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PROPERTY

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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PROPERTY

What the Euribor rise means for property buyers and owners in Spain

The rise in the Euribor interest rate, used to calculate mortgage payments in Spain, is causing big changes in the mortgage rates.

What the Euribor rise means for property buyers and owners in Spain

Looking to buy property in Spain? Already a homeowner here? Well, you may have heard something about rising interest rates recently.

Or perhaps changes to the terms of your mortgage. Or the Euribor – but what is it, and what’s going on?

What is Euribor?

In Spain, Euribor is the interest rate most often used to work out mortgage payments and to calculate both variable and fixed rates.

It is anchored to the interest rate set by the European Central Bank, and, as we are now seeing, quite responsive to global economic events.

It’s the interest rate that banks in the Euro Zone use to lend to each other, so when the base rate goes up, the Euribor does too, which sends mortgage interest rates across the Eurozone rising. 

Rising rates

Most Spanish mortgages with variable rates normally vary based on a variety of factors, but this number has been rising and in May 2022 saw figures of 0.240 percent (Tuesday May 17th), well above the average. 

The rises throughout May are leading many in Spain, and indeed across Europe, to wonder how high their mortgage rates can go, and when the rises will stop.

Banco de España has estimated that the increases could range from anything between €35 a month to an additional €400. Bankinter predicts the Euribor rate will finish the year at a staggering 0.40 percent, but, more encouragingly, Caixabank’s prediction puts it at just 0.13 percent by the end of 2022.

On Euribor.com.es, a website that tracks the index on a daily basis, they suggest that the market consensus predicts the Euribor will finish at around 0.3 percent at the end of the year, but could reach as high 0.8 percent in 2023.

All of them agree, and most other economic indicators suggest, that whatever the figure at the end of the year, it will remain positive, so it seems almost certain that mortgages will continue to rise throughout 2022 at the very least.

This instability, in addition to global inflation and supply chain problems, could mean that mortgage rates will be affected at least until 2023, with some predictors even signposting 2024 as the possible end of a rise in mortgage prices.

With things uncertain in the mortgage industry, and the world economy more broadly, perhaps you’re thinking of ways to try and insulate yourself from the climbing interest rates.

How to protect yourself from the rising rates

One way to weather the storm of interest rate increases is to change your mortgage from a variable to a fixed rate, either by negotiating with the your bank or by changing bank altogether – a process known as subrogation.

According to data from MyInvestor, during March and April the number of subrogations has started to rise.

Subrogation basically means switching the mortgage from one bank to another to change its interest rate. Although it does involve certain charges in order to do so – you pay the valuation of your house, which normally costs a few hundred euros, and a fee charged to the bank you are leaving, which can cost up to 2 percent of the outstanding amount – it could, and probably would, work out cheaper than paying the hiked interests rates over time.

You could also try and take out a new mortgage with another bank and use the borrowed money to settle the loan. This is, of course, a more expensive option as you have to pay the appraisal, the commission for early repayment of the current credit (again, up to 2 percent of the outstanding amount) and the expenses associated with its cancellation of registration, which normally runs to around €1,000.

READ ALSO: Spanish mortgages – Ten things foreigners should know before getting one

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