WHAT do you imagine the cheapest property rental is in Madrid, a notoriously pricy city to find accommodation? The current answer is 7€ per month, or €84 per year. Before you start making plans to move to the Spanish capital to snap up a bargain, there is a major catch. Those enjoying the rock bottom rentals had the price fixed before 1985 and in many cases under the Franco era, where property owners were obliged by law to do this for the lifespan of the tenant.
A number of investors have purchased these properties at cut price, complete with a sitting tenant who cannot be moved on against their will or have their rent increased. However, upon their death the property passes to the new owner who can then charge whatever rent they see fit. These investors are usually relatively young while the tenants are all pensioners but at the end of the day the purchase remains a gamble on the life expectancy of the tenant. A similar practice occurs in France but there is a cautionary tale here. The lawyer for Jeanne Calment brought her rent protected apartment when he was 40 and she was almost 90. Mademoiselle Calment went on to become the oldest person to ever live, passing away in the same apartment in 1997 aged 122, outliving her landlord by over a decade.