New local lodging laws were passed in the Portuguese parliament last month granting local councils and even homeowners extensive powers to restrict the number of properties that can qualify for local lodging licences.
Town Halls and parish councils will now be able to limit the number of local lodging licences (Alojamento Local – AL) issued in a neighbourhood, and also stipulate the percentage of properties that can hold a licence in specific areas.
In addition, home owners can also stop neighbours from letting out their properties to holiday makers. The new law also states that whenever more than half of home owners are against an apartment(s) being adapted for holiday lettings, citing issues affecting the daily lives of others, they may vote against approval, followed by informing the local mayor of their decision.
Local lodging licences are required to enable property owners to let out their properties to holiday makers. Those letting out a property without the appropriate licence can be subjected to increased fines of up to 4,000 euros for private individuals and 40,000 euros for companies.
Local lodging licences will also be limited to no more than seven licences to any single owner.
The new criteria will only apply to new licences issued once the law comes into effect, which is set to occur within 60 days of its publication in the Government Gazette.
Overseas property investors who currently let out their properties should ensure that they apply for the correct licence as soon as possible before the new laws become valid.
The move was bitterly opposed by the national association of estate agents in Portugal (APEMIP).
APEMIP President, Luís Lima, said: ‘Local lodging has brought investment, encouraged renovations and brought new dynamism to city centres, while also saving the building and restaurant industries, while also creating jobs for people who would otherwise have had to leave the country.’
He also commented that ‘leaving the decision as to whether or not a person may rent out their property in the hands of fellow homeowners is letting them become prisoners to envious and bad neighbours’.
Around 60,000 properties are currently registered across the country, with the majority located in Lisbon and Porto, followed closely by Albufeira.