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What’s the law on getting my deposit back from my landlord in Spain?

The Local Spain
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What’s the law on getting my deposit back from my landlord in Spain?
What is the law on getting my deposit back from my landlord in Spain? Kari Shea / Unsplash

Experiencing difficulties when trying to get your rental deposit back in Spain is a common problem, so what does the law say about it and what can you do when your landlord refuses?

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Almost every day on certain social media groups there are foreigners complaining that their landlords won’t give them back their security deposits. It's a common problem, especially in bigger cities such as Barcelona.

It may be a case of landlords trying to avoid paying you back the deposit and refusing to answer your calls or e-mails, or it may be the case they need to keep it to pay for repairs due to damages. 

What does the law say regarding deposits?

According to article 36.4 of the Urban Leasing Law (LAU), "the balance of the cash deposit that must be returned to the lessee at the end of the lease, will accrue the legal interest, after one month from the delivery of the keys by the same without such restitution having been made effective". 

This means that once the rental contract is finished, the owner has a period of 30 days to examine the state of the house and, if everything is ok, return the amount of the deposit. If the refund of the deposit is delayed, then the tenant is within their rights to charge late fees. 

READ ALSO: Where in Spain are rent prices rising the most? 


Typically, deposits will be equal to one month’s rent, however, in certain circumstances, the law does allow another two months to be added as an "additional guarantee".  

Legally, landlords are not simply able to keep the deposit, they must give it to a particular professional body for safekeeping, according to whichever region you’re in. For example, in Madrid, it's the IVIMA (Madrid Housing Institute) and in Barcelona, it's the INCASOL. The only regions that don’t have this type of body are Navarre, La Rioja, Asturias and Cantabria.  

If landlords fail to lodge your deposit with one of these companies, they will risk having to pay a fine. 

READ ALSO: How to rent a property in Spain without a job contract 

What is the process for getting my deposit back?  

When you receive your deposit back, you must also receive a rental deposit return form. This is a document that signals the termination of the lease contract and formalises the return of the rental deposit. It must include:

  • Information on the rental contract date when the rental contract was signed.
  • information on both the tenant and the landlord.
  • The landlord must sign to say they have received the keys.
  • Refund of the deposit. It is also important that the document states whether the amount of the deposit is returned in full or partially, in the event that damages have occurred.  

What are the legal reasons my landlord can refuse to give me my deposit back? 

Your landlord is not legally obliged to return your deposit under any of the following circumstances:

  • Destruction of the property or furniture not derived from normal wear and tear.
  • Failure to pay the rent.
  • Outstanding debts, such as debts on utility bills.
  • If the tenant has carried out works without permission.
  • If the tenant has left the house before the end of their contract. 

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How should I request my deposit back?

If none of the above cases have occurred, in most cases, you can simply get in contact with your landlord, either by phone or e-mail and ask them for your deposit back. If they don’t respond to you, one of the first steps to take is to get in contact with the agency you rented the property from to help.

If your landlord still ignores you, you can send a burofax, which you can do from your nearest post office or Correos. It’s a secure and legal way to send your request, which means that your landlord will have to sign when they have received it. Correos also guarantees that it will arrive within one day to all national destinations.  

If more than a month has gone by since you returned the keys, you have the right to charge the owner interest for the delay and should inform them of this, stating the above law.  


What if there are disagreements about the damages caused?

In some cases, landlords may believe that they’re in their right to keep your deposit to pay for any damages that have occurred. If you are in disagreement about these damages, it’s important that you get a complete list from your landlord about each problem and the official quotes to repair them, so you can make sure they’re not making them up.  

It's also very important that as soon as you arrive at a newly rented property, you take photos so you can prove exactly what damages or wear and tear existed before you moved in. You should also make a list of anything that doesn’t work that doesn’t appear to be broken upon visual inspection and inform your landlord in writing, straight away.

You can also ask your estate agent for help, as they may also have records of the state of the property when they rented it to you.

Remember, landlords can only keep deposits for actual damages, they cannot keep them due to general wear and tear such as the interior of the property needing repainting because of dirt or a few scuff marks. If you have deliberately chipped paint off the walls or painted your own murals for example, your landlord is within their right to keep part of your deposit back for repainting.


What if my landlord still won’t return my deposit?

If you have tried all avenues such as sending a burofax, talking with your estate agent and providing proof that you haven’t caused damages, then you can contact a lawyer to start legal proceedings against your landlord.

Is it necessary to pay another deposit again if your contract is extended?

During the first five years of the contract, or during the first seven years if the landlord is a legal entity, the deposit will not be subject to updating.

But, each time the rent is extended, the landlord may demand that the deposit be increased.


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