Your rights as a tenant: Important aspects when renting a flat in Barcelona

First of all you have to know that all rental contracts in Spain are based on the Spanish Law of Urban Leases or “Ley de Arrendamientos Urbanísticos (LAU) 29/1994”, including the modification of the laws “LEY 4/2013” and “LEY 2/2015”. You can find the complete law online on the webpage of the Spanish State

This law governs all aspects of a rental agreement, some of them with a mandatory character for both parties and others in the case that the parties haven’t agreed on. The LAU protects the tenants with its mandatory character in a lot of aspects of a rental agreement.

As a tenant with a regular long-term contact for an apartment in Barcelona you should know some of your rights. But keep in mind that the current situation in Barcelona gives the landlord’s a strong position and they normally have a strong position the aspects not regulated by the LAU.

Landlord and tenant can agree before signing the contract the duration of the contract. The LAU imposes a minimum of three years for a rental agreement.  If the rental period is less then that, it will be mandatory for annual periods until the rental reaches a minimum duration of three years (mandatory extension).

Monthly rent
Landlord and tenant can agree before the signing of the contract the price of the monthly rent. Keep in mind that the current situation in Barcelona gives the landlords a strong position and usually they’ll impose the rent they want to charge.

During the term of the contract, the rent can only be updated annually and in the terms agreed by both parties! This revision is mostly made according to the consumer price index or índice de precios al consumo (IPC).

If, after these three years of the contract, neither landlord nor tenant notify the willingness to terminate it 30 days in advance, the contract will be extended for another year (automatic implied extension).

Early Termination of Contract
The tenant can cancel the contract after six months, as long as they notify the landlord at least 30 days in advance.

If so agreed in the contract, the lessee must indemnify the owner with an amount equivalent to one month’s rent for each year the contract that remains unfulfilled.

If the contract is terminated within less than one year period left on the contact, the tenant will pay a portion of each month that is left on the contract.

The landlord cannot cancel the contract during the entire three years!

Legal deposit
At the end of the contract, if the property is in good condition the owner will request the re-entry of the deposit to the corresponding entity, in Barcelona it’s the, Institut Catala Del Sol (INCASOL). This entity will pay back money to owners bank account and the owner has to pay it to the tenant. This process of reimbursement can take between 4 and 6 weeks.

It is important to understand the difference between a legal deposit and a  additional deposit:

  • The legal deposit according to the LAU, which is paid to the owner and he pays it in the name of the tenant to the corresponding entity (INCASOL). The amount is equal to one (1) month’s rent.
  • An additional deposit that the owner wants to ask for (as additional security) and that he keeps in his own bank account. The amount can be agreed between both parties. Normally it is between 1 (for a simple apartment, no furniture) up to 4 (high-end apartment, with furniture and complete household appliances) monthly rent.

Change of ownership
If there is a change of ownership of the property, tenants with homes registered in the Land Registry (in Spanish: “Registro de la Propiedad”) can maintain the contract with the same rights and obligations. The new owner cannot modify the existing contracts.

Statement of Income (Declaración de la renta)
The tenants can deduct the annual amount of the rent for their primary residence in the statement of income (declaración de la renta). The percentage depends on the tax base and the remodel made by the tenant (only if the remodels are agreed with the owner).

Improvements made to the flat
The tenant can perform improvement work (never if they affect the stability or security of the home) if the landlord allows it in writing. Both can agree that in return the payment of the rent (total or partial) is replaced for a time. But keep in mind, if the work isn’t done in the agreed terms or without the approval of the landlord, the landlord has the right to terminate the contract.

Please, do not forget the basic obligations you have as a tenant. A good relationship with the owner will make everything a lot easier for both parties.

  • Pay the legal deposit and additional deposit, when formalizing the rental contract.
  • Pay on the agreed terms the monthly payment of the rent.
  • Leave the house as it was before the end of the rental agreement.


I hope this article was helpful for you.