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How to rent an apartment in Barcelona (a 10 step guide)

How To Rent An Apartment In Barcelona (A 10 Step Guide)

Arriving In Barcelona

Barcelona is one of the most attractive cities in Europe. People from all around the world come to this city to study, work, start a business or spend some vacation time. It’s the city that has everything! Close to the beach and the mountains. It has a big cultural scene and a vast array of restaurants and bars. Here you’ll also find beautiful architecture and historical landmarks.

Because of all these reasons it’s normally not easy to rent an apartment in Barcelona. The demand for rental apartments is very high, yet the supply is quite limited. This leads to a very fast market (meaning sometimes a flat will be gone in hours). Also, some real estate agencies might not perform with the highest customer service, since they know the apartment will be rented out eventually.

In this post we’d like to take you through the steps of renting an apartment in Barcelona, hopefully saving you some time, stress, and money.

This Post at a Glimpse

1

Get your documents in order

As mentioned the rental market in Barcelona is very fast. Sometimes a flat might be gone in a matter of hours. This is why at Property Management Barcelona, we suggest that you get all your documentation ready, before you even start with the search.

Once you find the flat of your dreams, you’ll be able to send the papers quickly. Normally real estate agents will treat all applicants in order of arrival. So this speed might pay off with a new home!

Here are the documents you’ll need in order to rent an apartment in barcelona:

  • Passport, NIE (Spanish ID) or any other form of ID. Preferably with a picture.
  • Work contract, or any other evidence of employment. Either of yourself or somebody that can sign on your behalf (like a parent).
  • Last three payslips.
  • A bank extract proving you have sufficient funds for the rent payments. This one is not mandatory but might help a lot.
  • Personal references. Again not mandatory but helpful.
  • Spanish bank account. For the landlords to withdraw monthly payments.

 

The main purpose of these documents is to prove that you are solvent. That you’ll be able to pay the rent on time, every month. So if you have any other documents that might help your case feel free to add them. Have all documents in a low weight PDF, ready to be sent as soon as you find your apartment in Barcelona. We promise this will help a great deal in order to avoid stress further down the line.

How to rent an apartment in barcelona, the documents

2

Long term vs Short term rentals

If you’re planning to stay a while in your next apartment, you’ll need to decide if you prefer a long term contract or a short term contract. Both of them are different, not only in their duration.

Long term rental

Duration: 5 years with a mandatory period of 6 months for the tenant. After that, you’ll be able to get 3 one year extensions on that same contract. (if the landlord is a company, the initial period goes up to 7 years).

Deposit: It’s customary for the landlords to ask for a two months deposit. Although legally they are just required to ask for a one month deposit.

Utilities: Utilities are not included in long term contracts. Meaning you’ll have to switch them over to your name and pay them directly after moving in.

Furniture: Furniture may or may not be included in a long term apartment. This depends on the owner, even dough most are not furnished.

Price: Prices for long term apartments are lower than short term rentals. Around 20% less in general

Taxes: The ITP (patrimonial transmission tax) needs to be paid by the tenant. Long term contracts have a tax break on this (they pay nothing). But the paperwork still needs to be presented. Talk to your real estate agent about this.

 

Short term rental

Duration: Short term contracts can last anything in between 32 days and 11 months. The tenant will have to full fill the entire duration of the contract. Once the contract is completed both parties can agree on a new contract if they wish to extend.

Deposit: By law the landlord is required to ask for a two month deposit.

Utilities: These will already be working in the flat, and the landlord will normally ask for a separate payment for them, on top of rent. Around 250€ approximately.

Furniture: Furniture should always be included in a short term rental apartment.

Price: Since the apartment will be furnished and the risk for vacancy is higher than at a long term rental, the landlords will charge a premium. Around 20% more.

Taxes: At short term rentals the tenant will need to pay the ITP tax. It corresponds to 0,5% of the total rent amount established in the contract. 

Interested? Here’s another post: Short term rental in Barcelona explained!

3

Searching for your new apartment in Barcelona!

Nowadays the quickest and most efficient way to find an apartment in Barcelona to rent, is off course online search. A few of the biggest and best real estate portals in Spain are:

While you’re searching keep in mind a few of the following things:

Interior vs Exterior: Exterior means the windows / balconies of the property will face the street. More sunlight and better views, but also more noise. Interior means the windows will face the inner courtyard, less noise but no view at all.

Which floor the flat is on: Barcelona is a noisy city, specially in the center. The higher you are, the farther away you’ll be from the noise. But also keep in mind, landlords charge a premium for said height.

Elevator: Since most of the buildings in Barcelona’s center where built more than a 100 years ago, many don’t have an elevator. This might be a deciding factor for you. Depending on your familiar status, age and general activity.

Balcony or terrace: Many Barcelona apartments face rather dark and narrow streets. This makes a balcony or terrace a huge plus. You’ll get some fresh air and sunlight. You will also be charged a premium for these (specially a roof top terrace).

