struggle to find a rental contract! No NIE / Health insurance!

I am amazed and daunted by the fact how difficult it is with accommodation in Barcelona.  I am European, (German) working full time. But what is it, I have a "normal" job, do not earn a fortune and where ever I try to find a space to live (kind of decently), its almost impossible, Why? Its not so much the rent (although it is higher) but nobody wants to offer a decent contract! Yes I understand there are many people unfortunately who take their landlord for a ride, because the law here is a bit over protective on the side of Tenants. But ... Where is common sense? If you see that someone simply wants to find a home, get registered, and live a normal life... Where is the Problem?
I came four months ago, have a working contract but can not register my full NIE / Health insurance.. because nobody trusts enough to give me a rental contract.
At the moment, I do not have the cash flow for a down payment with an agency, so this is areal challenge.  Hopefully I can solve it because otherwise - I would not be able to stay and that is what I really wish to achieve, building my home here. I am sure I am not alone in this...

Take care and enjoy the summer while still around. :)

Hi I had this issue as well and especially from renting privately from landlords. I have now paid a lot of money to get an apartment with an agency (however I have had many issues with this agency in question) but it seems that if you do it through an agency there is more legal security.

The only easy way is to get to know people and perhaps a friend of a friend can recommend a stable accommodation for you.

Dear Robert, fully agreed. This and patience is needed ;)

Not sure why you have a problem getting an NIE registration. It is not dependent on a rental contract nor work. One can actually get it via any embassy in one's home country. Generally it takes about 2 weeks to get emailed and is valid for  months. The cost is about EUR 10. That is enough leverage to use it to iopen a bank account. By the way, no need to tell right away that the NIE is for work. Just say to pen a bank account.
Also get a prepaid Spanish cell phone number at any Vodafone store showing your passport. That makes you even more a valid person here.
Then open a bank account for foreigners by showing your NIE letter, your salary slip and passport. Smaller banks are usually easier than bigger banks and nicer.
With a bank account essential to pay Spanish bills as some may require automatic payment, certainly phone company and utility and it helps to buy a car.
Next comes then looking for a space to live in. Do not use agencies. They always have too many requirements. Rent direct from the owner using the various rental sites here and looking for those that say 'particular'. Look specially for unfurnished flats. They are harder to rent out for Spaniards. Anything that is uncommon is harder to rent out so they have less demands then. Never had to show proof of income but I assume you can show a salary slip (nominal) if you have work in Barcelona.
Once you have living quarters register right away with the town and get a stamped original of their empadronamiento certificate by showing your passport, still valid NIE letter and rental agreement.
If your NIE is due to expire get it extended at the local policia nacional office (sort of immigration authority). It usually costs around EUR 10 and is done immediately.
Once you have all that, depending on your employment status you can either get your health insurance if your employer registered you as employee or pursue getting registered as an autonomo (contract worker if that is what you are) and after that get health insurance for autonomos. Also get supplementary insurance via the private insurers. It is worth it. State health care is not great despite all the bragging about it.
I recommend getting a gestor involved if you become an autonomo. It is an accountant who will do your paper work for you and protect you against Spanish government in most cases for a fee of about EUR 60 a month. Do not try to do that yourself.
Most important is that you never go to authorities (or agencies or landlords) without a Spanish speaker with you. It makes a world of difference how you get treated and how much it will cost.
Other important issue is, where possible, avoid going to authorities in the big cities. You get treated better and faster in small towns. They are often also less demanding. This is also a point of consideration when deciding to live in the city or not. It just saves you a lot of money, time and red tape not to live in the city, but there is the trade off of distance to work of course. It also redces the problem of getting a rental.

Thanks for your awesome reply. Out of the mentioned requirements indeed I do have my bank account, a paid fulltime job, a 3 month NIE (which now runs out) but unfortunately still no empadrionamente, which is the key factor and for that yes you do need the rental  agreement but eventually I get there. Your explanatio is highly appreciated. Thank you!

Great. You can go get a renewal of the NIE without problems. It is needed for the empadronamiento as they won't give it without a valid one. Once you are settled get the permanent NIE card (is not a residency card as it has no photo). It will be valid for 5 years. Then you do not have to go every  months to the PN.
Make sure to have proof of income and proof of insurance when you go for that one. The PN requires it.
As to the rental agreement, avoid getting caught in a short lease till end of June where the Spaniards often rent out property to tourists at enormous prices in July/August. Unless you can find a place to stay then. A short lease is easier to get though than a long (1 year or more) lease as there is rent protection in Spain for long leases. So it is less attractive, but not impossible.
Right now is when the properties start to become available again in greater numbers. In summer rentals are dead until beginning of September.

Hey Silktiger,
Excellent intel from Paperdetective but do tell us how you got on...
I'm about to jump onto the same world of juggling so this is brilliant info...
Best of luck, Rubio

Crossing fingers, I might sign a contract for a nice flat later on tonight, however due to high rents/ deposits its me now looking for a room-mate LOL talking about charma or game changer! :-) … tml…

Good luck with the contract!
Taking on a lodger sounds like a great move (as long safe and good company)
May even save you some €€ for all your hard work no doubt...

Well thank you so much for the good wishes, we all need a little luck from time to time.
I am sure it will all turn out beautifully now.

I still do not see the problem. A rental contract is just one of options to get an empadronamiento. You can also use a utility bill or have the landlord come with you to the concello to vouch for you.
Now of course, if you cannot afford a separate utility bill, then the matter is really that your finances do not allow you to live there. Barcelona is not for those living on limited means. Anyway, if you can, have thw utility switched to your name. Asking is always possible.
As too getting a rental contract, the situation actually got better as the law changed in favor of landlords in that the courts now handle renter eviction cases much quicker at lesser cost but it will still cost them a couple of months and a couple of hundred euro since recently.
However, there are tricks around this. Essentially it is all about knowing the market. In Spain there are 1 million unused houses that need income so renters. That is an absurd number of houses of course. You just have to find them. If you want a home at an A1 location obviously you are trying to bend reality and that won't work.
a) homes that are for sale but remain unsold for a long time,
b) to avoid agencies like the plague as they generally only have EXPENSIVE high end inventory and do not care about helping home owners with lesser homes,
c) commit to 'largo plazo' contracts (which you can usually cancel each year depending on the agreed terms, again market driven) as there are even web sites with separate sections for those,
d) get to speak Spanish (few Spaniards speak other languages and in Catalunya they are often nationalist in that they even refuse using Spanish)   
e) do not bother to look in central Barcelona but go to the peripheries (other towns, rural areas) as 1) the nutty mayor is restricting rentals to foreigners explicitly (she thinks the city is 'too full' and 2) you have too much competition of (local) people who will rent without contract but further out that competition dwindles so that is where your best chances lie.

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