Firstly, make sure the property suits your needs – think about factors such as location, storage, parking, heating, and neighbours. Don't get talked into something you will regret.
Also, remember there are lots of agents around and a jazzy website or even an office is no longer a guarantee that they are reputable. Many simple want to take the money and not get involved if any problems arise. Research local agents and community sites on Google - some have a bad reputation and rely on new people moving to the area because they do not get much repeat business. Ask people at the schools and new friends who they rented through and their experience. Also, look at how quickly an Agent responded to your initial enquiry – if you have to keep chasing them for information this is not a good start. Try calling a mobile number out of hours and see if they reply. If possible, meet the agent in person to see how helpful they are.
Finally, many agents advertise properties on their website that are no longer available. They keep them on there to stimulate interest so that they get your contact details when you make an enquiry. Ultimately, be aware that not everything you see is available.
Most local agents will charge an agency ‘Finder's' Fee but always check the amount first. VíllaMía charges a month's rent plus 21% IVA (like VAT in the UK). However, many agents, not established for a fraction of the time, are charging this or some even a month and half. Sometimes a number of agents have been asked to advertise the same properties so make sure you shop around and check various agencies. Also, make sure there is no ‘Renewal Fee' should you wish to extend your contract. It is best to use an SL - this means they are a registered legal company in Spain and any monies go into a company account. There are many autonomo (self-employed) agencies that set up and you take a risk paying into their personal account - especially risky if they don't have an office. If they have an address on the website and the main one is Buzon then this is just a postbox.
It is unusual for a landlord to need to accept offers at a lower monthly rental than that advertised. This is because demand for quality properties, for a long-term rental, is quite high. However, it may be possible to pay slightly less than the advertised price if the property has been emptying for a while. You may also be able to pay less if the timings are good for the landlord, therefore minimising any gap between the tenants leaving and you moving in. Always ask the agent how negotiable the owner is and what their current or last tenants paid.
Check the contract includes all the relevant information, such as what the rent covers! Does it include the basura bill (for the rubbish collection), or the community fees if an apartment or pool and garden maintenance if a villa? Can you leave before the end of the tenancy, how much notice will you have to give, and are there any rules on things like pets and smoking?
Some properties will accept pets, whilst other owners prefer not. If it is not stated either way you should check with the agent before committing to a property. Some urbanisations simply do not allow pets, and therefore it is not always the decision of the owner. If an apartment, the contract should also include whether there is a parking space included and trastero (storage) and their numbers.
Rental deposits can vary so check what you need to pay as a deposit, along with the first month's rent and agency commission. The deposit and commission are non-refundable if the potential tenant changes his/her mind and pulls out of the rental. The full amount needs to be paid before you get keys.
Ask your agent if they have rented the property before and if you can speak to the previous tenant. Check if they were happy with their landlord and if their deposit was returned. Ask local friends who they rented through and if they got their deposit back from the agency involved. Lastly, check if the contract states whether the deposit is returnable as long as bills are paid and there is no damage caused by yourself.
As long as the contract is not broken, the deposit should be returned in full at the end of the rental period, minus any charges for damage, breakages or unpaid bills.
The inventory is a list of everything that's provided with the property including furniture, appliances, crockery and cutlery. It should also record the condition everything is in – for example, existing damage or wear, such as an old mark on the wall.
Always make sure you are provided with an accurate inventory – ask for one if necessary. If you're not given one, write one up yourself, sign it and send it to the agency for their records.
Sometimes it may not be a list but photographs of each room, which is fine. Be sure to email details of anything you notice in the first few weeks so you are not blamed at the end.
Remember long term rentals don't usually include linens so you will need to supply your own bedding and towels.
Don't forget to factor in costs on top of the rent, such as utility bills, internet and TV costs.
Ask your agency if they will change the payments of gas, water and electricity into your bank account. Make sure you are not paying for usage before you have moved in. They should also confirm when you move into the property that all payments are up to date.
Also, check if your agency will help set up Sat. TV, a phone line and internet service. If you want any of these organised it should be included in the Finder's Fee. If your electricity bills are high speak to your agent and see if you can change tariffs.
Usually, owners pay the IBI tax and tenants are responsible for utility bills only, plus any extras like phone and Internet. Villas vary by owners and payment for pool and garden maintenance can vary.
It is the responsibility of the tenants to ensure that the condition of the property and, where applicable, the garden is maintained. Cleaning and repairs to slight damage should be paid for by the tenants during their rental period.
Here in Spain, humidity is high and tenants are responsible for ensuring that properties are well ventilated, especially during winter months when heating is in use.
Any machinery failure, such as washing machines or boilers, should be checked by a qualified technician via the agent and costs of repair apportioned as per the findings of the technician. Usually, the cost for these repairs will be paid for by the landlord, as both of these failings are due to simple wear and tear. However, if damage has been caused by the tenants then they are responsible for paying the repair bill. These situations are usually dealt with quickly and logically by the agent.
It is important in bad weather that awnings are not left open and any outside furniture should be stored away safely. Owners may have other requests which should be sent in writing when you move in.
Who to contact depends on who is "managing" the rental? Sometimes agents are used to simply source tenants and are not retained, nor paid to participate further in the rental. In this case, the tenants should address any queries directly to the owner. In other instances the agent provides the first point of contact and then liaises with the owner. In this case, queries should be addressed to the agent. Either way, always make sure you have everything in writing.
Agents should make a suitable time for the Exit Inspection when they will check the inventory, take meter readings, check gas levels if appropriate and collect the keys.
The utility companies will then confirm the amounts owed from the last paid bill to the meter reading, which is then usually deducted from the deposit and bills returned to the owner's account. At the end of the tenancy you should get your deposit back within a few weeks and you and your landlord should agree the amount. Your landlord can't keep your deposit because of ´general wear and tear´.
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