Condition of the apartment: Some apartments are ready to move in, others need a slight renovation. If a renovation is needed it’s customary for the tenant to request for a couple of months without paying rent. This way they’ll be able ton fix what needs to be fixed.

How to rent an apartment in Barcelona, the search

4

Dealing with real estate agencies

The demand for rental apartments in Barcelona is very high. This simply is so, because there aren’t enough apartments for all the people interested in renting. It’s not unusual for real estate agencies to be flooded with requests, just hours after having published a flat.

This means you’ll most likely have a tough time getting any sort of response from the agent. Real estate agencies know that they’ll eventually rent the apartment, so they mostly don’t bother with replying to all requests.

Another negative is that most real estate agents in Barcelona don’t speak English. This means they will not reply to messages written in English or any other language that’s not Spanish or Catalan. 

But don’t despair! If you didn’t get a reply to your email, just call. If they don’t answer your calls just keep trying! Sometimes it takes a while but the insistent person will eventually get through.

It’s customary for local real estate agencies to charge 10% of a yearly rental income + tax as agency fees. Example: If rent is 1000€ a month you’d pay 1452€ in agency fees (1000€*12*10%*1,21)

We know that this way of doing business might seem strange to most people around the world. If you don’t want to go through this process get in touch! We’d love to help out and avoid you all the headaches.

Update: On May 26th, 2023 the new Spanish housing law enters into effect (ley 12/2023) 

It is now forbidden for the tenant to pay the agency fees. The agency fees shall only be charged to the landlord. This update is only applicable to long term contracts (5 years +). Short term contracts (32 days up to 11 months) and tourist rentals don’t fall under this law.

how to rent an apartment in barcelona, the real estate agent

5

Best areas to live in Barcelona

We’d love to offer you a brief description of the best areas in Barcelona. If you’d like a longer description please check out our post: Best neighbourhoods to live in Barcelona

The old city (Ciutat Vella): The old city is one of Barcelona’s most popular areas. Many tourist, lots of nightlife and every cultural aspects Barcelona has to offer can be found here. It’s divided into a few neighbourhoods each with it’s own pros and cons:

  • Barceloneta: Right next to the beach, lots of tourists in the summer and smaller apartments. Being on the beach is great, but consider carefully if it’s worth the added noise. Price for a 2 bedroom, 60-80m2 apartment: 32€ / m2
  • Born (aka: Sant Pere – Santa Caterina i la Ribera): Beautiful neighbourhood, full of history, small alleys, shops and great gastronomy. Price for a 2 bedroom, 60-80m2 apartment: 30€ / m2
  • Gothic quarterAlso beautiful, it’s the heart of the old city, lots of remnants of the roman walls and similar gastronomy than born. A little less safe than Born or Barceloneta but still a good area. Price for a 2 bedroom, 60-80m2 apartment: 28€ / m2
  • Raval: Next to the famous ramblas, a quarter full of art, museums and street vibes. Definitely the least safe of the old city. We wouldn’t recommend you start your Barcelona experience here. Price for a 2 bedroom, 60-80m2 apartment: 24€ / m2

 

The eixample (the expansion): This is Barcelona’s business hub. Full of office buildings, very safe and great local restaurants. The streets are relatively quiet at night. Price for a 2 bedroom, 60-80m2 apartment: 30€ / m2

GraciaA charming area, family life oriented, small streets and plazas full of nice cafés and restaurants. Very safe and beautiful. Price for a 2 bedroom, 60-80m2 apartment: 30€ / m2

Sarria – Sant Gervasi: Old money in Barcelona made this area their home. High end stores, quiet streets and office buildings, are next to beautiful villas and expensive properties. Price for a 2 bedroom, 60-80m2 apartment: 30€ / m2

Poble Sec: Nice area right next to the Montjuic hill. Close to nature, full of small tapas places.  You’ll live amongst locals and expats. Price for a 2 bedroom, 60-80m2 apartment: 25€ / m2

Poble Nou: Barcelona’s chic neighbourhood. Many start ups, bohemian style and great living conditions. Also close to the beach, and quite safe. Price for a 2 bedroom, 60-80m2 apartment: 32€ / m2

how to rent an apartment in barcelona, the best areas

6

Visiting your future apartment in Barcelona

Here are some tips and tricks during the visits of the Barcelona apartments.

Light: Try to visit the apartment during the day. It’s great to get a feel of how much light the place actually has. Avoid visits at night or in the late afternoon.

Neighbours: During the visit check if there are any noisy neighbours, or loud pets. Ask the real estate agent if there have been any issues with previous tenants.

Look for issues: Have a look at all appliances, doors, and windows. Be sure to note if anything is broken or deficient in any way. Once you’re sure you’ll get the apartment, bring these points up. Then ask for the landlord to fix them before you move in.

Check the surroundings: Make sure to walk around the neighbourhood, before you settle for one specific apartment. It might be a good idea to go back at night, just to see if you feel safe enough.

