Spain | Covid 19 – Measures for payment of the rent for commercial and industrial premises

Time to read: 5 min

This is a summary of the approved measures, which unfortunately for both tenants and landlords do not include any public aid or tax relief and just refer to a postponement in the payment of the rent.

Premises to which they are applied

Leased premises dedicated to activities different than residential: commercial, professional, industrial, cultural, teaching, amusement, healthcare, etc. They also apply to the lease of a whole industry (i.e. hotels, restaurants, bars, etc., which are the most usual type of businesses object of this deal).

Types of tenants

  • Individual entrepreneurs or self-employed persons who were registered before Social Security before the declaration of the state of alarm on March 14th, 2020
  • Small and medium companies, as defined by article 257.1 of the Capital Companies Act: those who fulfil during two consecutive fiscal years these figures: assets under € 4 million, turnover under € 8 million and average staff under 50 people

Types of landlords

In order to benefit from these measures, the landlord should be a housing public entity or company or a big owner, considering as such the individuals or companies who own more than 10 urban properties (excluding parking places and storage rooms) or a built surface over 1.500 sqm.

Measures approved

The payment of the rent is postponed without interest meanwhile the state of alarm is in force, but in any case, for a maximum period of four months. Once the state of alarm is overcome, and in any case in a maximum term of four months, the postponed rents should be paid along a maximum period of two years, or the duration of the lease agreement, should it be less than two years.

For landlords different to those mentioned above

The tenant could apply before the landlord for the postponement in the payment of the rent (but the landlord is not obliged to accept it), and the parties can use the guarantee that the tenant should mandatorily have provided at the beginning of any lease agreement (usually equal to two month’s rent, but could be more if agreed by the parties), in full or in part, in order to use it to pay the rent. The tenant will have to provide again the guarantee within one year’s term, or less should the lease agreement have a shorter duration.

Activities to which it is applied

Activities which have been suspended according to the Royal Decree that declared the state of alarm, dated march, 14ht, 2020, or according to the orders issued by the authorities delegated by such Royal Decree. This should be proved through a certificated issued by the tax authorities.

If the activity has not been directly suspended by the Royal Decree, the turnover during the month prior to the postponement should be less than 75% of the average monthly turnover during the same quarter last year. This should be proved through a responsible declaration by the tenant, and the landlord is authorised check the bookkeeping records.

Term to apply and procedure

The tenant should apply for these measures before the landlord within one month’s term from the publication of the Royal Decree-law, that is, from April 22nd, 2020, and the landlord (in case belongs to the groups mentioned in point c) is obliged to accept the tenant’s request, except if both parties have already agreed something different. The postponement would be applied to the following month.

As the state of alarm was declared more than one month ago (March 14th), landlords and tenants have already been reaching some agreements, for example 50% rent reduction during the state of alarm, and 50% rent postponement during the following 6 months. Tenants who do not reach an agreement with the landlord could face an eviction procedure, however court procedures are suspended during the state of alarm. We have also seen some abusive non-payment of rent by tenants.

When is becomes impossible to reach an agreement with the landlord, tenants have the legal remedy of claiming in Court for the application of the “rebus sic stantibus” principle, which was highly demanded during the 2008 financial crisis but very seldom applied by the Courts. This principle is aimed to re-balance the parties’ obligations when their situation had deeply changed because of unforeseen circumstances beyond their control. This principle is not included in the Spanish Civil Code, but the Supreme Court has accepted its application, in a very restricted way, in some occasions.

Mercedes Clavell
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