7 Things you need to know when renting a house in Spain

Article by Marc Vervoort

When you’re moving to Spain, you’ll probably be looking for a place to rent. As an expat renting gives you the flexibility and the time to discover if the city where you’ll stay is a good fit for you. To live happily ever after in your rental dream pad, here are a few things you need to know.

To use or not to use a real estate agent?

An agent can be handy when you’re not in Spain and don’t speak the language. However, be careful. In Spain, anybody can call themselves a real estate agent. You don’t need to follow a course or have a certificate. Now that the Spanish housing market is recovering, there are quite a few fortune seekers who won’t put your interests first.

So, if you choose to use an agent, make sure to select one who comes highly recommended. Check the commission they charge. It should always be on a no cure-no pay basis.

Looking online for a rental property in Spain

Spain has various housing websites where both private owners and agents offer rental properties. If a home is advertised via an agent, there is a big chance they’ll charge you a commission. A house can be listed several times by various agents and the owner at the same site. Always look for the owner’s ad to save a commission. The most popular housing sites in Spain are:


Check your country’s real estate portals as well. Sometimes they offer international options.

Don’t trust the photos

Pictures for most properties are quite bad in Spain. It makes it difficult to get a good impression. Sometimes the rental property looks a lot better in real life and other times worse. Go and check the home out if the location and price seem like a fit. If you’re not in Spain, ask the agent or a friend to go and show the property to you via video chat.

Furnished rental properties: check what’s included

Renting a furnished apartment will make your life easier and save you some trips to the IKEA. However, when it says an apartment is furnished, get in writing which items are precisely included. Make photos at the start of the rental period of any damages and see if all appliances work.

Duration of your rental contract in Spain

A rental agreement in Spain, the Contrato de Arrendamiento, usually is for 12 months. If you terminate the lease before the first 6 months, you might have to pay for the remaining months. After 6 months, there is a 30 day-notice period for you to cancel the rent.

Landlords in Spain are legally compelled to renew your lease annually for 3 years automatically. After 3 years, the landlord has the right to terminate the contract. The landlord can only end the rental agreement beforehand if he or she will live in the home or for a first-degree relative.

To avoid these 3 years terms, some landlords will have you sign a temporary 11-month contract. Yet, in Spain, according to the Spanish Supreme Court, the short-term nature of the rental agreement is not decided by the period but is based on the reason why you’re renting a property.

If you live in the rental property since you work in the area, the contract will be deemed residential. Therefore the 3-year rule will apply, even if the agreed rental period is less than 12 months.


For the deposit, fianza in Spanish, there is a legal maximum of 2 month’s rent. The deposit should be transferred into an escrow account of the region’s Administration. The reality, though, is that often the deposit is given directly to the landlord. Be careful when doing this, since there are landlords who are not very willing to return the deposit at the end of the rental period. Legally it should be returned within a month after handing over the keys.

Who pays what?

As a tenant, you pay the rent, and utilities like gas, water, electricity, internet and so on. Put these in your name. Apart from the garbage tax, the landlord pays the other taxes and the community fee. Nevertheless, there is the option that will you pay these. This should be stipulated in your rental agreement.

Get a lawyer when you rent in Spain

As an expat who doesn’t know the ins and outs of the Spanish housing market and laws, get a lawyer to review your rental agreement before you sign.

Time to find a digital job in Spain

Of course, to pay the rent, you gotta work. And what better than to work in an English speaking digital job.

Check Spain’s best digital jobs here.