Leaving a Rental Contract Early in Madrid

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07 Jun 2011 12:00 AM by frausy12 Star rating. 5 posts Send private message



I am a student on my Erasmus year that foolishly accepted and signed a 1 year rental contract with the promise that my deposit would be returned as soon as I had found somebody to replace me in the contract. However, my stay in Spain is coming to an end this month and as such i would be leaving the rental contract early. As uch as I have tried to find a new tenant my efforts are proving fruitless. I have asked the landlord if he is willing to accept my 2 months deposit as the final months payment but he will not accept this. I am unwilling to pay him this months rent as it would leave me a months rent out of pocket, plus the 2 months deposit that he already has. In terms of my details that only things that he has are my name and my passport number. What are my options? and what would be the repercusions of just leaving the country with paying this months rent?


I have spoken to several people and the responses are mixed. My boss seems to believe that the landlord will be able to do nothing about it if I just leave as going to court would not be a cost effective option for him, and would be a long process.


I must affirm that I am not attempting to leave without paying, as I believe that he has already gained from this situation.


Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.



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08 Jun 2011 2:01 AM by campana Star rating in Marbella. 474 posts Send private message

campana´s avatar

I trust that Maria may be able to provide you with a reply/advice.  I believe a tenancy agreement should contain a clause whereby you or the landlord can give notice terminating the tenancy. 

Meantime perhaps it would be a good idea to consult a lawyer there where you are.



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08 Jun 2011 7:41 AM by Piltonian Star rating in Madrid. 36 posts Send private message


It is standard, as you have found, that you cannot give notice within the first year of a rental - rentals based on shorter timescales are normally made at much higher charges.

From the landlord's point of view, he may be considering that your deposit was intended to protect him against damage to the flat rather than failure to pay rent - that could be why he is reluctant to take your deposit as set off.

Given that money will clearly be tight for you as a student, I suspect your plan may be the most practical option. You seem to want also to do right by the landlord, the one additional thing I'd suggest is that you frankly look at the flat and consider if there has been any damage during your stay, if so, it would be right to make him an additional payment to compensate him for that or, better still, fix it yourself before you leave.

If you leave the flat in good condition, thoroughly cleaned, and with the deposit to cover the rent, he may also be less likely to kick up a fuss.

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08 Jun 2011 10:59 AM by sneezey Star rating. 64 posts Send private message

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Nic If you go to the Legal section on this notice board at the top of the first page there is a box for free questions to a Lawyer Why don't you try that? It doesn't cost anything.

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08 Jun 2011 11:57 AM by frausy12 Star rating. 5 posts Send private message

Thank you for your prompt responses. I have contacted a few lawyers by phone and they cannot give advice as they do not know the stipulations of the contract. Essentially all I am wanting to know what he can do with my name and passport number, and if he is likely to kick up a fuss over 300 euros when he already has 600 (2 months) deposit.

I have also e-mailed Maria and I am awaiting response.
Aplogies for sounding so desperate but I do not think that the situation is fair (even though it was my fault for signing the contract) but i cannot afford to throw money away.
@Sneezey. I seem to be blind in my desperation and cannot locate the box to post a free question to a lawyer. Would you be so kind as to post the link.

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08 Jun 2011 12:25 PM by jek Star rating. 249 posts Send private message

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You haven't said how many of the 12 months you have paid and how many are left.  Advice does depend on that.

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08 Jun 2011 3:28 PM by frausy12 Star rating. 5 posts Send private message

The contract started on the 1st of March. The landlord knew from the start that I was going to leave in June but I was too naive to get a clause written into the contract.

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08 Jun 2011 5:50 PM by jek Star rating. 249 posts Send private message

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Nic, I don't know how big your apartment is or where it is located but you try finding a holiday let anywhere in Spain for €70 a week in April, May and June - which is what you are paying.  Not a chance.  You are mixing medium and high season tariffs.  The whole point of a twelve month let to a landlord and to a tenant is that you don't pay high season rates but the rent is evened out over the year.  So I doubt very much that the landlord was aware that you wanted to quit in June.  You certainly wouldn't have been on €300 a month if he had understood.

