Renting a property in Spain – the essentials

renting in spain

Not everyone relocating to Spain owns property from the get-go. Buying and selling property in Spain is a very different experience than the UK for example, and buying in the wrong place can be an expensive mistake.

Rent before you buy is good advice we’d give to anyone planning on moving to Spain for the first time. Investing a few thousand euros to make sure that a place is right for you will save you time, heartache and a lot more money in the long run.


Why is the padron so important?
If you can’t register on the Padron, then you could have problems registering as a resident. 

If you are coming to live in Spain permanently, you will need to apply for your “residencia” – legal recognition of your right to reside in Spain. One of the key documents the National Police Foreigner’s Office wants to see as proof of your address is your Certificado de Empadronamiento. This is a Certificate of your ‘vivienda’ – your family’s permanent home.

In very rare cases, for example, if you have previously registered with Immigration in Spain, and the information about you on the system matches that of your application, the Padron may not be required. BUT this is normally only the case for EU citizens; third country nationals coming over on a visa will usually need to provide this proof of address. 

Not every rental property will allow you to register on the padron. If the agent/owner/landlord won’t let you register on the Padron, then consider walking away.

Beware – if a property is a holiday or short term let (‘vacacional’ or ‘corta temporada’ in Spanish) and has a rental licence number (by law, properties must quote their rental licence number on all adverts) then you won’t be able to register on the padron using that address. This also applies to tourist properties like timeshare, as well as some private rentals. 

Ask before doing any viewings, and don’t waste time on properties that aren’t suitable.

Make sure your contract is legal and above board
Renters are quite well-protected in Spain, as long as they have a properly drawn up contract under the Ley de Arrendamientos Urbanos – LAU for short and here are some template contracts for different circumstances from one of the top property rental portals in Spain, Idealista

While there are many excellent real estate agents about, there are some not so great ones too. Trying to find a rental via the internet is not as easy as it sounds – Spain is still very much a “meet and greet” country rather than a “virtual” one.

If you can, go by personal recommendation and take the time to make a discovery trip (or several!) to your chosen area to meet agents face to face and explore. 

Renting directly from the landlord can save you money on fees and deposits, but you’ll need good language skills and prior knowledge of the area, so this may not be the best route for first timers. If it’s not your first rodeo in Spain with renting property, then going direct is a great way to integrate and develop your roots in your preferred location, as well as saving a bit of money.

Whichever route you choose, make sure you get a contract, in writing and if it’s in Spanish (which it will be) GET IT CHECKED by a fluent Spanish speaker with no vested interest.

Deposits, paying your rent and tax

When renting a property, the landlord or agent is supposed to register the rental with the Junta de Andalucia and lodge the deposit in a kind of escrow account. When the rental contract comes to an end, the deposit is then returned to the renter (subject to all the contract clauses being met). If there are any disputes, the deposit is held by the Junta de Andalucia until the issue is resolved.

Paying your rent
We always recommend that you pay your rent through the bank and not in cash, to make sure there’s a paper trail for the Tax Agency should they ever come knocking and also to provide evidence of your rights under the LAU. 

Tax considerations
In certain circumstances, you can offset rental payments against your income for tax purposes, but you will need proof of payment as well as the rental contract itself.

Landlords too can take advantage of favourable tax rates on income for long term rentals.

Keep the receipts from your bank account because if the Tax Agency wants to check up on you, they can go back 4 years and you need proper proof – handwritten receipts won’t be sufficient.

Upsticks Top Tips

Don’t let your heart rule your head

While you may have visited the same area for years on holiday and loved it, living in a place is totally different from holidaying there.

  • Will the fantastic bars and nightlife that made for such great memories be closed during the winter, or keep you awake at night? 
  • That gorgeous little finca in the middle of the campo (nowhere) is peace and quiet personified for a restful break, but how practical is it really? Think about how you would shop and socialise, and if it will be as idyllic in winter as it is in summer
  • A classic Spanish town house/flat in the middle of the old town is fabulous, but what’s the parking like? How close will you be to fiestas, processions and ferias – great fun if you enjoy bustle, not so much if you prefer a quiet life.
  • 300 days of sun is just amazing, but think about how you’d cope with seriously hot summers for months instead of just a couple of weeks. Would coastal breezes or fresh mountain air suit you best?
  • Are you looking for a ready-made social circle with lots of your compatriots around? Then a purpose-built urbanización (housing development or estate) would be right up your street. However, if that’s what you’re looking to avoid at all costs, then an established Spanish community in a decent sized town would suit you better.

All that being said, if you are renting, and it doesn’t work out, you can just move on and try somewhere else. 

Welcome to Spain!

The information in this article was current on the date published.
Article last reviewed/updated 10.08.2022

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