Advice on renting
Do you want to know your rights and obligations as a tenant? Or as a property owner? You will find all the information about housing regulations here.
Rights and obligations for rented accommodation
Housing discipline is a relatively new concept that appeared with the 2007 Right to Housing Act. This Act provides a clear framework concerning the rights and obligations of the different parties that interact in the property market.
Within this framework, the concept of slum and difficult-to-access housing, for example, can be easily determined, and associated with certain fines to be paid. The framework, which did not exist 10 years ago, allows citizens to claim their rights while also establishing rights and obligations for the administration
- Act 4/2013 concerning flexibility measures and fostering the rented-housing market (CAT) (PDF 215.74 KB)
- Act 29/1994 concerning urban rentals (CAT) (PDF 207.81 KB)
- Royal Decree Law 7/2019 of March 1, on Urgent Measures in Housing and Rentals (ESP) (PDF 260.92 KB)
- Law 11/2020, of September 18, on urgent measures regarding the containment of income in the lease contracts (ESP) (PDF 89.74 KB)
Do you want to know about the rights and obligations associated with your rental contract?
You will find the most relevant advice concerning your rental contract here, with information about the rights and obligations of each and every party involved.
The state of the flat must be taken into consideration
Before renting a flat, it is a good idea to make a thorough inspection, to make sure that the property meets your needs.
You should consider a series of factors that directly affect the quality of people's lives. Natural light, low levels of noise pollution, thermal protection and the cleanliness of the environment are key factors for the comfort of a home.
In the case of furnished flats, you should check that the washing machine, fridge, cooker and water heater are in working order. It is important to check the water, gas and electricity installations and, in older buildings, make sure the bathroom has adequate water pressure. It is also a good idea to ask for a gas-inspection certificate.
You should consider the dwelling's surroundings
A property's surroundings and neighbourhood services and facilities can also be key factors when making your choice. Some of the variables that influence the decision are proximity to public transport, place of work, shops and markets, and the existence of schools, leisure areas, green areas, etc.
In addition to all of that, you should check if there are any projects planned or under development that may change the area, such as an urban-development project. If this is the case, the City Council can provide information on the projects to help you assess if they are beneficial or disadvantageous.
Certificate of Occupancy
It is important to check that your chosen flat has the corresponding Certificate of Occupancy. This document guarantees that the dwelling is fit to live in, and it is essential for obtaining water, gas and electricity services.
You need this document to let accommodation. It must be certified by a qualified technician, architect or quantity surveyor, and it is issued by the Generalitat of Catalonia.
Before signing a rental contract, you should check that the person letting the flat is really the owner, who is able to rent the flat, and that the person is who they claim to be. In cases where the person letting the flat is acting on behalf of the owner, make sure that they have sufficient power of attorney to do so.
The contract must be formalised in writing and each and every clause it contains must be analysed. If in doubt about something, ask what it means. If something remains unclear, you should not sign. To sum up, it is of prime importance to analyse all the contract's conditions before signing it, because once you have signed, it is too late.
If several people want to rent the flat, it is highly recommendable that they all sign the contract, because they will then be listed as occupants.
Rental agreements signed after 1 January 1995 are regulated by the Urban Rental Act (LAU, Act 29/1994) (CAT). The modifications introduced by Act 4/2013, concerning flexibilisation measures and fostering the rental market (ESP) should also be taken into consideration, Royal Decree Law 7/2019 on urgent measures in matters of housing and rent and Law 11/2020 for the Regulation of Rental Prices of the Generalitat of Catalonia.
Since Act 4/2013 came into force, rental agreements have been regulated, firstly, by the wishes of the parties involved, Chapter 2, and, additionally, by the Civil Code.
Duration and rent
Regarding the duration, if the contract has been signed between January 1, 1995 and March 5, 2019, the LAU establishes that the duration of the contract is free. But if the contract is less than three years, the owner is obliged to extend it annually up to three years. This period is known as a forced extension. If the contract has been signed as of March 6, 2019, the contract is governed by Royal Decree Law 7/2019 on urgent measures in matters of housing and rent, extending this forced extension. In this case, the contract must be renewed annually until it reaches five years, if the owner is a natural person, and up to 7 years, if the owner is a legal person.
As regards the price, the date of the contract must also be taken into account. Until September 22, 2020 the rental price was free. As of this date, Law 11/2020 for the Regulation of Rental Prices of the Generalitat of Catalonia enters into force and the rental price must meet a series of requirements. In areas with a tense housing market, including Barcelona, the price is subject to the Reference Index, which will be the maximum price that can be asked. If the house has been rented for the last five years, the price of the previous contract and the reference index should be reviewed and the lowest one of these two should be chosen. IF the home has not been rented in the last five years, the rent may not exceed the benchmark indices. If the previous tenant was a relative and the price was very low, you can go up to the benchmark.
An increase of up to 5% of the price can be agreed if at least three requirements are met among a series of improvements that the law includes. Among these assumptions is, for example, that the house is furnished, that it has a cooling or heating system, parking or communal areas, among others.
Once you have chosen your dwelling (either purchased or rental), you have to get connected to the basic services of electricity, gas, water and telephone. Contracting these services is the responsibility of the tenant, in the case of rented accommodation, or the owner in the case of purchased properties.
Electricity, gas, and telephone services can be contracted with any company, given that the market has been deregulated.
An insurance contract must always be formalised in writing. The insurance company is obliged to give the insured person a policy, a document in which the insurance company must identify itself, the insurance broker and exactly what is being insured. The types of risk covered, the objects that are being insured, the amount insured and the cost of the insurance premium must all be specified.
