Of Palm Trees and Plumbing

Raymundo LarraĆ­n Nesbitt, November, 11. 2019

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Article copyrighted © 2019. Plagiarism will be criminally prosecuted.

 

By Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt
Director of Larraín Nesbitt Lawyers
11th of November 2019

 

Today Saint Martin’s day (AKA as the Old Halloween), I thought I would write on a recent client inquiry we had.

Our American client wished to rent long term a villa perched atop a hill, which had commanding sea views, nestled in the beautiful peaceful town of Benahavis (Malaga). He approached us because he had gnawing doubts on a great lease deal he had found on internet. The monthly rental was incredibly well priced (read well-below the market value) considering the luxury location, the size of the plot and the lavish villa which boasted its own mature garden. Wary of something that sounded too good to be true he hired our rentals read & review service.

At a first glance the lease agreement seemed fine, except of course for the remarkable low monthly rental. However, upon closer inspection a couple of clauses caught my attention.

The first one was a clause on garden maintenance. It all seemed standard given how he was renting after all a luxury villa with a lush mature garden. But I focused on a line that mentioned the tenant would be liable to prune all palm trees in the property. I went back to my client and asked him if the property had many palm trees. As it turned out the property had several dozen. My non-resident client was unaware that pruning tall old palm trees could fetch several hundred euros, per tree. All in all, you were easily looking at over 20,000 euros in pruning expenses, only in palm trees, let alone other garden maintenance.

The second clause which caught my attention, because it was unusual, was that a tenant also undertook the responsibility of repairing and replacing all the plumbing and piping of this old property. As this was a villa that was decades old there was a huge risk that, unbeknown to him, there were lurking problems not apparent to the naked eye. Unless you hired a chartered surveyor beforehand to review the plumbing, you simply could not know if the landlord was trying to pull a fast one on my client. Plumbing of established properties can easily be in the dozens of thousands of euros if workers need to dig up the house and replace the expensive tiling. By law, tenants are liable for all normal wear & tear. Plumbing should be excluded, unless you specifically agree to it in a lease agreement – in which case it becomes binding.

You could surmise the conniving landlord was all too aware of both issues and regularly baited gullible tenants with a very low monthly rental as an enticing hook. The landlord would then request to be paid upfront a sizeable deposit in guarantee the tenant fulfilled his ‘contractual duties’. If a tenant refused, he would simply pocket the large deposit as a breach of contract on non-performance.

Bottom line, what a tenant saved himself in monthly let, he would overpay by way of pruning the huge collection of mature palm trees and repairing (or replacing) the faulty decades-old piping system. Signing this contract will set you back by at least thirty thousand euros. When you factored in these two items, in balance, you concluded the rental was in fact grossly overpriced. A classic case of clickbait.

 

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Larraín Nesbitt Lawyers is a law firm specialized in taxation, inheritance, conveyancing, and litigation. We will be very pleased to discuss your matter with you. You can contact us by e-mail at info@larrainnesbitt.com, by telephone on 952 19 22 88 or by completing our contact form to book an appointment.

 

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