So if you want to be totally legal, you have to pay €3,600 for the twelve months plus any repairs etc.  On the other hand if you just up and leave the chances of the landlord taking you to court are zero.  He may well get a summer let - high peak is July and August in Spain - and it would be too expensive and too slow, especially if you had left Spain.

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08 Jun 2011 6:21 PM by frausy12 Star rating. 5 posts Send private message

Ok to put it into more context, the apartment is 25m squared give or take. My room has such a low ceiling that I cannot stand up completely, and has no door just a curtain. As foolish as I was to take it in the first place desperation does crazy things to you.

He was 100% made aware of the circumstances surrounding my stay here. To be perfectly honest I think that 300 euros a month plus bills is high for what I´m getting. Having said this I understand that any flat in the centre of Madrid will fetch a modest income.

I have been trying tirelessly for a month to find somebody to take my place so that I won´t lose money. It seems impossible to find somebody as desperate as I was.

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08 Jun 2011 7:14 PM by campana Star rating in Marbella. 474 posts Send private message

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Well, Frausy, look at it this way.  You live and learn.  IMO you were taken to the cleaners if the apartment is as you describe it.  In all likelihood the landlord may be in breach of health and safety rules for letting a place like that.

You might wish to show the agreement to someone at the centre where you are studying under the Erasmus scheme.  Surely they have an office or student assistance office?




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08 Jun 2011 11:41 PM by jek Star rating. 249 posts Send private message

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It's not clear whether Nic rents an apartment or rents a room in an apartment with shared bathroom, kitchen and lounge.  And depending where the apartment is located in Madrid, €300 a month even for that room plus presumably a share of the bills is cheap, notwithstanding the lack of a door and the low ceiling.  But it's academic anyway as to how good a deal it was.  Fact is Nic signed the contract, the contract is presumably legally binding and the contract requires Nic to pay €3,600 over twelve months with no early termination.

Nic, if I were in your position, I would relax, finish my course, try to avoid paying any more rent or bills and leave Spain when you were intending to leave anyway.  This is not a criminal matter and there is no chance of you getting a criminal record.  Knowing your name and passport number won't help him at all.  This is a civil matter and the courts will only become involved if he applies for an order against you which I would give you odds of 20 to 1 he won't do.  It will cost him too much even if you were resident here.  But with you long gone it would be a complete waste of his and the court's time.  And as soon as you are gone, what's he going to do?  Rent your room to someone else.  So now he's killed off any action against you because he has not suffered financial loss.

As Patricia has said, treat it as a lesson learned the hard way and don't sign contracts in future that leave you dependent on things outside your control.

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09 Jun 2011 6:26 AM by mariadecastro Star rating in Algeciras (Cadiz). 9380 posts Send private message

Legal Questions? Speak to Maria Direct

 I definitely need to see the contract.

Kind regards,



Maria L. de Castro, JD, MA


Director www.costaluzlawyers.es

El blog de Maria

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09 Jun 2011 11:12 AM by frausy12 Star rating. 5 posts Send private message

Once again thank you all for your advice. It is absolutely amazing what this web site offers and the fact that its members are so willing to help.


@Maria. I will send you the contract today.


@Jek. I am leaning toward this option as I don't think that he would benefit from making it a legal matter. He will also have the 2 months rent to cover his costs and he can always find another tenant (something that I am still doing now which would completely resolve this whole issue). Just so it is clear I am renting a "room" (if one can call it that) in a shared flat with 2 other people. One of these people has since moved in his partner and I am not too sure if this is legal either. The landlord does not offer receipts after payment as he told me that it is not the done thing in Spain(I always chase him up for a receipt as it seems fishy that he would not give receipts - perhaps he is doing everything en negro).

The other two tenants are also in my position and will be leaving next month. They are unwilling to pay him this months rent as they will also be losing out on the 2 months deposit as well as the rent for June. 

I have another internship planned for July in Barcelona and I would hate for there to be a problem when I return to Spain as it would blemish my reputation for future employers.


This has most definitely been a learning curve and it seems that I am learning the hard way; a lesson is being learnt nonetheless.

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