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Mould at home in Spain: What are tenants’ rights?

One common problem that tenants have in Spain is mould and damp in their apartments, with some landlords claiming it's not their problem. So what are your rights if the property you rent has a mould issue? Who is responsible for fixing it and can you break your contract because of it?

What can I do about mould in Spain?
What can you if the place you rent in Spain has mould? Photo: Infrogmation / WikiCommons

Unfortunately, as many older Spanish apartment buildings and houses aren’t insulated properly and many don’t have central heating, mould and dampness can be an ongoing problem.

Mould is not only horrible to look at and creates a bad smell around the house, but it can also be harmful to your health, especially for people who suffer from respiratory illnesses such as asthma.

READ ALSO: Why are Spanish homes so cold? 

So, what happens if you discover that the apartment you’re renting has mould? Whose responsibility is it to sort it out – is it you or the landlord? What are your rights and can you break your lease because of it?

In Spain, it can sometimes be tricky to work out who is responsible for repairs and issues with the property and many times it will depend on the type of landlord you have.

READ ALSO – Tenant or landlord: Who pays which costs in Spain?

According to the Urban Lease Law or Ley de Arrendamientos Urbanos (LAU), the landlord is obliged to carry out all the repairs that are necessary to preserve the dwelling and keep it in a habitable condition, except when the deterioration of the apartment is attributed to the tenant.

Therefore, you first have to assess where the mould is coming from and why it’s there, to find out if it’s your responsibility to pay for it to be removed or not.

Mould on the ceiling

If for example, the mould is primarily on your ceiling or in one patch on the ceiling, it’s likely that it’s due to an issue in the apartment above, such as a leaky shower or sink. If this is the case, it will be up to your neighbour to carry out the repairs and pay for any damage done to the ceiling. This will usually be paid for through their housing insurance.

Bathroom mould

If the mould is in the bathroom around the shower and there is just a small amount, it is likely that it is due to poor ventilation. In this case, your landlord could argue that it’s due to the fact that you’re not airing the bathroom out after showering and it’s likely you would have to pay someone to remove it yourself. 

According to the LAU: “Small repairs required by wear and tear due to ordinary use of the dwelling will be borne by the tenant”.  

If it’s not just a case of opening a window, you could suggest to your landlord that they install an extractor fan in the bathroom or something similar to avoid further mould damage. Whether they will do this or not however, will probably be down to the individual landlord.  

If however, the mould is not only in the bathroom or on the ceiling, you may have a bigger problem with dampness, and as long as it cannot be attributed to you, then it will be down to the landlord to pay for the repairs and get it removed.  

What if the mould is definitely not due to anything I did or from a neighbour?

Whatever the case is, you must inform your landlord of the damp problem as soon as possible.

The LAU states “The tenant must inform the landlord, in the shortest possible time, of the need for the repairs”.  

It also states that you must provide the landlord with verification. This could be by taking pictures of the mould for example. However, you will be in a better position if you get a professional out to assess the situation and prove the cause of the mould, so that the landlord can’t say it’s your fault for not opening the windows enough. 

According to the LAU if at any time, and after notifying the landlord, you carry out repairs that are urgent to avoid imminent damage or serious inconvenience, you can immediately demand the landlord pays you back.  

Can I ask for a rent reduction while the works or mould removal is taking place?

This will depend on the severity of the problem and how long it takes to fix.

According to the LAU “When the execution of work cannot reasonably be deferred until the conclusion of the lease, the tenant will be obliged to bear it, even if it is very annoying or is deprived of a part of the house. If the work lasts more than twenty days, the rent will have to be reduced in proportion to the part of the dwelling that the tenant is deprived of”.

In other words, if the repairs take more than 20 days, then you are able to get a reduction. 

Can I break my lease?

Under normal circumstances, you may withdraw from your lease only after six months, provided that he notifies the landlord at least thirty days in advance. However, you may be able to break your lease earlier, if your landlord ignores the mould problem and won’t do anything about it. 

What if my landlord wont do anything about the mould?

If after having notified your landlord of the problem and a reasonable period of time has elapsed and they still won’t do anything about it, you have the right to end your contract because the landlord has failed to comply with their obligations. In addition, you may also be able to request compensation for the damages caused according to article 1124 of the civil code.  