Advertising, information and offer
In rental accommodation offers, the consumer must be provided with sufficient information concerning the dwelling's basic conditions, as well as the basic conditions of the contract. This information must be given before the receipt of any payment on account. The minimum information about an offer must include the following:
- A description and physical conditions of the dwelling, indicating the useful surface area and the services, installations and utilities (occupancy certificate or definitive qualification for HPO social housing).
- The total price of the rent, with a breakdown and details of services, and other amounts that will be assumed by the tenants, stating the periodicity of payment, the rental period, and the means of updating the price throughout the duration of the rental contract.
- Law 11/2020 for the Regulation of Rental Prices of the Generalitat of Catalonia establishes that contracts after September 22, 2020 must indicate the value of the reference index (€ / m2 accompanied by the document generated by the system of indexation of rental prices), if the apartment was rented, the price of the previous contract must be included. If the rent has been increased or reduced by 5%, the reasons must be explained.
- If a company selling a list of available rental accommodation is contracted, you must first ensure the seriousness and credibility of those professionals, in order to avoid unpleasant surprises (flats already rented, flats that the seller does not want to rent out, etc.). You should read the contract's conditions before signing it, and pay special attention to the conditions, the services offered, the price and the duration of the contract. If you are in any doubt, you can ask for a copy of the contract so that you can study it carefully before signing it.
- Pay careful attention to advertisements offering rental accommodation, to make sure that they are not misleading and that the offer really corresponds to the advertisement.
- If the situation is irregular, you can make an official complaint to the Generalitat of Catalonia.
The owner's rights and obligations
- To receive a deposit as a guarantee that the dwelling will be returned in good condition.
- To receive the payment of a fixed rent, that the dwelling is used for the agreed purpose and that good care is taken of it.
- The tenant has to repair any damage that may be caused to the dwelling.
- To increase the rent in accordance with the contract's specifications.
- To increase the rent due to improvement work to the dwelling after three years of the contract have passed, except where the parties have agreed not to do so.
- To interrupt the system of contract extensions, once the first year of the contract has passed. In this case, the landlord must inform the tenant that they need the rented accommodation for use as a permanent dwelling, either for themselves or first-degree relatives by blood or adoption; or for use by their spouse in the case of a final ruling for separation, divorce or annulment of the matrimony. This must be notified to the tenant at least two months before the date in which the dwelling is required, and the tenant will be obliged to leave the rented accommodation by this date unless the parties reach a different agreement.
- If the tenant does not comply with the agreements established in the contract, the owner will have the right to urge compliance, or to rescind the contract with compensation for damages.
- To rescind the contract because of non-payment of rent; if the tenant sublets the dwelling without the owner's consent or undertakes alteration work without consent; because of damage to the dwelling; or if the tenant has carried out annoying, unhealthy, harmful or dangerous activities.
- To ensure that the tenant enjoys the peaceful use of the accommodation.
- To carry out any necessary urgent repairs, or to pay the tenant the cost of those repairs.
- To guarantee the necessary conditions to ensure that the accommodation is habitable throughout the length of the contract.
- If the owner is a legal entity, the owner must bear the costs of real estate management and the formalization of the contract.
- It is not possible to demand more than one month's rent in advance.
- The owner cannot disturb the tenant in the peaceful use and possession of the accommodation.
- The owner must comply with the contract's clauses, or risk annulment by the tenant.
- The owner must inform the tenant about rent increases one month before they are applied.
- The owner is obliged to justify all the expenses, in general, which have led to an increase in the initially-agreed rent, with receipts, bills, etc.
The tenant's rights and obligations
- To check the state of the accommodation and the furniture, if it is furnished, before moving in.
- To verify that the person who is renting the accommodation is really the owner, which can be discovered by going to the Property Registry. They may also check that the person who is acting on behalf of the owner has sufficient power of attorney to do so.
- The peaceful use of the accommodation. The owner cannot disturb this use.
- The owner has to ensure the necessary conditions so that the accommodation is habitable throughout the duration of the contract.
- The owner cannot demand more than one month's rent in advance.
- To receive written justification of receipts that refer to the monthly rent, and which detail each and every concept for which the tenant is paying.
- Be guaranteed the rent for a minimum period of five years if the owner is a natural person and seven years if he is a legal person.
- To carry out improvement work that does not modify the layout of the accommodation, provided that permission is obtained from the owner.
- To terminate the contract.
- To recover the deposit when 30 days after the contract is finished, provided that there is no damage to the accommodation. If the owner refuses to return the deposit, the tenant has the right to demand an explanation of the reasons and proof that justifies them. In the case of furnished accommodation, it is recommendable that, before leaving the accommodation, the tenant and the owner check that everything is in order and sign a document indicating conformity.
- The right to subrogate in the contract in previously established cases.
- Before moving in, the tenant must pay the deposit.
- To pay the monthly rent, during the entire contract period.
- To look after the accommodation, and not undertake annoying, unhealthy or illegal activities.
- To use the rented accommodation as a place to live, for themselves or their family, and not to use it for other purposes than those agreed with the owner.
- To be responsible for the property's maintenance expenses (services, taxes, charges and responsibilities that correspond to the rented accommodation), provided that it has been agreed that the tenant will be responsible for these expenses.
- To pay for the contracted services (electricity, water, gas), which must be proven by means of payment receipts made available to the owner.
- To repair any damage that is the tenant's fault or due to negligence.
- To pay for improvement work done on the accommodation, with consent from the owner, provided that this does not alter the layout of the accommodation.
- To pay outstanding rent until the end of the contract, if the tenant leaves the accommodation before the contract is finished.
- Not to sublet the accommodation without prior approval from the owner.