Rent to buy agreements in Spain are becoming more and more common in the Spanish real estate market, and offers advantages to both the buyers and sellers.
So what is a rent with option to buy agreement?
A rent to buy agreement is essentially an agreement between the buyers and sellers of a property, whereby the buyer, for whatever reason, isn´t in the current position to buy the property there and then, but intends to buy the property in the future. For the tenant/buyer, this is advantageous as it gives them the option to move into the property, and secure the property as theirs, without the risk of another buyer coming in and potentially losing the property of their dreams.
A rent to buy agreement, also known as rent with option to buy, is where the buyer/tenant will rent the property, and partial if not all rent paid, is deducted from the final purchase cost of the property.
Do you need a deposit?
When you rent a property in Spain, or anywhere for that matter, you will pay 4-6 weeks rent upfront as a security deposit, which is returned to you providing that the property is vacated with no structural damage, or damage to items left in the property by the owner, such as furnishings.
However, when you purchase a property, you will pay a deposit, usually circa 5,000€ which is non-refundable under Article 1.454 of the Spanish Civil Code:
If earnest money or a deposit were delivered in a purchase agreement, the purchaser may terminate the purchase agreement if the he or she agrees to forfeit the earnest money or deposit, or the seller can terminate if he or she returns double the amount of the deposit.
This is where the rental agreement and a purchase agreement coincide with a rent to buy contract. When you rent the property, you will pay a deposit on the property as you would when you purchase a property. This deposit is non-refundable and will be deducted from the final purchase price. However, if you decide not to proceed with the purchase at any point during the initial rental period, then you will forfeit this deposit.
What are the benefits to the seller with a rent-to-buy agreement?
When agreeing to a rent-to-buy contract, one of the first things to discuss is the timescale. If the buyer is unable to purchase the property for 6 months, then this will be put to the seller to see if they are happy to take the property off the market and wait for 6 months for completion. The advantage to the seller is that they can secure a sale in potentially less time than it would take to sell the property naturally, depending on the current market, and also, they´ll be able to receive the rental income up until the date of completion.
How do I know when these options are available?
Well, quite simply, if you don´t ask, you don´t get. Many sellers will put their property on the market and hold tight for a sale. In a down market, this could take 6-12 months, depending on how flexible they are to accepting offers. That being said, we´ve sold properties within a matter of days of the properties being listed. So it really is a matter of asking the question.
Our advice would be that if you are not in an immediate position to purchase, but know you will be with the next 6-12 months, then ask your agent if they would mind putting the question to the owner as to whether or not they would consider a rent to buy option. This way, you won´t be wasting your own or anyone else´s time by viewing a property that you´re not in a position to purchase.
What documentation is required for a “rent with option to buy” agreement?
1. Specified period of time as to when the tenant/buyer agrees to proceed with the purchase
2. Documentation of the property being rented/purchased
3. Specification of final purchase price.
4. What percentage of the rent will be deducted from the final purchase price.
5. A Rent to buy contract, known in Spain as “contrato de alquiler con opción a compra” written up by a solicitor.
6. Reservation agreement of the sale to take the property off the market.