Renting a home in Barcelona

The lure to live in Barcelona is as strong as ever, not simply because of its obvious lifestyle benefits but thanks also to its growing reputation as a major hub for tech industries and innovative start-ups. We take a look at the rental scene as it tries to meet demand from growing numbers of entrepreneurs choosing to settle in the Catalan capital.

For many years Barcelona has boasted a quality of life arguably unrivalled elsewhere in the world. Its beautiful beaches, temperate climate, vibrant local  culture and reputation as a growing business hub has been attracting increasing numbers of foreigners since the Olympics were held there in 1992. In the first quarter of 2018 Catalonia’s economy grew by 3.4% (Idescat), 0.4% more than Spain as a whole thanks to record exports and a burgeoning fintech and start-up scene.

Barcelona has also consolidating itself as a reference capital for big technological multinationals  in recent years. Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Nestlé and Siemens all have a base in the city.

Every year the Catalan capital brings in increasing numbers of tourists and with a new airport terminal planned for 2026, arrivals are expected to exceed 70 million annual passengers within a decade.

For those new to the city the continued low interest rates mean that more homes are being rented out, making it possible to live in the heart of Barcelona at an affordable price compared to many other European cities.

Rents in the city centre start at around €1,000 per month for a one-bedroom apartment. These are typically for small apartments. Many foreigners, particularly from the north of Europe, often take advantage of the lower prices in Barcelona to either rent a larger or better quality property than they would do in their home town or city.

Where are the most sought-after locations to rent in Barcelona?

Compared to the likes of London, Berlin or Paris, Barcelona has relatively low rental prices. Figures from leading property portal Idealista show that at the end of the first quarter of 2018 the average rental price across the city actually fell by 2.7% to €17.6 per square metre. Indeed most rental averages in ‘prime’ areas have come down in the last 12 months – in Eixample by 2.4% to €18.5 per square metre, in Gràcia by 5.2% to €16.3 per square metre, in Barcelona Old Town by 6.7% to €19.2 per square metre and in the popular residential area of Les Corts by 1.6% to €15.8 per square metre. So for those coming from Northern Europe, rents in the city are relatively affordable and offer the chance to be in the heart of the action, something which is not always possible when buying a home.

Short and long-term renting in Barcelona

There is currently a moratorium on issuing licences for short-term rentals in Barcelona city in order to keep a lid on fast-growing tourist numbers. However, landlords with existing rental licences (for three months or less) can still offer holiday lets, but these are few and far between.

No licence is required for long-term lets (six months or more). A standard long-term rental lease is normally for one year. The tenant automatically has the right to renew each year for up to five more years and can only be evicted or given notice to leave in very specific circumstances. The obvious disadvantage is that if you want to leave before the end of a contract, you may have to pay to the end of the twelve-month period.

For long-term rents a deposit of one or two months’ rent is normally required.

Spanish rental laws

Spanish property law works in favour of the tenant. A fairly complex system of rules means that is is hard for a landlord to evict a sitting tenant even if the property is being sold. As a result, contracts are normally fixed for a specific term and at the end of each term, the contract can be renegotiated. The minimum term is currently six months. Prior to signing a contract a landlord will want to establish your financial and employment  situation and/or ask for a bank guarantee (aval). Rolling contracts – where a tenant can give one or two months’ notice – were established in 2013, but are rare.

House or apartment?

As with any major city, Barcelona is comprised mainly of apartment blocks, situated in either period or new buildings. Most buildings were constructed in the 19th Century and retain their charm but in some cases also their original plumbing and wiring, so it is worth looking into this. New builds tend to be more in demand because of their modern features.

In areas such as Sant Gervasi and Pedralbes you can find family homes close to international schools, parks and sports clubs. Houses in Maresme and Badalona to the north of Barcelona and Castelldefels, Gavà Mar and Sitges to the south are generally more affordable than houses in the city centre and may also have a swimming pool and a garden and are located close to the beach. If you are used to living in a big city, the half hour commute by car or train from these popular surrounding areas is fairly manageable.

Furnished and unfurnished properties

Long-term lets at Lucas Fox are normally furnished. There are no official standards for what constitutes a furnished or an unfurnished property, so it needs to be clear from the outset what is included in the rental contract. Furnished family homes are the most expensive and you can expect to pay a premium. In most cases for lets of a year or more, renting an unfurnished home works out cheaper and normally families looking to rent in the Zona Alta prefer to rent unfurnished properties.

Utility bills

Utilities in Barcelona can vary from €100 a month for a centrally located two-bedroom apartment, but this can vary depending on the building’s infrastructure and type of systems in place. All long-term contracts have to include an energy efficiency certificate, which you should consult before you sign any paperwork. The certificates provide objective information on the characteristics of the existing building and allows you to compare them with other different buildings. For a rental or lease a photocopy of the current certificate must accompany the leasing documentation. There may also be maintenance fees, local taxes and rubbish collection fees on top, so always check before you sign.

Why use Lucas Fox?

Looking for a home to rent in Barcelona can sometimes be a challenging experience if you are unfamiliar with different districts and unable to speak Spanish or Catalan. Many local agents work solely on behalf of the landlord and simply expect to show potential lessees a property and then process the paperwork. At Lucas Fox we do almost all the legwork as we understand the requirements and cultural differences of foreign rental clients. Our agents are multilingual and not only speak Spanish and/or Catalan but up to 15 other languages besides, including English, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, French, Italian, German and Swedish. Our website is also translated into these languages making your rental search as straightforward as possible. If needs be, we can also act as your ‘search agent’ ensuring that we find exactly what you are looking for in your ideal location. We will also help with contracts, deposits and any legal issues and, if you are new to the city, we can give you advice on anything from job searches, establishing utility bills and setting up a bank account to day trips and where to find the city’s most exciting restaurants.

For owners looking to rent out their properties, Lucas Fox offers a Property Management Service which offers a range of bespoke packages to suit every requirement.

Take a look at our properties to rent in Barcelona.

Lucas Fox Spanish Real Estate Market Analysis Q1 & Q2 2018

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