Healthplan Spain


Securing Deposit Returns From Landlords In Spain: Legal Guidelines Expat Tips

Encountering challenges in retrieving your rental deposit while renting in Spain is a widespread issue. Thus, comprehending the legal stipulations surrounding this matter and knowing your options when your landlord refuses to comply is crucial. Regularly, foreign residents vent their frustrations online regarding their landlords' reluctance to return their security deposits, particularly in major urban centres like Barcelona.

Instances may arise where landlords endeavour to evade refunding the deposit by sidestepping communication or evading correspondence. Conversely, they might necessitate retaining the deposit for repairs attributed to damages.

So, what do the legal provisions state regarding deposits?

As per Article 36.4 of the Urban Leasing Law (LAU), "the remaining sum of the cash deposit meant to be reimbursed to the lessee after the lease concludes will accrue legal interest, one month after the tenant returns the keys, provided that restitution hasn't been executed."

This implies that once the tenancy agreement concludes, property owners possess a 30-day window to assess the condition of the property. If everything proves satisfactory, the deposit sum should be reimbursed. Delays in this reimbursement could result in the tenant rightfully imposing late payment charges.

Deposits typically equate to a month's rental fee. However, in specific situations, the law sanctions the inclusion of an "additional guarantee" of two more months.

Landlords cannot merely withhold the deposit; they must remit it to a designated professional entity for safekeeping, contingent on the region. For instance, in Madrid, this role is fulfilled by the IVIMA (Madrid Housing Institute), while in Barcelona, it's managed by INCASOL. Some regions such as Navarre, La Rioja, Asturias, and Cantabria lack such entities. Landlords neglecting to lodge deposits with these organisations risk incurring fines.

What is the procedure for securing the return of my deposit?

Upon receiving the deposit refund, you must also receive a rental deposit return form. This document signifies the lease contract's termination and formalises the deposit's return. It should comprise of…

  • Details concerning the lease contract's initiation date.
  • Information about both the tenant and the landlord.
  • Confirmation of the landlord being in receipt of the keys.
  • Deposit refund. It's pivotal for the document to specify whether the deposit amount is fully or partially refunded, contingent on the presence of damages.

Under what legal circumstances can my landlord decline to reimburse my deposit?

Your landlord holds no legal obligation to reimburse your deposit under these circumstances:

  • Property or furniture destruction unrelated to ordinary wear and tear.
  • Failure to fulfil rent payment obligations.
  • Unsettled debts, including utility bill arrears.
  • Tenant-initiated alterations without permission.
  • Tenant vacating premises prematurely.

How should I proceed to reclaim my deposit?

If none of the aforementioned situations apply, in most instances, you can approach your landlord via phone or email to request your deposit's return. Should they remain unresponsive, your initial response should be to contact the property agency that facilitated the rental.

Should the landlord persist in neglecting your request, you have the option to dispatch a burofax. This secure and legally recognised communication can be sent from your nearest post office or Correos. It requires the landlord's signature upon receipt. Correos assures delivery within one day across domestic destinations.

If over a month has transpired since you surrendered the keys, you retain the right to impose interest on the landlord due to the delay, alluding to the aforementioned legal stipulation.

How to proceed if disputes arise regarding damages?

At times, landlords might contend that retaining your deposit is warranted to address incurred damages. In situations where disputes arise concerning these damages, it's imperative to solicit a comprehensive list from your landlord detailing each issue, along with official repair cost estimates. This ensures they are not fabricating charges.

Swiftly upon occupying a newly leased property, documenting any damages or wear and tear through photographs is vital. Also, compile a list of malfunctioning items not visibly broken and inform the landlord in writing immediately.

Your real estate agent might prove helpful, as they could possess records detailing the property's condition at the commencement of the lease.

Remember, landlords are exclusively authorised to withhold deposits for genuine damages; they cannot retain funds for general wear and tear, such as repainting interiors due to dirt or minor marks. Purposeful damage, like chipped paint or unauthorised murals, grants landlords the right to withhold a portion of the deposit for repainting.

What if my landlord continues to withhold the deposit?

Should you have exhausted all avenues—such as burofax, communication with your real estate agent, and you have provided evidence that you haven’t caused any damage—consider enlisting legal representation to initiate legal action against the landlord.

Is a fresh deposit necessary upon lease extension?

Within the initial five years of the lease, or seven years if the landlord is a legal entity, deposit sums remain unaltered. However, with each lease extension, the landlord retains the prerogative to request a deposit increase.

Disclaimer: The information provided within this article is intended solely for educational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. It is essential to consult with qualified professionals for personalised guidance on specific legal matters.