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Andorra - Renting Property
There are a number of websites that allow property owners to list accommodation available for rent, from spare bedrooms to entire chalets. If you are securing accommodation in Andorra via this route, check you have an email from the owner confirming their rental meets all legal obligations.
Finding An Apartment In Andorra
If you are heading out to Andorra to find work for the winter season, start by staying in very short-term accommodation. Once you have found a job and your work permit has been issued, you be able to work out a budget for covering your accommodation costs for the rest of the winter season.
Your new employer or co-workers will have contacts and advice to help you secure affordable accommodation for the season. Be aware that you will be staying during the principality’s busiest time of year, when there are plenty of well-heeled skiers vying for holiday lets. Therefore, your accommodation will be fairly basic and probably shared with other seasonal workers, and will rarely be cheap.
Some employers will provide accommodation as part of the work on offer. A good example of this is in the chalet hospitality sector. Groups of guests staying in a catered chalet will be provided with breakfast and an evening meal, and possibly lunch too, by one person who also cleans the premises and undertakes a wide range of other hospitality tasks as required. It is essential for these staff to be in or near the chalet at all times, with free time spent usually at the local ski slopes. This means that accommodation will be offered in or very near the chalet.
Andorran real estate agencies must be registered, and comply with the registration regulations such as employing appropriately qualified and experienced staff, and being appropriately insured. As a result, Andorran real estate agents can generally be relied upon to give a reputable and trustworthy service to potential rental customers. That said, do not be persuaded to take on accommodation that is beyond your needs and price range.
Longer Term Leases
If you are staying longer than one season and want to live in one property without frequent changes, you will be seeking a long-term rental. In Andorra, these are normally offered for five years.
During those five years, the landlord cannot put the rent up by more than the cost of inflation. They cannot ask you to leave, unless you miss a rental payment or commit some other major breach of the contract.
That lengthy period gives private renters much more long-term security in Andorra than the majority of their counterparts in other European countries. You know your child can start at the local school without the landlord asking you to move nine months later, and you can relax knowing that the substantial costs of finding a new rental property are not going to hit you every two years.
Of course there is a downside to this. A property which is perfect for your circumstances when you find it may become too big or too small as your household changes over the years. For expats, sudden illness, your international employer closing your office, or even homesickness can all be factors which mean you no longer want to live in Andorra before the five years are up.
Luckily, there are usually legally accepted break clauses in a standard lease which mean you can terminate your contract early. In your first year of tenancy, you will need to give five months’ notice. For each additional year, the notice period falls by one month. So in the second year you give four months’ notice, and in the third year three months’ notice, and so on.
During the notice period you must continue paying the rent in full. However, this offers a way to alter your living arrangements as necessary without having to keep paying the existing lease for the entirety of the contract.
Really, you have the best of both worlds with this position; you are assured a right to live in the property for five years, but you can end the arrangements with a reasonable amount of notice on your part.
Unfortunately for tenants, there are moves in Andorra to change this system. A model of standard two-year lease contracts with the tenant being required to give at least three months’ notice to leave early is being assessed. Whilst this is in line with many European countries, and is better than the model used in the UK, the changes under consideration are aimed at making the rental property market a more profitable investment vehicles for landlords.
The Costs of Securing Accommodation In Andorra
Unfortunately, you will need hefty savings to cover the costs of taking out a rental lease every time you move. The real estate agent will require payment equivalent to the first month of rent, plus VAT of 4.5 percent. The landlord will also require the first months’ rent to be paid in advance, starting as you sign the contract and continuing throughout your tenancy. In addition, a security deposit of two months’ rent must be paid when the contract is signed and will not be returned until after the tenancy ends and the property is vacant.
Tenants must also take out insurance to cover the risk of fire and other serious damage. This is a legal requirement, so the real estate agent will be able to help you arrange this.
Therefore, on the day you sign the contract, you must pay more than four months of rent, all at once. Never do this in cash. It must be transferred by bank transfer. If you want the additional security of knowing that the substantial amount will arrive safely and not accidentally be sent to a stranger because one account number was wrong, try a nominal bank transfer first. This could be for as little as one euro; once the agent confirms the transfer has worked correctly, you can send across the whole amount in confidence that it will arrive in the correct bank account.
Rent must be paid each month by bank transfer. Never pay anyone in cash, as it will be difficult to prove should some legal dispute arise. If you are asked for cash, this may be a warning either that you are being scammed, or that the landlord is trying to evade tax.
Register Your Rental Agreement
When you have signed your rental agreement, you must register it. Your landlord will give you a copy of the property’s habitability certificate, which should be renewed by the landlord every ten years through official procedures. Take this with you to your local government centre when you register your rental agreement.
Take Photographs As You Move In
Throughout your lease, the landlord will be holding your security deposit. If any repairs are undertaken during or at the end of your tenancy, they will be paid for out of your security deposit. The same applies to missing items which need to be replaced. You will only receive any monies left over.
This means it is important for you to prove what was in the accommodation when you moved in, and the condition it was in.
There must be an inventory of items present on the first day, which you should check carefully before both you and the landlord sign it. If this isn’t done, then you can be charged later for an item which was never present.
Look carefully at the condition of the accommodation, including doors, windows and flooring. Inspect the bathroom and kitchen fittings. Identify anything that is broken or in a poor state of repair, and discuss these with the landlord or agent, taking careful notes of the discussion if it is not by email.
Most importantly, take photos which are backed up to cloud storage so you never mislay them. If you have to challenge a deduction from your security bond later, a photo showing the item in poor condition at the start of the tenancy will be invaluable for your defence.
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