How long to return a rental deposit?

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IMMEDIATE RETURN: A landlord should return his tenant’s deposit as soon as the keys are handed back. CREDIT: Pixabay


YOU’RE renting a property, your contract is coming to an end and you’ve decided not to renew and move on to another location. How long does your landlord have to return the deposit you paid on moving in?

Many people are mistakenly under the impression that the deposit paid when moving into rented accommodation must be returned to the tenant within 30 days after moving out.

This is not the case and is not stated thus in any Spanish law, including the relevant LAU regulation (Law for Urban Rentals).

In reality, the money paid out as a deposit should be given back to the tenant as soon as the rental contract ends.

Asking for and paying the deposit to rent a property in Spain are minimum legal requirements for both landlord and tenant.

In most cases these days, however, the landlord will now also request additional guarantees such as a month’s rent up front or a guarantee from the bank or a family member.

One practice that is quite common is actually not allowed and consists of deciding not to pay the last month’s rent instead of waiting for the landlord to return the deposit.

Similarly, the landlord is not permitted to retain the deposit without justifiable cause or use the money to clean the property or paint it after the tenant has vacated it.

In this case, the landlord must detail the necessary payments that he is owed, which the tenant must agree with.

If money is left over from the deposit after these payments have been taken into consideration, the remaining amount must be paid back to the tenant immediately.

In the same instance, if the bill is more than what was paid out in the deposit, it is the tenant that has to pay the extra without delay.

The reason for the confusion over how long the landlord has to return the deposit is because the 36.4 article of the LAU law says that if it is not paid back to the tenant within 30 days, interest will legally be applied. It doesn’t actually say that the landlord has 30 days to pay it, just that if it isn’t returned, interest will be accrued from 30 days.

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