In this article we will deal with a common problem in any rental agreement, usually leading to disputes, disagreements and complaints between the Property Owner and the Tenant.
Spanish legislation, in particular the regulations in force pursuant to Article 21 of Urban Lease Law (LAU), establish the limits and responsibilities between the Landlord and the Tenant, under the following two provisions:
Article 21.1 (LAU), regulates the repairs that the Landlord is liable for, it establishes that “the Landlord shall be responsible for carrying out, without the right to raise the rental price, all necessary repairs to maintain the property fit for use for the agreed purpose”, at the same time the article establishes that if the property becomes unfit for use due to any action taken by the Tenant, he or she shall be held responsible. Therefore, the burden shall lie on the Tenant to prove that the loss or damage has occurred by no fault of their own.
Article 21.4 (LAU), expressly states which repairs the Tenant shall be liable for; “Minor repairs due to daily wear and tear on the property, shall be payable by the Tenant”.
Due to the aforementioned provision being key to this Article, any dispute subject to it shall be resolved by defining repairs as “minor”. The legislation itself does not define a clear interpretation of this definition. The courts however have followed a line of reasoning in their case law which establishes that a repair shall be considered “minor” if its cost is inferior to approximately 150€.
Therefore, we can conclude that that any repairs or damages caused by abnormal use (non routine or non-standard daily use) shall be payable by the Tenant.
Regarding repairs or damage caused by normal daily use, liability for payment is divided into two main categories. On one hand, any repairs that are “significant” (as mentioned above, with a cost exceeding 150€) shall be payable by the Landlord, on the other hand, any repairs that are considered “minor” (with a cost not exceeding 150€) shall be payable by the Tenant.
In view of the above, these issues become subject to evidence, meaning it shall be necessary to prove whether the repairs or damages are caused by normal daily use or abnormal use, or, whether the cause is natural deterioration due the item in question having reached the end of its lifecycle or warranty.
If you are the owner of a property and you wish to safeguard a solution to these kind of incidents (which will most certainly arise during the term of any rental contract), one option is to include a clause in the rental contract expressly stating that repairs considered to be “minor” are those that do not exceed a cost of 150€, and therefore shall be remedied by the Tenant. As we mentioned previously, this is an approximate amount established by case law, therefore obtaining tenant’s the written acknowledgment of this valuation would prevent any possible conflict on liability.
At MSG LEGAL we remain entirely at your disposal to provide you with expert preventative advise when formalising a rental contract, to protect your interests in the most secure and comprehensive manner possible, whether from the point of view of a Property Owner or Landlord, or from that of a Tenant, providing you with advice and assistance throughout any Real Estate Leasing conflict, whether in or our out of court.
Please note the information provided in this article is of general interest only and is not to be construed or intended as substitute for professional legal advice.