Looking for a flat in Madrid? Then welcome to the jungle, baby! It’s true I have never lived abroad, so I don’t know exactly how is to look for a place to call home in other countries. But is also true that, many times, looking for something which isn’t quite expensive, nor too far from downtown, can be a discouraging task in Madrid- I’ve moved four times since 2009, so I had suffered it too. Plus, language and ignorance of the law can work as additional hurdles.
I have encouraging news for you. If you have some time, patience and knowledge, you can still find a spot where to live without having to sell your organs. In this post, I’m sharing with you some #Madridhacks I’ve learnt about Madrid’s rental market.
#1 Idealista is your best friend
There are many webs where you can look for apartments to rent in Madrid: fotocasa.es, enalquiler.com, spotahome.com or milanuncios.com are good examples. But the most popular website is Idealista, both for owners and for desperate people looking for a reasonable place to live. You must choose “Madrid capital” within the Madrid municipalities suggested by the website and after that, you have two options: you can choose a particular Madrid area or just pick the “see all homes option” and then use the searching tool to look exactly for a flat or a room to rent with your ideal features and spot them at a map.
Here’s a #Madridhack for you: look for adverts published during the last 24 hours or the last week. Anything published a month ago will probably be already rented, or just be a hell of a place. Then choose to sort by the most recent adverts: this website can tell you even if someone has published a flat 3 minutes ago.
Once you’ve spotted something interesting, you must run. Forget about sending an email to the advertiser: is highly likely that you’ll get no answer. You’ll have to call and set a date ASAP. Let’s take a real example: a saw an interesting, affordable flat for me and my couple that was published two hours before, so I called the real estate agent to book a visit. The first available hour was the following day by 19:15- I automatically knew I had no chance. The agent called me the next day by 10:00 am to tell me somebody had already called dibs on that place.
#Madridhack If you find an incredible flat with very attractive pictures and a fancy price, please be careful- it may be a scam. How do you know it for sure? Easy- try to make a call. If there’s no telephone number on the advert, but just and email, I would certainly be suspicious. If you write anyway, and someone writes you back asking for money before showing the flat, run away!
#2 Language clues
Language plays an important role at the rental market, at least in Madrid. Let’s take this random advert as an example:
Red code: if the advert emphasizes a certain aspect like light be careful- it may mean that light will be the best of the flat, or the only real attractive feature.
Green code: regarding location, always ask for the exact address. “Close to city center” may mean it’s 5 minutes away by walking, but also three metro stops away or even 5 km away. #MadridHack: always have Google Maps opened while you’re calling the advertiser.
Blue code: you may don’t believe it, but Madrid gets very cold on winter and very hot in summer. I would suggest looking for flats with central heating or gas heating; electric heating gets quite expensive and heat pump is probably the worst way to keep your flat warm and cozy. I would also suggest looking for a flat with air-conditioning if you plan to spend your summer in Madrid.
#Madridhack It’s quite frequent to find the expression “worth a visit (mejor ver)”. If pictures don’t look really attractive (weird perspectives taken by a non-professional photographer) you may be looking at a bargain. But I must say that most of the times it means “this flat is such a disaster that I have brain-wash visitors”.
#3 Some words about deposits
According to the Spanish Rent Act, you must tell your landlord or landlady that you are leaving the flat with at least one month in advance. Otherwise, you won’t get your deposit back. But I might say there are certain times that landlords aren’t quite honest about returning deposits. For instance, I once didn’t get it back because the landlord argued there were stains in the floor because of my fault (those stains probably would be there since the 1990s).
My advice is to be perfectly clear: call the owner and ask him/her to check the flat a prudent time before you leave (never wait to ask for your deposit once your back to your country). The flat must be in perfect conditions, so do whatever you need to make it look shiny again. An inventory of everything provided while you signed the rental contract would be ideal to make things clear.
What other people do is just not paying the rent the months left before they leave; for instance, if the deposit is the rent for two months, they don’t pay the two last months they spend in the flat. It won’t be the first time somebody does this trick, althought it isn’t quite landlord-friendly, so this choice is on you.
I hope you’ll find these tips useful. Let’s enjoy Madrid as locals!