It can be quite difficult for an expat to find accommodation in Spain. The rental market is quite restrictive. Here is an overview.
Regarding accommodation in Spain, it may be quite difficult to find housing possibilities in Madrid where demand is strong, where prices are relatively high and where supply is short. It is nonetheless possible to find suitable accommodation at affordable prices elsewhere in Spain.
As a whole, rents are relatively high in major Spanish cities, especially in most popular area. However, away from city or economic centres, prices remain affordable. It's up to you to decide where you want to settle.
The most common practice for duration of a lease agreement in Spain is 5 years with a minimum tenure of one year. In other words, after a year, you are free to break your lease with a notice period of one or two months. Make sure that the rental agreement clearly specifies your obligations and those of the landlord regarding tenancy period, maintenance fees etc. A verbal lease may be legal, but you can also buy rental agreement templates in newsagencies for instance.
A one or two months' rent deposit in cash is often required from the landlord to cope for the possible damage the tenant might cause. The landlord must give the deposit back to the tenant within a month after lease termination.
There is generally no inventory prior to the moving in Spain. Take and attach pictures of the accommodation to your lease agreement and make an inventory list as exhaustive as possible, especially in the case the accommodation is furnished.
Your rent may include property tax and residence tax. Find out what the price of your rent includes! Water, gas and electricity must be paid separately and are generally not included in the rent.
If you need to find a suitable place to live at a valuable price in Madrid or in any other major Spanish city, flat-sharing is a very cheap and popular option ( "piso compartido"). Many websites are dedicated to flat-sharing in Spain. Browse the Internet or visit one of the links below.
If you are looking for accommodation in an hurry, contact the tourist office of your municipality to get a list of vacant flats.