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Do I have to pay community fees if I rent in Spain?

The Local Spain
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Do I have to pay community fees if I rent in Spain?
Any agreement with regards to paying community fees must be formally made in writing in the contract. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

In Spain, understanding whether it's the landlord or the tenant who is liable for the 'gastos de comunidad' (community fees) depends on several factors and the reality is often quite different to the letter of the law.

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If you own property in Spain, particularly in an apartment complex, you’ll likely have heard of la comunidad (the community).

In Spain, la comunidad is essentially a homeowner’s association within a particular building.

READ ALSO: 'La comunidad': What property owners in Spain need to know about homeowners’ associations

The vast majority of properties in Spain are sold freehold meaning you that the owners own them outright.

However, if you have an apartment in a building (something very common in Spain) then you only hold a percentage of the freehold which is decided on a percentage basis.

All of the building fees every month are estimated and shared among the homeowners.

Let’s say the costs for a building, electricity, lift maintenance, insurance, cleaning costs, and so on, come to €900 per month and there are 30 flats in the building. 

The community will charge around €1,200 for each month (they charge a slight surplus) and divide that between the flats in the building and make sure to run a small surplus. So if we assume every flat is the same size and has the same percentage of the whole building then each door will pay €40 per month. Usually this money will be directly debited from your bank account every three months meaning a quarterly payment of €120.

But one question that many people in Spain wonder about is who has to pay the community fees in the case of rental agreements: the landlord or the tenant?



What does Spanish law say?

In order to understand this question, one that has grown in importance for many people, particularly renters, during the ongoing cost of living crisis, we must understand the law.

There are two relevant laws to consider when it comes to paying community fees in Spain, the Urban Leasing Law (LAU) and the Horizontal Property Law (LPH).

READ ALSO:  What should I do if my tenant in Spain stops paying the rent?

So, what does the law say about community fees?

According Article 20 of Spain’s Urban Leasing Law (LAU): “the general expenses for the adequate maintenance of the property, its services, taxes, charges and responsibilities that are not susceptible to individualisation which are charged to the lessor will be paid by the lessee" .

Spanish legalese aside, this means that in principle the tenant is responsible for community fees.

However, this may vary depending on the specifics of the rental contract. Often, the reality is very different to the letter of the law.



The contract

Although the law gives us a general guideline, in reality this is often not the case.

In fact, often it is not the tenant who assumes these community costs and, crucially, it all depends on the specifics of your rental contract. It can be (and often is) established that the owner of the apartment pays the community fees.

In most short-term rental contracts in Spain, this is almost always the case.

That’s why in Spain as elsewhere it is essential to read the fine print of any rental contract before signing it.

This is particularly true if you aren’t a native speaker, as the complicated legalese in Spanish contracts is notoriously tricky even for advanced speakers.


Any agreement with regards to paying community fees must be formally made in writing in the contract. In order for it to be valid, an express clause must be included in the contract stating that the tenant will be responsible for the community charges.

However, it is also necessary to determine what the annual amount of these expenses will roughly be. In other words, it is not enough to simply state that "the community fees are to paid by the tenant" and which fees are to be paid and by who must be specified in the contract.

However, if the agreement is not signed by both parties, then it is the owner who ultimately ends up paying the community fees.

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


Special cases

However, there are some situations that may raise some doubts and go beyond the conditions outlined in the rental contract, such as the case of building works or renovations in the building.

According to Spain’s Horizontal Property Law, these sorts of expenses are the responsibility of the owner of the property, and cannot be transferred to the tenant unless it has been explicitly agreed in the contract, something no tenant in their right mind would agree to.


So, do I have to pay community fees if I rent in Spain?

As we have seen, in short: it depends. Though legally speaking landlords do have a claim that basic community fees can technically be passed on to the tenant, in most cases the conditions of the rental contract mean the landlord pays them.

In the case of extraordinary building works or renovations on the property (or the building at large) the landlord is legally obliged to pay these fees and cannot pass them onto the tenant.

Be sure to always check the small print of your contract, and if in doubt, consult a legal or property expert that speaks Spanish.



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