Rental Contracts Will Be Governed by the Urban Rental Act Again From 23 January 2019

22 January 2019 – El Confidencial

Rental contracts that are signed from tomorrow will again have a duration of three years, regardless of whether the landlord is a physical person or a legal entity. Also, landlords may require future tenants to provide more than one month’s deposit, as well as any additional guarantees that they consider appropriate, either in cash or as a bank guarantee.

Royal Decree-Law 21/2018, dated 14 December, governing Urgent Measures in terms of Housing and Rents, published in the BOE on 18 December, has had a very short life, given that it has not been ratified by Congress today, in such a way that all of the rental contracts that are signed from tomorrow onwards will be governed once again by the Urban Rental Act (LAU) approved in 2013. The result of the vote was 103 votes in favour versus 243 votes against, plus one abstention.

In the way, the Government has today suffered its first major defeat in Congress, after the majority of representatives voted no to the law on rental, which was only supported by the PNV and PDeCAT in the end. The decree was completely rejected by Unidos Podemos, which was not happy that the Executive had ignored its main demand to move forward with the budgets: to limit rental prices in those markets with greatest tensions and highest prices. PP, Ciudadanos and ERC joined the Purple Party in their rejection of the decree (…).

All of this means that for practical purposes, the rental market will once again be governed in accordance with the legislation set out in the LAU of 2013, whilst all of those contracts that were signed following the approval of the royal decree in the BOE to date will continue in force in accordance with the provisions thereof.

Three-year contracts and larger deposits

The parties may negotiate freely regarding the duration of contracts, nevertheless, the obligatory extension of those contracts shall be three years. In other words, although a landlord and tenant sign a one-year contract, the tenant will have the right to extend that contract for a total of three years. The tacit extension, in other words, after those three years, and provided the parties are in agreement, shall be one year.

“The landlord can demand whatever deposit he wants for the rental of a home; the decree law limited that figure to two months. In this way, the owners of flats will be able to continue to ask for bank guarantees or bank deposits, as well as a normal deposit”, explained Francisco Javier Fajardo Fernández, Professor of Civil Law at the University of Navarra (…).

Regarding those parties who have signed a rental contract in the last 35 days, he indicates that “it would be normal for citizens to sign rental contracts for a year, but those that have signed contracts in the last 35 days could be subject to a mandatory extension of up to five years. The law would cover them, although it is possible that some landlords will want to modify their contracts to apply the current law (…).

“Contracts signed between 18 December and 22 January shall be subject to a special regime with respect to the contracts signed from tomorrow onwards (…)”, said the Professor from the University of Navarra.

The return of the law from 2013 also means that landlords will be able to recover their property to use it as a permanent home in certain cases after the first year of the contract term (…).

Rental updates

On the other hand, regarding updates to rental prices, another controversial topic, according to the royal decree, if the contract does not explicitly specify that the rent will increase each year, then there shall be no rent increase. By contrast, under the law from 2013, even though the contract does not specify it, rental prices are updated each year in line with CPI – the typical rate used – or the index specified – and, if there is no mention of any index, the consumer guarantee index (IGC), approved by the Disindexation Law of 2015 (…).

Original story: El Confidencial (by E. Sanz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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