The dilemma of renters and home improvements


When it comes to renting, a lot of confusion can arise between landlords and tenants when something is broken or damaged. This topic is widely discussed and generally boils down to an easy answer: the landlord must pay for all reparations that are necessary to keep the house in a decent condition.

However, what is considered decent or not can also come into question. Some tenants or property owners might consider certain improvement works or updates to be necessary, which can often be the source of conflict. The difference is that these improvements are not strictly essential to guarantee the habitability of the house, more so they are carried out to enhance the residence.

In Spain, according to article 22.1 on rental leases, the landlord is entitled to do home improvements, even if there is a tenant living in the residence. Provided, of course, that the job cannot be reasonably delayed until the conclusion of the lease. To go ahead, the landlord must notify the renters at least three months in advance.

In a situation like this, the law allows the tenant to renounce the contract, unless the work doesn’t affect the leased housing. If you keep the contract, article 22.3 states that tenants have the right to a deduction of the rent in proportion to the part of the residence that is under renovation and as compensation.

On the other hand, any improvements to the house also give the landlord the right to raise the rent price up to 20 per cent after five years of contract.

Another frequent question is what the tenant can and cannot do. Any work that will modify the configuration of the home or the furniture, needs to have the written consent of the landlord to go ahead.

If the tenant does not respect these established clauses, the landlord may terminate the contract. Renters may also be required to return the residence to its previous state, without being to claim any compensation for the cost. If any of the renters are disabled or over 70, they will be able to carry out changes, but must notify the landlord and restore the residence to its original state if needed.

Camila O'Reilly

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