Top Housing Tips in Barcelona

Bruno Ferenci

Top Housing Tips Before Booking a Flat or Room

Finding accommodation in Barcelona is one of the frustrating things about moving to Barcelona. Outraging prices, overcharges, confusing and hidden fees, scammers, flats or rooms with no windows or strange layouts, you name it.

This is why it’s very important to know what to do to make sure you get the best deals and avoid risks. Here we have compiled a list of top tips to keep in mind when looking for a flat or room in Barcelona.

Decide what kind of accommodation you are interested in

Private room

If you are interested in a room, things can be difficult. You can’t pick which room and you have to accept a lot or all the conditions you are given.

Tips for finding a private room

  • Rent from a reputable source like Spotahome. Use the Studentfy coupon code STUDENTFY2020 to receive a 20% discount on the booking fee
  • Communicate with the others living in the flat to know what they are like and what they do. Do they throw parties at home? Are they loud?
  • Visit the room in person if possible. Barcelona is notorious for having rooms without any windows or very tiny rooms in certain neighborhoods

Shared apartment

Renting a whole apartment and then picking a room is probably the most budget-friendly option with an average rent of 550€ per month for a room.

Tips for sharing an apartment:

  • Make new friends as fast and early as possible
  • Ask around who else is looking for a room and then rent an entire apartment together
  • Know what every person in the apartment would be responsible for (e.g. everyone cooks for themselves or every night, one person cooks for the rest)
  • Tell the others how social you are. If you are very reserved, living with very sociable and outgoing people can be difficult
  • Look at reputable agencies like ShBarcelona, SuiteLife, Atemporal and Spotahome where you can find lots of good and affordable apartments.
  • Use the Studentfy discounts if you rent from ShBarcelona, SuiteLife, Atemporal and Spotahome

Studio or one-bedroom 

Having your own studio or one-bedroom flat is ideal for those who don’t want roommates but things can get a bit expensive.

Tips for finding a studio or one-bedroom flat:

  • It is generally more expensive than sharing the flat with the others. An average studio in Barcelona goes around 900€
  • Read your contract and the conditions very well
  • Know in advance how much your bills and utilites would cost you if not included in the rent
  • Talk with the previous tenant if possible

Student residence

Living in a student residence is great if you want to meet other students and have an active social life

Tips for finding a student residence:

  • Ask your school if they are partners with any reputable student residences
  • Check out reputable sources like Spotahome and Barcelona Design Flats to receive discounts on your fee
  • Make yourself familiar with the rules of the residence (e.g. no noise after 10pm, etc)

Become familiar with the details

A lot of students realize there were so many things they didn’t understand after facing an issue like a broken item in the flat, or moving out before the end of the contract. It’s important to know every single detail so there won’t be any nasty surprises.

Deposit

In most situations, you will have to pay a deposit, usually equivalent to one or two month’s rent but issues with getting the deposit back are pretty common. Lots of property owners want to keep the deposit so they will try to find any excuse to deduct from it.

Tips regarding the deposit:

  • Know the exact deposit payable right from the beginning
  • Ask for a signed and/or stamped receipt or proof of payment right after paying the deposit
  • Understand who holds onto the deposit. The property owner, or the agency
  • Read all the conditions related to the deposit meticulously
  • Make sure the contract clearly mentions what happens to the deposit if you move out earlier
  • If you don’t understand something, ask for a written clarification
  • Record and document any damage right after moving in. In this case, you can prove that if something is broken, it wasn’t your fault
  • Record and document as much as possible before moving out. You don’t want to be blamed for something the next tenant does
  • Read about the law changes and stay up to date
  • If you have to move out early, inform the holder at least 3 to 4 weeks in advance if possible

Contract length

It is very important to know what happens in case you leave the apartment before the contract ends, your opportunities to extend your contract in case you want to stay more. If you want to leave the flat earlier usually you will be either obliged to find a substitute or pay one month of rent.

It is very important to know what happens to your deposit if you move out before the end of the contract (if there is any).