Transportation and commodities: Check if the apartment is close enough to public transportation, supermarkets, hospitals, and schools if needed.

Who is responsible: Ask who’d be responsible if anything breaks down. Also who your connection would be in case there are any eventualities. Make sure to get this in writing in the contract.

7

You've found your barcelona apartment, what's next?

You’ve searched far and wide, and finally found the apartment of your dreams. 

Lease commitment: Most real estate agencies will ask you to sign a “Lease commitment” document. This document will state the rental conditions, rental period, price and everything else relevant to the rental.

Reservation: At this stage the agency will ask you to pay out a “reservation” which corresponds to the agency fee (normally 10% of the yearly rental income + tax).  If the rental agreement doesn’t come to fruition you should always get this reservation back. Make sure that this is stated in the lease commitment.

Landlords approval: Only once you’ve signed the lease commitment, paid out the reservation and sent over your documentation will the agency present everything to the owner. The real estate agencies proceed this way to avoid any non serious offers.

Once the landlord receives everything, he has a specific amount of days to accept or reject the applicant. Again, if rejected, you should immediately get back the money paid out as reservation. If accepted, only one thing remains. Signing the rental contract.

visiting your future apartment

8

The rental contract

Here are some important points to keep in mind before signing your rental contract. Normally the contract will be signed a few days before you enter your new department. Since it’s a private contract, there is not a specific model. Every agency uses it’s own version.

Rental conditions: In Barcelona it’s customary to ask for a 2 month deposit + the first month of rent + agency fees and any associated costs (like ITP tax payment, final cleaning or utilities costs if applicable). All of these conditions should be duly reflected in the rental contract, and are supposed to be paid by the tenant directly after signing.

Contract termination clauses: Be sure to read and understand all contract termination clauses. These may vary significantly depending on the landlord. But if you breach any of them, the landlord will have just cause to terminate the contract. 

Abusive clauses: These are not common, but it definitely pays to read through the contract in order to avoid them. A typical one is to request a penalty payment from the tenant should he terminate the contract prior to a specific date. While legal, this clause is mostly overlooked and can easily be replaced by an extended notice period.

Deposit: After signing the contract the real estate agency should send your deposit to Incasol. This is the local government agency in charge of keeping deposits safe. Make sure this is stated in the contract as well. 

Inventory: The contract should include an inventory of everything that will be in the flat and the current condition. Furniture, appliances, etc. All should be named. This way there won’t be any misunderstandings once the contract is up.

Property tax + common areas expenses: These two costs are normally included in the monthly rental amount. Make sure this is specified in the contract.

Once everything has been checked you’re ready to sign! 

After signing you should receive your keys, and that’s it! You’re ready to move into your new Barcelona apartment.

how to rent an apartment in barcelona, the contract

9

Avoid scams

Sadly there are a few scammers out there. People that try to get your money and offer nothing in return. The most important rule for identifying any scammer is: If it’s too good to be true, then it isn’t!

Beautiful apartments, at a very low price. Presented via amazing pictures and videos. These are normally scammers trying to attract innocent people, and cheat them out of their reservation money.

Never send out any money before you’ve seen the apartment. A typical tactic is to pressure you, saying there are several interested parties. Before you send out any reservation money, be sure to have seen the apartment. If you are not in Barcelona, maybe you can send a trusted friend over to do the visit on your behalf.

Do a background check. If you are in doubt about a specific property, check out the real estate agency! Do they have any online presence? See how many positive google reviews they have. Search if they are actually registered as a business.

If something smells fishy, move on. It’s not worth to loose your hard earned money to a scammer. So if something doesn’t feel right, just forget about that specific apartment. Move on, there are always more fish in the sea.

Post of interest: Rental Price Index for Barcelona Apartments Explained!

how to rent an apartment in Barcelona, avoid scams

10

Once the rental period is over

When you’re getting ready to leave your apartment, here are some steps you might want to follow. It’s a good way to avoid misunderstandings and headaches. 

Notice: The normal notice period in Spain is two months. But this may vary from contract to contract. Check yours and make sure to send the notice, that you’ll be terminating the rental contract, in written.

Getting the flat ready: You’ll have to return the apartment in the conditions you received it. This normally includes painting the flat (long term rentals), plastering over any holes in the walls, and fixing anything that is broken. Also, a deep clean is a must before leaving the property.

Having them sign an acceptance document: Once the flat is ready, somebody from the real estate agency or the landlord will come over to inspect it. Once you’ve agreed that everything is in order, have them sign a document accepting that you’re returning the apartment in proper conditions. This way you’ll avoid any future discussions about the subject, and secure the full return of your deposit.

Deposit: The real estate agency originally sent your deposit to Incasol (government agency in charge of securing deposits). They can take up to 30 days to send back your deposit, so be patient. After 30 days dough, if you haven’t received anything, start pressuring the real estate agency.

 

how to rent an apartment in Barcelona, after the rental period

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