How to rent an apartment in Spain

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In 2008, the bubble in Spain’s housing market finally burst.  This was the bubble that had driven the country to a collective mania that saw the construction of around 800,ooo new homes in one year alone, more than the UK, France and Germany combined.  It was difficult to find apartments to rent, and for the simple reason that everybody wanted to be a homeowner.

Thanks to the bubble bursting, there are a lot more rental properties on the Spanish market, although prices are still high for a country with 5 million unemployed.  A reasonable studio in the centre of Madrid for one person is unlikely to cost less than €600 per month, while a one-bedroom flat for a couple costs upwards of €700-€800.

But finding a place to rent isn’t the end of your problems: we have heard (and lived through) countless stories of feckless landlords who think that a washing line is a replacement for a wardrobe, windows are optional and that 2 working plugs in a flat for 6 people are acceptable living conditions.  To save you suffering, Gusto Guides has put together a list of tips for finding a place that is more cosy than cave-like.

  1. Take photos when you move into the flat and just before handing the keys over when you move out.  This will help prove you left the place in the same state you found it.  Unless you trash the place, in which case you will have a nice photographic reminder of the destruction you wreaked. Win-win.
  2. Check that the flat has heating, and whether it is centrally-controlled (for the whole building) or individual (more expensive).  It seems unlikely, but many apartments in the centre of Madrid and Barcelona do not have heating, and in winter it can be cold, with average winter temperatures in the capital around 6 degrees, often dipping to sub-zero at night.
  3. Check out the electrics. In many older buildings, the wiring is similarly antique meaning that trying to use more than 3 electrical items at a time (e.g. tv, heater and computer charger) shorts out the entire house.
  4. Attic flats tend to have better views and sometimes even come with their own private terrace.  There is a payoff, however, in that these apartments tend to be hotter in summer and colder in winter.
  5. If you are looking for a long-term let, try to avoid apartments in buildings where there are lots of tourist apartments.  As well as the bother of people continually moving into and out of the building, many locals have problems with noise levels, especially if the visitors decide to have shouty parties with lots of shouting.
  6. If your contract is short-term (less than 1 year), it might not be worth installing Internet, as many companies require a minimum stay of 1 year or more.  Check the penalties that will apply if you take out a contract for less than this, and consider looking into mobile routers, which are available on a more short-term basis without the need for installing a phone line.  When you move, you take it with you.  Simple.
  7. Sign a contract with the landlord in which it is specified exactly who is in charge of paying the bills and repairs around the house due to reasonable wear and tear. Exige al dueño que declare los ingresos a Hacienda, por si los pudieras deducir tú posteriormente.
  8. If you are going to rent a room, take a good look around before committing yourself. Choose your flatmates carefully and think about your personal safety, especially if you are a lone female. Also, we know of cases in which one initial tenant signed the lease on an apartment, before finding nice (often foreign) unsuspecting flatmates and charging them well over the odds, so that they themselves could live almost rent-free on the proceeds.  Don’t allow yourself to be ripped off.
  9. Know which websites to look at: the most popular are segundamano.es, loquo.es and idealista.com.

Cover photo: Flickr / Antonio Gil

Article photo: Flickr / Carlos90

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