Repairs and Liabilities for Spanish Landlords

Many British visitors and expats take advantage of the great deals in Spanish real estate and invest in properties in Marbella and Andalusia. They may use their villas and condos as a second home or for holidays. When not is use, some owners rent out their luxury holiday properties to generate income and help pay the bills.

Properties may be rented out by the week or long-term for a steady stream of income. It’s makes good sense, especially if you choose a reputable vacation rental management company. However, what happens when something breaks or repairs are needed to the property? We look at who is liable to pay for any repairs under Spanish law. Is it the owner’s or the tenant’s responsibility?

Who calls the repair technician?

Usually the tenant has the phone number of the rental agency or owner in case of a breakdown or emergency repair. The agency would notify the owner and the owner would make arrangements for a repair technician to call and assess the situation.

Tenants are obligated to immediately notify the landlord (or rental agency representing the landlord) in the case of a breakdown. Failure to report it could mean the tenant is responsible for the repair, particularly if it is a water leak, for example, which then causes further damage.

Only if the landlord ignores a written repair notice from the tenant should the tenant go ahead and contact a technician themselves. The tenant may have to pay for the repair as they authorised the technician to do the work, but they can then legally reclaim the cost from the landlord. Getting an invoice and receipt of payment is essential.

Owner’s Responsibility for Repairs

According to Spanish Law Article 21, the owner of any rented property has a legal requirement to keep the home in a habitable condition. This means that if the water heater or boiler breaks, it may require an expensive repair or replacement. Normally this would be the owner’s responsibility to pay for getting it back in working order, particularly if the boiler or heater is old. However, if the damage or breakdown is caused by the tenant misusing the item, they would be held responsible for paying for the repair or replacement.

It would be the job of a professional technician to determine the cause of the breakdown. When a repair company is called out, they will determine what the problem is and issue a report outlining the problem and what the estimated cost of repair or replacement would be.

If the problem is caused by incorrect installation or the age of the boiler, the owner will need to pay for the work. The tenant would only be responsible if misuse could be shown, whether intentionally or otherwise.

Tenant’s Responsibility for Repairs and Damage

The tenant is responsible under Spanish law for any deterioration or small repairs due to wear and tear of living in the house. The tenant is also responsible for covering any damage due to misuse, willful damage, damage caused by pets etc. This applies even if the tenant is only a short term holiday renter. Tenants will also be financially responsible for any items missing from the inventory, whether it’s a small kitchen item, towels or a piece of furniture.

This article is based on an original article published by EuroWeekly in November 2019.

4 Responses

  1. The bathtub has a hole in it and can’t be used. There is no shower. I have rented the property for 28 years. The landlord has been saying for the last six months that he will fix it. Do I have a right to stop paying rent until he does?

    1. Hi, I am afraid not, but what you could do is pay the repair and deduce it from the rent.
      Remember you will always need to have the invoice of this repair.

  2. Our hot water heater is not producing hot water. The owner is sending out a repair man bur says this is our responsibility to repair. I have read on several accounts this is not true, correct? We have lived in the apartment since June 2021. Thank you.

    1. Hi, It will depend on the contract, but usually it is the owners responsability, meaning that if he does not repair it you could do it and deduct the amount from the rent. You should always keep all the receipt as the proof of payment.

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