Everywhere you go to, Madrid, Barcelona and other parts of the world, including UK, you visit an estate agent, he will show you what is available for rent on his books and, if you like something, you pay one month deposit and one months rent in advance on signing the contract. It has always been so. The deposit is taken in case you cause damage to the property at the end of the tenancy or if you leave behind unpaid water or electric bills.
Before the property boom, some agents in the South of Spain started to develop the habit of charging two months rent deposit instead of one and it was a common occurrence, at the end of a tenancy, to see the agent keep all the deposit moneys and find any excuse to keep the lot.
Some tenants, who needed the refund of their deposit in order to put it down on another property, started to withhold the rent for two months before moving and recover their needed money this way.
Landlords and agents cannot legally claim damages to property when there are none, so the nature of the second month rent was changed to a non refundable finders fee, which is complete nonsense and unprofessional to say the least, yet this invented charge was adopted by many agents on the Ccosta del Sol, particularly in the Manilva and Eestepona areas.
As the level of property sales rose and built up to a boom, the controversial charge was placed on the back boiler and so was the argument. Unfortunately it has come to our notice that some agents have now reverted back to the bad habit of charging tenants finders fees.
It is disappointing to see that they are at it again when so many agents make it a point of sale not to charge a finders fee. With so many empty properties and such few tenants, they should pay the tenant for finding the agent. Why should anyone pay a finders fee when all you have to do is look around and observe the hundreds of empty properties looking for tenants? Many even display a poster with the owners telephone number. They just dont learn do they?
The estate agent is employed by the landlord, not by the tenant, and earns his money from the landlord not from the tenant; therefore you should not sign any agreement with the agent as you may be signing an acceptance to pay a finders fee. The only thing you should sign is the tenancy agreement and it is advisable to have it checked by a lawyer to avoid any pitfalls.