Many owners and tenants have started the year with a lump in their throats. To the usual concerns that any rent entails, new fears are now being added about the regulations and measures adopted due to the pandemic and, above all, because of the bad economic situation that many families are experiencing.
The biggest uneasiness of the owners are the delays and the non-payment of the rent. “It is the landlord’s greatest concern, all the more so with the eviction suspension measures for tenants in vulnerable situations,” says Tomás Felipe de Pedraza, Legalitas lawyer. In many cases, they will have no choice but to accept a rent reduction or deferred payment proposed by the tenant, says Sara Arranz, commercial director of Treshabitat, a real estate company of the Tecnotramit group.
If an agreement is not reached, the owners are concerned about whether they will be able to evict their tenant. Si acredita encontrarse en situación de vulnerabilidad económica la respuesta es negativa.
If an agreement is not reached, the owners are concerned about whether they will be able to evict their tenant. If you can prove yourself in a situation of economic vulnerability, the answer is negative.
“The tenant may request the suspension of the process until, for now, May 9, 2021 (end of the current state of alarm) if he proves to be in a situation of vulnerability and has no alternative housing, which will be more than frequent given current situation, ”explains Eduardo Fígares, a lawyer at the Lawyers for All law firm.
If there is no situation of vulnerability, the landlord can take legal action. Although it is better to arm yourself with patience, because “the situation of a certain collapse that many courts are going through by covid can take a long time to return possession of the apartment to the owner and, most likely, it is very difficult to collect the rent owed ”, Indicates Salvador Salcedo, Lawyer from the Ático Jurídico office.
The process will last between 6 and 12 months due to delays in the judicial system due to the covid, adds Fígares.
Homeowners looking to lease their homes at this time are pursuing solvency. “Some landlords seek a stable economic profile to reduce the risks of non-payment of rent as a result of a layoff or an ERTE of the tenant,” says Salcedo.
And, just in case, they are shielded with non-payment insurance, which covers 6 to 12 monthly rent and legal defense. Other options that landlords are turning to are bank guarantees and personal guarantors, according to De Pedraza.
The problem is that on some occasions — fortunately, it is not something general in the market — the owners overindulge, especially when it comes to people with very low payrolls. In Provivienda they denounce that some demand “bank guarantees, four monthly payments in cash [prohibited by the LAU] and that several people sign the contract to respond to defaults.
We are talking about immigrants and people who do not earn more than 800 euros per month ”, explains Natalia Palomar, head of the Provivienda Legal Incidence Area. They agree at CECU Madrid that, on occasions, “disproportionate endorsements or guarantees are required for operations of a certain simplicity or not particularly high income,” explains spokesperson Itziar Marín.
Legally, the landlord can only demand two monthly rent payments as an additional guarantee, in addition to the monthly payment corresponding to the legal guarantee.
However, it considers that these amounts are insufficient to cover possible defaults and damages, especially if the apartment is rented furnished. “More and more tenants are leaving their homes in poor condition and landlords have to face the reform and, in many cases, the payment of pending supplies,” says Arranz.
The government’s intention to limit the maximum rental price in the coming months is generating concern. “The majority are small savers who invested in housing and need to make it profitable to meet the loan payments they requested to buy it,” argues Salcedo.
Those who are considering selling their home for this reason, should take into account that contracts or extensions that end before January 31, 2021 may enjoy, if requested by the tenant, an extraordinary extension of a maximum of six months.
“It can be a problem for landlords who were thinking of selling their home before prices start to drop,” says Pelayo de Salvador Morell, from the real estate law firm Desalvador.
Subleasing is another penance for landlords. It is legal “as long as there is approval from the property owner and the tenant makes a contract for each of the subleased persons,” explains Esperanza Palacio, legal co-director of Reclamador.es .
Not being able to pay rent also makes tenants sleepless. “It is the main headache, since the economic situation is exponentially increasing the number of households that find it very difficult or impossible to reach the end of the month,” they point out in OCU.
Therefore, they are very attentive to the reductions in the price of rents: Madrid, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Seville and Malaga have registered historical drops in 2020, according to Idealista.
They will have to take account if they consider leaving the current apartment and looking for a cheaper one. “They can leave the property after the first six months of the contract without having to compensate or, if it is included in the contract, indemnifying the landlord with one month’s rent for each year remaining in the contract (or the proportional part if there is less than one year, which is the most frequent) ”, explains Fígares.
Be careful when searching, because in the market there are false seasonal leases that, in reality, hide habitual residence rentals. The owners force them to sign 11-month contracts to circumvent the Urban Leasing Law (LAU) .
Repairs and reforms are the ordeal of every tenant, but also of every owner. The latter, especially those with a worse economic situation due to the pandemic, are ceasing to repair and maintain their homes, something to which the LAU forces them.
“There are many rented houses in a very deplorable state of repair and tenants have to take care of maintenance or be forced to change their dwelling,” says Sara Arranz, from Treshabitat.
That the landlord wants to sell the house is another headache, although “the new owner must maintain the contract in the same conditions,” adds Arranz. What if he dies? “If the deceased landlord acted as the owner, the terms set in the contract are upheld. If he was the usufructuary of the house, it will be the new owners who decide whether the tenant’s contract is terminated, remains in its terms or new ones are set, ”says Palacio.
Shared rental is a problem in times of covid. There is fear among tenants to rent when an empty room is left. “A possible solution would be to require the potential tenant to have a serological test or a PCR test,” says the lawyer from Ático Jurídico.
Uncertainty also generates not knowing if the landlord is going to return the deposit, since many times he invents damages in the house. “The only way for the tenant to defend their rights is to go to court to claim the bail, but it is expensive and many times it is not worth the effort,” concludes Eduardo Fígares.
In CECU Madrid they report the “delay or non-return of the deposit at the end of the rental, without legally justified reasons”, says Marín.