Unfortunately several cases due to mould in Spain, end up in the courts and it will be up to a judge to decide who must pay for the repairs and if you are owed any compenstation. 

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For members


Home insurance in Spain: How does it work and what does it cover?

Home insurance in Spain has policies which may differ from what you're used to in your home country. Here's why Spanish home insurance may surprise you in terms of what it covers, what it costs, key info and whether it's worth getting.

Home insurance in Spain: How does it work and what does it cover?

If you’re moving to Spain and purchasing a property or even renting, one of the first and most important factors to consider is purchasing home insurance.

According to the latest data available, approximately 23 percent of households in Spain are uninsured. That percentage corresponds to around 6 million homes.

But with low prices and the wide range of situations Spanish home insurance covers, there’s little reason not to get it.

Contracting home insurance is only essential in Spain when you acquire a mortgage. The current Mortgage Law requires you to take out this insurance if you are going to buy a house with a loan and is an essential requirement for banks to grant you the money.

If you’re renting in Spain, you’re not obliged to contract home insurance, but it still may be a good idea.

Your landlord may have buildings insurance, but you may still want to take out some type of insurance to protect your own belongings or the contents of the property. 

In the UK, home contents insurance covers your personal possessions against theft, fire or other damage, while buildings insurance covers the structure of your property if the tiles on your roof are broken in a storm for example, the outside is damaged by fire or a tree falls on part of your property.

In Spain, home insurance works slightly differently. Like in the UK and other countries there are different types of insurance. 

READ ALSO: Is getting rental default insurance worth it for landlords in Spain?

What types of home insurance are there in Spain?

The most basic is seguros de daños or damage insurance which is similar to buildings insurance in the UK. This will only protect the structure of your property. This would be damage caused by major events such as fires, explosions, flooding, acts of vandalism or subsidence and you should still check the smallprint to be sure of the conditions. With flooding for example, most insurers cover flooding damage caused by rainfall greater than 40 litres per square metre per hour.

The second tier is seguros multiriesgo or multi-risk insurance. This covers both your building and its contents and is one of the most comprehensive types of home insurance in Spain.

This type of insurance not only covers big incidents like fire or theft, but it also covers a whole range of minor issues, which is very different from the type of contents insurance in the UK.

Home insurance is only essential in Spain when you acquire a mortgage. Photo: Louis Hansel / Unsplash

It can cover for everything from a blocked sink to a burst pipe in the wall or a broken radiator. Sometimes it may even cover the breakdown of your white goods such as washing machine and fridge, depending on how old they are and what your specific policy says.

It’s also especially useful for flat owners as it covers against damage to your neighbours’ property if something inside your apartment is at fault.

For example, if your shower or toilet breaks and starts leaking into the flat downstairs, your insurance should cover the damage to your neighbour’s ceiling so that you won’t have to fork out a fortune for fixing someone else’s property.

Many major cities in Spain have historic quarters and some of its nicest-looking apartment buildings are some of the oldest too, so it’s particularly useful if your property is old and prone to needing fixing regularly. 

The third and highest type of home insurance coverage in Spain is all-risk home insurance, which has extended coverage that includes robbery on the street, damage to extra storage rooms outside the main property or coverage for cosmetic damage.

What you need to know

Keep in mind that when you do claim or after you have claimed a couple of times, it’s normal that the insurance company won’t want you to be their client anymore and will terminate your contract.

This shouldn’t be a problem, however, you will simply contract a new home insurance policy with a different company. It helps to go with a broker so that they can present you with different options to choose from, so you know what’s the best.

Be aware that every insurance company will have a slightly different policy so just because a certain item may have been covered on your old policy, it doesn’t mean that will be on the new one or be covered to the same amount of money.

What are some of the most popular home insurance companies in Spain?

There are many different companies that offer multi-risk insurance policies in Spain, both international and national companies. Some of the most popular are:

  • AXA Home Insurance
  • Generali
  • Zurich
  • Mapfre
  • Caser
  • El Corte Inglés 

How much does home insurance cost in Spain?

As the multi-risk policies cover so many different aspects, you would imagine that they’re very expensive. Surprisingly though, these are quite affordable at under €200 per year according to the Organisation of Consumers and Users (OCU).

The price isn’t too different from what you’d pay in the UK. Money Supermarket says that a combined home and contents insurance policy in the UK costs around £140 per year, but usually it will cover a lot less.