10 Things to Know before Renting a Property in Madrid
There are several important things many freshly arrived expats do not know when looking for a flat. So here it is, the list of the 10 things I wish I would have known when I arrived here !
1. Rent includes taxes but not bills in most cases
Utilities are usually not included in rent. Have a look at my post with how much you might spend on utilities. Community charges and taxes are usually included, apart when it’s specified otherwise. Refuse to pay any additional new taxes the Madrid government create if they are not on the initial contract.
2. The minimum legal duration of standard contracts is 6 months, but most landlord ask for 12 months
Most rentals request standard mnimum contract duration of 1 year, but short-term contracts can be found.
If you need a shorter contract, you will in most cases have to go to companies who manage short-term apartmnt rentals. This will increase the monthly rental by 20-50% compared to yearly ones.
3. Realtors working for the landlord may charge you
Classic real estate agencies work for the landlord, to find him a tenant. However, although the services are for the landlord, many charge these services to the tenant: between 1 month’s rent or 100 € when moving in. Yes, you heard it – they do nothing for you, but they do charge you. That is because there is a lack of quality rental apartments in Madrid and agencies can leverage this negotiation position still. It is changing slowly though.
Therefore some apartments will be without any agency fee (either because it’s a landlord directly or because this agency does not charge the tenant), and some will have fees.
To compare apartments with different entry fees, I recommend not avoiding all apartments with agency fees (they have some of the best stuff many times), but rather benchmark the different apartments by including the fee in the rental. For instance: 1000 €+ agency fee of 1 month, average stay being of 20 months, add 5 % to the rental price to compare it to a non-agency fee apartment at 1100 €. 1000 + 5% is the equivalent 1050 € a month, still a better deal if same quality than the non agency fee.
This is different of relocation and property search companies who search for you and are on your side, and therefore charge you when they have made sure you are now settled and satisfied.
4. Think about the noise level at night
If your apartment is somewhere in the city center, you should make sure the noise level is Ok with you, and you should come back at night to make sure the flat you want to rent is not on one of the major party streets. Some of the busiest streets at night in the party neighbourhood of Malasaña really look calm during the day …
5. Depending on the flat, you might or might not need A/C
You might or might not need A/C: If your apartment is facing south, and is exterior, you need air conditioning. Madrid in august is as hot as 40ºC, but you can live without it if you apartment is not too exposed and/or you are used to high temperatures. And if you are not here in August, it’s maybe not an obligation to have A/C. The best is to ask former tenants or neighbours.
6. “Exterior” usually means better view and more light
“Exterior” means your apartment has windows on the outside of the building. Many apartments have only windows facing the interior court. They can be really great, it depends on your tastes and on the specific design of the flat.
7. Deposit – legally: 1 month unfurnished, 2 months furnished.
Legally, the amount permitted is 1 month for rentals superior to one year, and if it’s rented furnished, or rented for shorter periods, 2 months in total is the legal amount.
However, many ask for more, some up to 6 months, and on average, for top quality apartment, expect 3 months. As professionals, we usually negotiate it down.
8. On top of the deposit, some ask for a bank guarantee
On top of the deposit, your landlord may ask for additional “aval bancario” or bank guarantee of 6 months for instance. This means you need to put 6 months rent in a Spanish bank, pay about 1% a month in commissions, and if you have issues paying rent, the landlord will have the right to directly help himself in this account.
9. Who pays for what maintenance ?
The landlord is responsible for maintening the level of livability of the apartment. In practical terms, if something breaks down because of normal wear and tear, he should replace it.
If you break something, or if the maintenance is worth less than around 75 €, then you are responsible for it: light bulbs, paint, cleaning etc…
10. Do get a pro to check your contract
Read your contract carefully, get it translated, clarify every ambiguous point with your potential landlord. Especially review the inventory, write every kind of damage you can see in the flat, take photos and send an updated version of the inventory to the landlord.
Do read my guide to rental contracts in Spain to do a first good review of your contract. If you need a lawyer to make sure it’s 100% secure, I have a deal with a specialized lawyer to review it and produce a paper ensuring he is responsible for the quality of this contract for 100 € per contract. Send me an email at email@moving2madrid if you need this.
With this renters’ cheat-sheet, I would have avoided many issues and doubt I had with my first rentals. I really hope it will help you with your search and ensure you have a great stay !
If you need our help to make your move to Madrid zen, send us an email !
Pierre Waters – Madrid Relocation Expert