Please refer to us for help with tenant/landlord problems
Almost all the problems that we see with landlords and tenants are when property owners rent out their property privately. Some even do not have a contract. Also problems with tenant evictions.
Our first advice is to always make sure that any tenant is investigated properly. This includes seeing six months of bank statements; references and that you have copies of their national identity document and also passport.
Unfortunately, in Spain, the law is favourable towards the tenants so it is not a quick process for you to try to evict them. Tenant evictions are difficult.
It is recommended to have a rental contract with the details of the tenant, the landlord, the address of the property, the amount of rent per month, amount of the deposit and duration of the contract. However the contract is not essential in the case of a dispute when payment can be proved.
Spanish Law dictates that a contract may be freely agreed but the minimum term of a contract will be automatically renewed for a minimum of 5 years (or 7 years if the landlord is a company), unless both parties agree. This five year and seven year term only recently changed in a new decree regulating rentals.
If neither tenant or landlord advise their wishes, giving proper notice, there is an automatic renewal now of three years as opposed to one. This is all to protect the tenants. In addition, then tenants need give two months notice to end the contract and landlords now four months. The main changes apply to new lease agreements signed on March 6th 2019 or later. Earlier leases will come under the earlier legislation but it is possible for them to be converted to reflect the new rules.
Many people write contracts for eleven months thinking that they avoid this. However the tenant can gain rights in the property for up to five years after only a very short time. It all depends on whether a Judge will see the property as “temporary” or a permanent residence. Permanent can be demonstrated after a very short period if the tenant has say registered on the padrón, children in school, local doctors.
Annulling the contract before 5 years, needs both parties in agreement. Or the contract said that the landlords may need to move back in for personal reasons. Or the tenant can give one months notice but may be penalised depending on the contract. After the 5 years termination can only be achieved if the tenant gives two months notice of cancellation and the landlord 4 months. Alternatively, that a Judge decides to cancel the contract in an Eviction Hearing. A Court hearing applies even if the tenant has stopped paying rent or caused damage.
Therefore if a tenant stops paying rent or bills (usually a tenant would be responsible for utility bills), if there are still arrears after a month, the landlord should consult a solicitor such as ourselves. The sooner an eviction process is started the better, as although laws were changed in 2013 and it has become more rapid, the process can still take six to nine months, sometimes longer. Now social services in Spain will also assess if the tenant in a vulnerable situation and this may delay the process.
It is a crime for a landlord to enter the property without tenant’s permission, even if they are in arrears with the rent, to change the locks, to cut off utilities to the property or to threaten the tenant. In all of these cases, the police could be called and the landlords face a criminal prosecution.
The best thing to do is to consult a lawyer. We would need details of the debts and of both parties and a copy of the contract and for a legal process to be started in the Courts. Please contact us if you have any problems, either as a landlord or as a tenant and we will help.