For members


Is subletting legal in Spain?

Subletting is a common practice in Spain, particularly in times of economic strain, but is it legal? Whether you’re a tenant looking to sublease or you’re looking for a room in a flatshare, here’s what you need to know.

Is subletting legal in Spain?
Is subletting legal in Spain? Photo: Andrew Neel / Unsplash

Subletting is the practice whereby someone rents a property and then rents all or part of it out to someone else. This is very popular in Spain, particularly in flatshares in big cities like Madrid and Barcelona.

But is it legal?

Whether you’re a tenant looking to help makes ends meet by renting out one of your rooms or you want to rent out a room from someone else, there are a few factors you need to consider beforehand.

The short answer is that subletting is not legal in Spain.

According to Article 8 of the Urban Leasing Law (LAU), only partial subletting (the subletting of rooms) is allowed, but only when you have express written permission from the landlord.

Therefore, if it’s not written in your contract that subletting is allowed, you must assume it’s illegal. In this case, if you still want to sublet a room, you must contact your landlord first to get permission.

Be aware that if your landlord agrees to the sublet and you do get written permission, they have the right to increase the rental price by 10 percent.

READ ALSO: How much can my landlord legally increase my rent by in Spain?

The law also states that the price of the sublease can never be higher than the price of the entire lease. This means that if you have permission from the landlord to rent out a room, you can only use it to help you pay the rent, not to make a profit.  

Even if you’re not making a profit, you must still legally declare the amount you are earning to the tax authorities. Failing to do this could mean having to pay hefty fines.  

The sublease of an entire home is not allowed in Spain according to the LAU and will not be considered legal.

I want to rent a room, what do I need to look out for? 

If you’re looking to rent out a room in a property and are worried about the legalities of subletting, there are a few things you may want to check out before signing the contract.  If the person you’re renting from is not the property owner, you will need to make sure that they have written consent from the landlord in order to rent you the room.  

If they do have permission, you’ll want to check out the original contract they have with the landlord to see the duration of the lease. This is because when the lease of the entire property is up, this will also terminate any subleasing contracts and you will no longer be able to continue living in the property unless you sign a new contract with the landlord yourself.

READ ALSO: Renting in Spain: Why it’s become very hard to find a flat to share 

What if you’re a landlord worried about a tenant subletting your property?

As a landlord, there are reasons to be concerned about illegal subletting. The main one is that you don’t know who or how many people will actually be living in your property and you don’t have any paperwork that proves it either. This could affect your housing insurance or contents insurance.

Another concern is the wear and tear of the property. If the rooms in your apartment are being rented out continually to different people for several months at a time, this is going to wear out the furniture and the paintwork a lot quicker.

If you discover that your tenant has been subletting your property without your prior written consent, then you legally have the right to terminate their contract and ask them to leave the property. 

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For members


How to find temporary accommodation in Spain when you first arrive

One of the most common questions people moving to Spain ask is where they can rent temporary accommodation while looking for somewhere more permanent. This can be particularly tricky, but we've found some of the best places to look.

How to find temporary accommodation in Spain when you first arrive

So you’ve sorted out your visas, you’ve done all your packing and have either sold or moved out of your home, but when you arrive in Spain you’re not exactly sure where you’re going to stay.  

Of course, it’s not the best idea to sign a contract ahead of time for a more permanent place before you’ve actually seen it in person. Photos don’t always accurately represent what the house or apartment looks like in reality and you won’t really be able to get a feel for the neighbourhood without being there. 

On top of this, rental scams are rife in some places in Spain, particularly in the bigger more popular cities like Barcelona. Often people will place an ad (which usually looks too good to be true) and get you to wire over a deposit to secure it in advance, but here’s the catch – the place doesn’t usually exist.

This is why it’s important to never hand over money to secure a place to live in Spain before you’ve actually seen it in person and you can get the keys as soon as you sign the contract.

But, finding a place to live in a new country can be difficult and it can take time, so while you look for somewhere, you’re going to need temporary accommodation for a couple of months. This can be tricky too because often temporary accommodation is geared towards tourists and you’ll be paying tourist prices too.

While Idealista and Fotocasa are two of the most popular sites to look for accommodation in Spain, when you only want somewhere for a couple of months, there’s no point looking there, as most places will have yearly contracts.

Keep in mind with short-term rentals for a couple of months, you’re going to be paying higher than the average monthly rent, however, for this, the apartments are usually fully furnished, including kitchen utensils, wi-fi already connected and offer you the flexibility of shorter contracts.

Short-term rental agencies

Specialised short-term rental agencies are the best way to go, which will allow you to sign contacts for less than the typical one year. These types of agencies are usually found in Spain’s big cities that are popular with foreigners, such as Madrid and Barcelona.

Trying searching in Spanish too by typing alquiler de temporada or alquiler temporal plus the name of the city or town you’re looking in. This way you may be able to find places that offer better value. 


In Barcelona, check out aTemporal an agency that started up precisely to fix the problem of trying to find accommodation in-between tourist accommodation and long-term rentals. They rent out apartments for anywhere from 32 days to 11 months.

ShBarcelona is another agency that specialises in these types of rentals and have properties all over the city.

READ ALSO – Moving to Barcelona: A guide to the best neighbourhoods to live in


In Madrid, try DFLAT, which was created by two professionals from the Instituto de Empresa University after discovering the difficulties professionals and foreigners found when looking for an apartment in Madrid. Sh also has a good branch in Madrid.  


In Valencia, Dasha Living Space has both short and long-term fully furnished flats available and  Valenvi Flats also offers rentals for between three and six months.

READ ALSO – Moving to Valencia: A guide to the best neighbourhoods to live in


While the nightly rate of Airbnb apartments is typically too expensive to rent for a couple of months, you may be able to find some deals. Often when you input dates for a month into Airbnb, you’ll find that several places have a monthly discount offered. Also, some owners will do a deal for a couple of months. If it’s winter for example and they know they’re not going to get many tourists anyway, they may be willing to negotiate.


Like Airbnb, the properties on Vrbo are rented out directly by the owners. While the site is also mainly focused on tourists, some owners may negotiate outside of the tourist season.


If you’re willing to try something a little bit different, then housesitting could be the way to go. This is where you live in somebody’s house for free, in exchange for looking after their pets and their property.

Often people only need someone for a few days, but sometimes you’ll see house sits available for a month or longer. This is perhaps a better option for those who are flexible on where they might want to live and are trying out a few different places. It’s also better for those wanting to live in smaller towns or villages rather than the bigger cities, as there are fewer postings for these popular locations. Trusted Housesitters and Mind My House are good options.