Tips to contract lengths:

  • Understand when the exact date of the end of the contract is
  • Inform the property owner 3 to 4 weeks before the end of the contract if you want to extend the contract or move out
  • Many official documents or procedures like the NIE or empadronamiento require a contract that’s valid for at least

Monthly rent

It is the amount you will have to pay on a monthly basis for living in the property. It is common in Spain to pay the rent in the first week of each month via money transfer or in cash.

Tips regarding the monthly rent:

  • Check if the rent includes all expenses (gastos incluidos) such as gas, electricity (luz), water (agua) and community fees (gastos de comunidad)
  • Always ask for a signed and preferably stamped proof of payment
  • If you cannot pay a rent in time (for example, because of money transfer issues), inform the property owner as soon as possible before they contact you
  • Negotiate for a better price if you are staying for a long time or renewing the contract

Agency fee

It’s very strange for many foreigners that it’s the tenant who has to pay the agency fee instead of the property owner, as is the case in many other countries. This means the owners can have their property promoted by many different agencies at the same time and if someone rents out the property, the agency charges the tenant at no extra cost for the owner. 

Because of this, the market is heavily saturated with real estate agencies competing as hard as they can to have as many properties as possible available in their portfolio.

The typical agency fee in Barcelona is usually either the equivalent of one month’s rent + tax or 10% of the annual contract + tax. Some agencies charge an additional fee called ITP.

Tips regarding the agency fees

  • Rent out from reputable agencies with lower or affordable fees like ShBarcelona, SuiteLife, Atemporal and Spotahome
  • Use the Studentfy discounts to get a discount on the agency fees
  • Know every single and exact fee payable before agreeing to anything. Many agencies ask you to pay for other hidden fees right after singing the document
  • Ask for a written and signed document mentioning every single fee you have to pay to the agency and to the owner (it’s best if the document mentions that there are no other fees other than the ones mentioned in the document)
  • Receive a written proof of payment when you pay the fee
  • Do not agree to anything if the agency is too pushy
  • Research the reputation of the agency online and read the reviews
  • Ask around about the agencies Many agencies are known for ripping people off.
  • Understand whether you have to pay an agency fee again or not if you extend/renew the contract
  • Try to see if you can get access to the owner directly to avoid paying the agency fee

Detect and avoid scammers

Because of the huge amount of demand, Barcelona is full of real estate agencies trying to get as much of the pie as possible. There are so many scammers who pretend they are legit agencies, and there are many real agencies notoriously known for ripping everyone off.

Learn how to identify the scammers who will often advertise properties that seem too good to be true, and will always be in a hurry to close the deal.

Tips to detect and avoid scammers

  • Never ever send money to receive keys
  • If the person is in a hurry to close the deal, something must be off. Keep an eye on this.
  • Be alert if someone is in a hurry. Cybercriminals are always keen to close the deal as soon as possible.
  • Don’t trust landlords who say that they live abroad and for whatever reason are unable to show you the apartment in person
  • Be suspicious if you notice that the photos of the property have watermarks from a different website, or are the same as you have seen in other adverts.
  • If they ask you to pay on a website, check the legitimacy of the domain and the link
  • If someone sends you a link to Airbnb and the link has lots of random characters in it (like 73b3n491ewz) or it looks strange, contact Airbnb’s support team to check the legitimacy of the link
  • Be cautious of any offers with very low prices. If you’re interested in a particular area, compare the rental cost with the rest of the offers in the same neighborhood.
  • Be aware of the Airbnb scam (read below)

The Airbnb Scam

This is one of the most common methods used by fraudsters. Properties are advertised on real estate listing sites such as Idealista. Once you have contacted the advertiser, the fraudsters explain that they live far away and that they can show you the apartment only if you pay the deposit first.

If the conversation continues, the fraudsters will send you a link to the property on (a fake) Airbnb. But the link does not take you to the official site, but rather a fake webpage that is made up to look like the real thing. When you pay, they access to all your credit card information and then they escape with your payment.

Conclusion

These are some of the tips we think that would help you make the best decisions and stay away from unpleasant situations. What tips did we miss? Leave a comment below and we will add it to our blog.

For relevant information, we recommend reading the following blogs:

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