Advice for expat Brits on letting their Spanish property

Published:  21 Nov at 6 PM
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British retirees in Spain are no clearer about their futures five months after the Brexit vote turned their lives upside down, but some may be considering moving back home after renting out their Spanish properties.

As the myriad controversies surrounding Brexit continue, stress as regards the right to remain felt by UK retirees at present living in Spain is increasing exponentially. After the recent news that the Spanish property market is reviving in popularity, some may well be considering returning to the UK after letting their Spanish homes in order to get a higher selling price at a later date.

The rental option could be a temporary solution for UK citizens with investments or adequate private pensions, and letting isn’t as complicated as it seems. Myths about tenant rights abound, but the reality of newer laws benefiting landlords can work in absentee owners’ favour.

Firstly, the much-repeated myth of tenants having all the rights and landlords’ hands being tied in disputes is no longer true. Spain’s law on urban, long-term lets is well balanced between the rights of both parties, and unpaid rent, subletting and nuisance to neighbours can all result in fast, legal evictions.

Another myth suggesting tenants will trash the house and its contents, leaving the landlord to foot the bill, is not based on fact as, similar to letting laws in the UK, contracts should have a comprehensive inventory attached. The document should be signed by new tenants and, when they leave, a further inventory should be taken and any damage or discrepancies made good using the renter’s original deposit.

Another worry is that tenants can ran up huge services bills, although water rates and community charges are the landlord’s responsibility. The rental contract should state the tenant is responsible for electricity, gas, phone and internet bills, ensuring that it’s not the landlord’s responsibility should the tenant leave without paying.

Advice to avoid using a solicitor when letting is bad advice, simply because getting the rental contract in exact compliance with Spanish law is important. Extra clauses about repossession at your convenience can be included, and might just be useful for Britons who would love to return to Spain if Brexit is cancelled.

The most important essential for landlords is registering with the Spanish tax authorities, as they can find non-official landlords very easily should they so wish. Tax is payable on rental income, even if the landlord is living overseas, and tax evasion is taken seriously by the authorities.

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