation is accepted.”

How much are the rent aid packages?

According to the website of Spain’s Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Affairs, the amounts of aid will vary depending on the age and earnings of the tenants.

In general terms it’s up to 40 percent of the monthly rent, up to 50 percent for over-65s and 30 percent in some regions for rents between €601 and €900.

How do I apply?

Each region of Spain handles its application separately but a good place to start is here, a list of the regional departments of Spain’s Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Affairs.

You have to apply before May 9 2021 for your application to be accepted.

Can I stop paying my rent all together?

No, but if the owner of the home is a property holder with ten properties to his or her name, the tenant can request a deferral of the monthly rent payment.

The landlord has a week to choose whether to grant the tenant 50 percent off the rent for a maximum of four months or whether to allow him to delay payment.

This involves allowing the tenant to not pay at the moment and prorate the months not paid for the next three years (or longer).

But my landlord isn’t a company or a major property owner. What then?

In this case there isn’t the possibility of a rent reduction or postponement in payment, unless landlord and tenant reach their own agreement.

But Spain’s Official Credit Institute does offer loans at 0 percent interest for those who can’t pay the rent.

These credits have to be paid back within a period of six years, extendable to ten if the tenant still can’t afford the rent.

I already had problems paying my rent before the pandemic. Can they kick me out?

No, at least not until May 9 2021, which is when Spain’s current state of alarm ends.

Until then there’s an anti-eviction decree in place for families affected by the coronavirus crisis and those who were already vulnerable previously.

However, if they cannot prove that their financial struggles are a direct result of the Covid-19 crisis, the applicant won’t have the right to any rental assistance.

My lease is running out, what should I do?

The extension approved on Tuesday also protects tenants in this situation, as those whose rental contracts expire in the next four months can ask their landlords for a six-month extension to their contracts, which they will be legally obliged to offer.

This has to be done before May 9 2021 for it to be valid. There’s also the option of landlord and tenant agreeing to different terms.

I’ve heard Madrid is offering rent aid to middle-class families?

Indeed, Madrid’s regional government has €30million in aid available for families whose gross annual earnings are between €32,200 and €88,200 and have been registered at the town hall for at least five years.

It’s a move aimed at helping families that earn too much to qualify for social housing but are still having to make ends meet in terms of rent in the capital.

The scheme is unrelated to the coronavirus crisis and families will always have to pay a minimum of €450 of their rent out of their own pocket, but this “Bono Vivienda” can cover up to €900 in rent costs per family. 

How about if I have a mortgage I’m struggling to pay?

Spain’s government is expected to soon approve another postponement to mortgage payments for struggling families, just as it did together with the rent moratorium back in September.

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