Rent in Spain: Can Landlords Legally Charge Tenants Agency Fees?

Question

Rent in Spain: Can Landlords Legally Charge Tenants Agency Fees?

“Just spoke to an estate agent – ‘oh we need 1 month rent, 2 months deposit and 1 month agency fee’.

  • uhm, isn’t the landlord paying for the agency fee? Isn’t it illegal to ask me?
  • ‘oh we get both the tenant and landlord pay’
  • I see. Can I get an invoice?
  • ‘she hung up’…ffs”

Answers

These are the answers of Spainguru’s Facebook group members:

“We had the same. They can get around it by offering no more than an 11-month contract. That way you are responsible for the agent’s fee. A lot of the landlords are increasing the rent significantly to cover the agent’s fee so we, as tenants, are no better off.”

“An agent from idealista sent me this just 2 weeks ago. I’m not a lawyer, I don’t know the law but I’ve not found one property where the landlord will pay the fee regretfully.”

“Agents are asking fees to tenants because ‘landlords’ don’t pay it, it’s like: If you like the house you pay the fees, otherwise go around and look for something else, you’ll find everyone asking for the fees.”

“Told by one agent that the law does not apply to landlords who agreed before the law change, I asked to see other homes that did not have any agency fees and they said none of them.”

“The agent for our rental home did not charge us an agent’s fee, they charged the owner, as is the law. Not all are bad but sadly many are.”

“The current law states that the landlord should pay the agency fees, but high demand and low supply have led many agents to charge tenants instead. This is technically illegal, but common due to market conditions.”

“Others ask for 2 years or 1 year in advance. A corrupt world. Not only here. I just feel sorry for many of the locals who can’t pay those incredible insane high rentals.”

“In June last year, we paid and did get an invoice. I didn’t know it was illegal then. Do I have any recourse? What should I do?”

“You are correct. Realtors here do as they please. For long-term rental, the landlord should pay their fee. The problem is that there’s very high demand and little offer, so they have plenty of options.

If you won’t pay the fee, they will find someone who will, even though it’s against the current tenancy law, and the landlord will go with it or sometimes not even know that his realtor just rejected you.”

Conclusion

While Spanish law typically requires landlords to pay agency fees, the reality on the ground differs due to high demand and limited supply. Many agents and landlords circumvent this law by charging tenants directly, especially when offering shorter leases or in high-demand areas. This practice, while widespread, is technically illegal, and tenants often find themselves without recourse in a highly competitive market.

In Spain, the law regarding who pays the real estate agency fees for rental agreements can vary by autonomous community, but generally, the national regulation tends to favor the tenant.

As of the most recent updates, particularly under the Spanish Urban Rental Act (Ley de Arrendamientos Urbanos, LAU), the party that enlists the services of the agent (typically the landlord) is responsible for paying the agency fees. This was further emphasized with reforms aimed at protecting tenants from excessive fees and costs.

A significant update was made in March 2019, which included reforms to the LAU to provide better protection for tenants, stating that if the rental transaction is initiated by the property owner, the owner should bear the agency costs. This update aimed to prevent tenants from being unfairly burdened with fees that could make housing less affordable.

However, due to high demand and low supply in popular areas, such as large cities and tourist-favored regions, it’s not uncommon for real estate agents and landlords to shift this cost onto the tenants despite the legal expectations.

This practice, while widespread, clashes with the legal framework intended to protect tenants, leading to a situation where many tenants may not be aware of their rights or may feel pressured to accept these terms due to market conditions.