Renting a property in Tenerife
Many people who want to live in Tenerife long-term rent a property here before buying. This is good practice, because there are so many variables in terms of dwellings and areas, and many people commit to a purchase only to find that they are homesick, or their circumstances change, within a year or two and they are then left with a property to sell in what, particularly at present, might be a difficult market.
If you are using an agency, view the widest range of properties. There will inevitably be much doubling up of properties, with owners putting their properties on the books of as many agents as possible to secure a tenant. Check that the property you are considering isn’t on other agents’ books: it might be available at a lower rent. You can also rent privately, and should look out for signs saying se alquila, which means “for let”. Don’t be afraid to ring these numbers thinking the landlord is going to be Spanish. Many English owners will use them too because they will be hoping to attract the widest possible range of enquiries, from prospective Spanish tenants as well as English.
When renting, you should be aware that there are two types of rental contracts here: short- and long-term, and the length of a rental contract will vary depending on which it is. Long-term contracts (contrato de arrendamiento de vivienda) are, properly speaking, the only formally-understood residential lets, and are for a minimum of one year. The tenant is protected by law to a very high degree, including having the right to renew the contract for up to a further four years, with rent increases at no more than the rate of inflation.
Owners often do not enjoy the prospect of such a highly legally-protected tenant, however, and so short term contracts (contrato de arrendamiento por temporada) are common, running normally for three or six months. Note, though, that these contracts are expressly for a specific purpose, e.g. temporary work placement, study, etc., and not for habitual residence: indeed, the tenant’s primary and habitual residence must be detailed on the contract. Note, too, that although these contracts can technically run for a period even as short as one day, anything under three months will be deemed as touristic by the Government, and this is not something that can be effected on a residential complex, nor privately by an owner on a touristic one. Given these provisos, the contracts are perfectly legal, though the Courts can change a short term contract to a long term one if the tenant can show that the property has become his or her habitual home. This is to protect tenants from landlords who give repeated short-term contracts in an attempt to avoid passing on the legal protections that long-term contracts bestow.
To be fully legal, contracts must be in Spanish, signed by landlord and tenant, and contain ID numbers (NIE for foreigners) of both. In theory, rental contracts should be signed before a notary and recorded at the Spanish Land Registry (Registro de la Propiedad), but the reality is often much more informal. Along with the contract you should get an inventory of items in the property, and the condition they are in. Check these thoroughly, because if there is any discrepancy, it is likely to involve a deduction from your deposit when you leave. If there are any marks or damages, particularly if these are not specified in the inventory, take photographs, and resolve the issue as early as possible rather than waiting until you vacate.
You can expect to pay your rent in advance, and therefore the first month’s rent will be payable when you take possession. You will almost certainly also be asked to pay a deposit which will be held against any damage or debt incurred during your tenancy. If all is well when you leave, then you should get your deposit back. The deposit may be called a deposit or a bond, or in Spanish, fianza.
Sometimes prospective tenants are asked for a deposit of more than the equivalent of one month’s rent, but this is uncommon, and if you are prepared to consider it, make very sure that it is in fact for a refundable deposit, rather than a non-refundable agent’s administration or contract fee, which is a frequent charge when using a rental agent. It is important to determine the nature of all monies handed over, and for them to be specifically identified in the contract, along with the fact that they are refundable. Needless to say, you should get individual receipts for all monies handed over, whether deposit or monthly rental payments.
Some rentals include a certain amount for utilities usage, often up to around €50 or so per month, with the tenant paying any extra when the bill arrives. Apart from electricity and water, however, landlords themselves normally pay the rates (IBIs) and the community charge if the rented property is on a complex. Clearly it is important to know in advance what commitments there will be for ongoing expenses in addition to the rent, and these should be clearly detailed in the contract.
When leaving a rented property, tenants are required to give the period of notice stipulated in the contract. Under legislation which came into force on 6 June 2013, however, they will be able to terminate a contract without having to pay compensation by giving just one month’s notice, providing that they have had the contract for at least six months. Similarly, once the property has been let for a full year and the contract has been renewed, the owner of the property will be able from that point to recover it for use as a main home with notice of two months.
Tenants can also be evicted, of course, and the usual reason is for non-payment of rent. It is important to be aware that even if you feel justified in withholding payment, e.g. for requested repairs that have not been carried out, the law expects payment to be made and for the claim then to be dealt with separately. To date, tenants have been able to avoid eviction by paying rental arrears just before a Court hearing, at least on the first occasion, but under the 2013 legislation I mentioned above, landlords will be able to apply for eviction in just ten days if rent is outstanding. The Courts will grant the order unless the tenant can present satisfactory argument for non-payment – which would be difficult to do, evidently. Apart from non-payment of rent, a tenant may be evicted for sub-letting, using the property for a purpose other than living in it, intentionally damaging the property, or carrying out noisy, dangerous or illegal activities.