Since the Local Lodging boom began in 2008, small property owners are returning in increasing numbers to traditional long-term rentals. Numerous factors are pushing this trend. “AL” offerings have reached glut conditions in some central urban areas. Excessive offerings and limited demand push down prices. Over the last ten years, Local Lodging enrolments in Lisbon have soared from less than 3,000 to almost 50,000. In addition, Local Lodging can prove to be demanding work. Outsourcing tasks such as cleaning, marketing and maintenance can eat into profits. In contrast, long-term rentals require only a minimum involvement on the part of landlords.
Inspections and audits of aquatic facilities in tourist resorts continue to be lacking more than a year after the latest legislation was passed. In question is Law 61/2017 of August 01 which exempted resorts from contracting lifeguards for their pools. According to this legislation, the presence of a lifeguard became optional, provided that permanent supervision was in place, secured by a duly identified technician with first aid training. According to the National Tourist Registry, there are currently 4,426 resorts registered in Portugal. “AL” units outnumber these registrations by almost 20 fold. Despite the disparity, the rules for tourist developments continue not to apply to Local Lodging Accommodations.
3.4 million tourists who visited Portugal in 2018 were housed in Airbnb accommodations. The US company reports that these visits had an impact on the Portuguese national economy in the order of €2 billion, or the equivalent of 1% of GDP. On average, each of these visitors who booked via Airbnb spent €115 per day. Portugal is among the countries where Airbnb has the most significant economic impact, ranking 10th after the USA ($33,800,000), France ($10,800,000) and Spain ($6,900,000).
The holiday let reservation platform has added “Airbnb Luxe” to its options. The new category makes available luxury accommodations and associated premium services, such as a route planner, chefs and masseurs. The Airbnb Luxe promises offerings to guests that are “the most extraordinary houses in the world”.
The withdrawal of a property from a Local Lodging tourist activity was already potentially subject to capital gains assessment under previous legislation. However, the way the law was drafted left room for doubt as to the exact point that the tax would be due. In the 2018 State Budget, this doubt was clarified, making it unambiguous that there is deferred payment of capital gains tax when the property is further assigned on an ongoing basis to income from category F (long-term rental). Without this abeyance, a Capital Gain may be attained in the year of cessation of the business assignment. Regardless, reporting is done in your annual “IRS” return.
The Vila Nova de Gaia Municipal Council has passed regulations to limit Local Lodging establishments and prevent the dislocation of long-term residents from historic neighbourhoods. The city centre and the entrance to the bridge D. Luís I are two of the target areas for the new restrictions. These measures follow on the heels of similar actions taken in Lisbon and other municipalities around the country.
The number of new Local Accommodation (“AL”) registrations in the municipality of Oporto fell by 40% in the first quarter of 2019 as compared to the same period last year. The City does not manifest the need to implement “AL” containment measures as has happened in Lisbon, considering that tourism in Porto continues to grow and is in good health.
In the neighbourhoods most pressured by tourism, it will be possible to open new Local Lodging Establishments (“AL”). However, according to the rules that the capital’s municipal council wants to see approved, new registrations will be dependent on a special authorisation. “AL” licences will be valid for five years, after which they will have to be renewed. Currently, seven historical areas face restrictions.
Attentive to Local Lodging activities, the tax man is tightening its grip on owners who fail to report and pay their taxes. Online platforms may soon be required to share information on customers, according to the Jornal de Notícias. The aim of the Portuguese Revenue is to avoid fraud and tax evasion. To this end, the ministry is studying ways to force the holiday letting reservation platforms to report “AL” operator data to Finanças.
The new regulatory restrictions implemented since October of last year have failed to slow demand for central Lisbon properties. While new Local Lodging applications dropped by 60%, foreign investors continue to seek out and buy property in historical districts as real estate sales soared by 38% over the period. While the “AL” sector is still significant, there are clearly other factors driving the market as well.