YEAR 2017 N.º 3

ISSN 2182-9845

Spanish law of residential leases: Historical developments and current regulation and trends

Rosa Maria Garcia Teruel


tenancy law; housing; rental market; tenures; stability; affordability; flexibility.


The housing rental market in Spain has been regulated for decades through special rules on urban leases. This special regulation is aimed to protect tenants, who are considered the weak part of the contract, while the general provisions for leases in the Spanish Civil Code are only subsidiarily applicable.  The purpose of this article is to provide a broad view of the Spanish legal framework for tenancies, taking into account the historical development of special rules on urban leases, including rights and obligation of the parties and mandatory provisions for this kind of contract. Since 2013, the liberalization of this regime is jeopardizing tenants’ stability, affordability and flexibility, which had lead to a proposal for new rules in Catalonia.

Table of contents

1. Historical development of Law on urban leases in Spain
1.1. The need for special rules on urban leases
1.2. Former Act 1964
1.3. RDL 2/1985
1.4. Act 29/1994
1.5. Latest amendments of Act 29/1994 in 2013 and 2015
2. Main features of current Act 29/1994, on urban leases (LAU), amended through Act 4/2013
2.1. Scope of application
2.2. Mandatory provisions
2.3. Duration of the contract
2.3.1. Mandatory duration
2.3.2. Right to terminate the contract for the landlord’s need for housing
2.3.3. Ordinary notice of the tenant
2.4. The rent
2.4.1. General features
2.4.2. Repairs in lieu of rent
2.4.3. Rent update
2.5. Works in the rented dwelling
2.6. Termination of the contract
2.6.1. Due to a breach of the contract
2.6.2. Due to the sale of the property or any other loss of the landlord’s right over the property
2.7. Deposit
3. New principles on urban leases in Catalonia 2017
4. Conclusions
Case Law