Legal guide to living with pets in Spain

A big part of feeling comfortable and at ease when you move to a different country is having your pet with you. However, each country has its own laws and restrictions for animals living in buildings, and Spain is no different. So once you’ve transported your pet dog, cat or ferret over the border, what are the rules for having animals in Spain?

Laws for having pets in communal buildings

The majority of the rules relating to what you can and can’t do with pets in apartment buildings in Spain come from the Ley de Propiedad Horizontal, or Horizontal Property Law. This is a Spanish law that ensures the rights of people living in a communal area (such as a block of flats or an urbanización private estate) not to be subject to disturbing, unhealthy, dangerous or illegal activities. This can include discomfort caused by other people’s animals.

First and foremost, you must look to see whether the Statutes of the Residents’ Association (Estatutos de la Comunidad) expressly prohibit keeping animalsanywhere on the property. Most of the time you should be fine and there will be nothing that says you can’t have pets, but sometimes these clauses are included in the community bylaws, and it’s worth checking just to be on the safe side.

Assuming there is no prohibition in the Statutes, you’re free to have pets at home as long as they don’t bother the neighbours. This includes things like making lots of noise; having ticks, fleas and other parasites; emanating bad smells; and being violent or dangerous, even if it’s within the boundaries of your house or apartment. If you keep a dog in the garden of your house and it’s not tied up, you must put up a sign to tell people it’s there: Beware of the dog!

For rented flats in Spain, your lease contract may have a clause that prohibits domestic animals; if you go ahead and bring pets onto the property anyway, the landlord has the right to end the rental contract and evict you. If you wish to have pets in a rented apartment, your best bet is to negotiate a change in the contract with the owner.

In terms of shared, public spaces, the law states that you will be responsible for cleaning up if your cat or dog does their business in the corridors, staircases, elevators or anywhere else in the building. Although it’s not necessary by law, it’s also a good idea to keep dogs on leads and other animals under strict control when in public areas, just as a matter of good manners. Likewise, when using the lift in your building, it’s the neighbourly thing to do to let others go first if they have allergies or phobias towards your animal. In short, acting with understanding and respect towards your neighbours will ensure a harmonious cohabitation and help to make sure that no one takes exception to your pets.

Other things you should know about having pets in Spain

As well as the aforementioned rules for having pets in a Spanish home, there are other legal obligations you have as an owner. These include the requirement to provide suitable accommodation for your pet, which means you cannot keep them on a terrace, patio or balcony on a permanent basis. You have the responsibility to keep your animals out of harm’s way and in a good physical and mental state.

You are also required to make sure your pet is free of diseases and vaccinated against rabies every year. This is obligatory, for example, in all dogs over 3 months old. Your animal must also be registered in the Pet’s Register (Registro de Animales de Compañía) with details of your home address, telephone number and their vaccination status. You will even have an animal health card that gives them their own animal identification number. Potentially dangerous animals must also be entered onto a separate register, the Registro de Animales Potencialmente Peligrosos. If you fail to show any of this documentation when asked by a legal authority, you’ll have 10 days to get it together otherwise you may be subject to legal action.

At the end of the day, the rules for having pets in Spain are fairly self-evident and common-sense laws. As long as your pet is well behaved and you respect your neighbours and Spanish law, there’s nothing to stop you from living happily with your furry, little friend in Spain.