Long-term rental case in Spain: When the tenant leaves but the partner does not

A tenant sent a burofax to the landlord communicating his decision not to renew the contract at the end of the year. The tenant proposed that his ex-partner, with whom he has a child in common, should occupy the property. The landlord sent a letter to the tenant's partner informing him of the tenant's decision to terminate the lease and giving him 15 days to indicate whether he wished to continue. The letter could not be delivered personally, but was deemed to have been received as it was not collected at the post office within the time limit.

The Court found that, following the tenant's resignation, his ex-partner's right of subrogation to the lease arose. However, the lease was terminated because the former partner did not exercise this right. 

If the person entitled to subrogation does not exercise this right, the lease is deemed to be terminated.


Crime of coercion

Given the slowness of the courts in eviction cases, some landlords are tempted to change the locks or cut off utilities in order to recover their property. But this action not only constitutes a crime of coercion, but is also futile, as the courts would restore possession to the tenant. Resorting to force would only lead the landlord to face the very eviction proceedings he was trying to avoid, wasting time in the process.

" The best defence against defaults is prevention, advising landlords to study the solvency and circumstances of prospective tenants before signing a lease. "


When must the security deposit be returned at the end of a rental contract?

The law does not establish a specific time limit, but indicates that, after one month from the handing over of the keys, if the deposit is not returned, interest will start to accrue. There are two judicial interpretations: the majority considers that the landlord has one month to return the deposit, while a minority holds that it must be returned at the end of the contract, and after one month, the landlord is in default. 

In short, the landlord has a maximum of one month to carry out checks, claim damages and return the security deposit, and it is advisable to indicate this in the key handover document to avoid early claims by the tenant. After this period, the deposit will accrue interest.


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