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My landlord does not give me back the bail: how and when to complain

Journalist Maria and her two roommates did not come out as they thought. His guilt was to be naive . It was late 2006 when these three students recently landed in Madrid decided to share an apartment in the neighborhood of Chamberí. The housing bubble had not yet exploded and rental prices were in the dark: at that time, the monthly amount exceeded nine euros per square meter – far from the seven of last year – according to data prepared by Fotocasa . At the end of the academic year, and with the lease agreement, the girls left the apartment as they had been handed over. But when they returned the keys, the owner refused to refund the entire deposit. The reason? “The floor is very dirty”.

Was the owner entitled to withhold part of the bond? What is the use of that money? What does the law say? There are many doubts about this, as confirmed by the End of lease cleaning Melbourne : 22% of the questions that feed your forum revolves around this topic. “The first thing that comes to mind when a tenant is leaving the apartment is how to recover their bail,” they say.

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Although the majority of the Spaniards choose to own , the rent is timidly gaining popularity. By 2014, 14.9% of homes were under lease, according to the Bank of Spain ; A slight decrease compared to the previous year – when they captured 15.4% of the stock – but a great improvement compared to 2001, when only 9.6% of the real estate was rented. If you look at the data of the Community Statistical Office (Eurostat) – which considers all real estate, and not only those registered as a standard residence – the percentage is even higher: 21.2%.

Carlos Ruiz, manager of Arrenta (Association for the Promotion of Rental and Access to Housing) , assures that landlords usually reinstate the bond “once the condition of the property has been checked and as long as there are no outstanding amounts” to be paid. But “some owners are shielded, not to return it entirely, in which there is some flaw.” What to do in these cases?

What is the bond for?

The deposit  is an amount of money that the tenant must deliver to the owner, obligatorily, as a guarantee in case of breach of contract. S u amount, according to the law, is a monthly rent – two if the use of the property is different from the one of housing -, but it is not surprising if the landlord asks for additional guarantees, such as  deposits or bank guarantees. The legislation contemplates this possibility and leaves it at the discretion of the parties.

What is not discretionary is the “destination” of the bond: when the landlord receives it, you can not put it in your pocket and do with it whatever you want. Although it is no longer mandatory to register the lease – since 2013, with the reform of the Law on Urban Leases (LAU) -, the deposit must be deposited in the Autonomous Community body authorized for this purpose – for example, the IVIMA in Madrid-. “If not done, the first default is the owner,” says David Caraballo, commercial director of Rental Insurance .

In what cases can the landlord keep the deposit?

The law provides that the landlord can stay with the bond when the tenant fails to comply with the obligations that derive from the lease. But what does it mean? Caraballo sums it up in three big blocks: if it causes damage to the house, goes ahead of time without the notices or deadlines stipulated in the contract or is not up to date with the payment of rent or supplies, the landlord can use the Bond – or part of it – to fix the floor and cover the expenses that the tenant has left pending. But there are always nuances, especially when it comes to subjective issues. For example,  what criteria should be used to decide whether a floor is clean or not?

In the case of damages, it is necessary to distinguish between misuse and wear

The general rule is that the tenant must return the floor as it was given, which is sometimes difficult to prove. Especially in the case of defects – both in the fixed elements (tiles, walls, windows) and in the contents (appliances, furniture) – Caraballo recalls that “it is fundamental to distinguish between misuse and wear.” “A classic example is painting: it is normal that, after four or five years, a floor does not look the same.” In this case, he explains, it is the owner who must fix it.

The tenant, for its part, is responsible for damages caused by negligence or misuse of the home. “It could be the damage on a wall by trying to place a shelf”, exemplify from enalquiler.com. If you do not repair it, the owner can use the bail money to fix it. “But we always have to demand the official invoices that justify in what and for what the money has been used. And from there decide whether the landlord is right or not, “they alert from the real estate portal.

Also with regard to the early termination of the contract you must go with feet of lead. With the LAU reform , the tenant can leave after six months without being penalized, whenever he notifies at least 30 days in advance. But look at the fine print: the landlord can demand compensation if the contract so provides. The amount of the compensation is fixed by law, and corresponds to one monthly payment for each remaining year. This means that, if the period is less than 12 months, the landlord can only keep the proportional part of the bond. To make an example: if the contract is one year and the bond is 600 euros, the tenant who goes to eight months would be deducted only 200 euros.

If you have fulfilled and do not return the money, you complain

If the landlord uses fictitious excuses to not return bail and refuses to sit down to talk about the issue, do not abandon it. In these cases it is advisable to warn you, through a reliable means – like a burofax – that if you do not return the money in a certain time – for example, a week – legal actions will be initiated. Although the  law does not set a deadline for the landlord to return the money , it does establish  that, starting 30 days after the end of the contract, the legal interest will accrue, which may be required in case of a later claim.

Taking a photographic inventory with a digitized date represents an additional guarantee

If the owner still does not want to reach an agreement, there is always the legal way. Do not be afraid of the courts: if the amount is less than 2,000 euros – most bail bonds do not exceed this amount – no lawyer or solicitor is needed. You simply have to go to the courts of first instance with te lease and all documentation that proves that there is a pending debt and file a claim for claim amount.

Most experts advise choosing the “monitoring process”, a simplified procedure that grants an enforceable title if there is no opposition. “It’s like a judicial burofax, ” summarizes Ruiz de Arrenta. “It is a requirement that the court sends directly to the defendant to pay the amount that is being claimed or oppose” within a maximum period of 10 days. If it does not – and does not return the money – execution starts automatically. “The only thing to see is if you have enough money to pay,” concludes Caraballo.


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