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.
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.
In the past six months, almost 2,000 “AL” enrolments have been wound up. Many owners have stopped letting but failed to cancel their registrations due to capital gains tax liabilities. In the first quarter of 2019, new “AL” sign-ups fell nationally by 40% and by 60% in Lisbon. These numbers are likely to be understated. In total, the capital currently counts with 18,000 Local Lodging Establishments. Nationwide, there are approximately 83,000. 2020 could prove to be a year of mass exodus.
The Lisbon Municipal Council has prepared regulations which delimit the “’containment areas” to Local Lodging according to the law that came out last year. To the five neighborhoods that have been suspended since October 2018 from new holiday lets registrations – Bairro Alto, Madragoa, Castelo, Alfama and Mouraria – will be added two more: Graça and Colina de Santana.
There are more than 80,000 Local Lodging Establishments in Portugal and only eight inspectors from “ASAE” (Autoridade de Segurança Alimentar e Económica) to oversee them. Lack of safety and health conditions are the most common problems. But the capacity to intervene is “very limited”.
The World Travel & Tourism Council estimates that tourism in Portugal will expand by 5.3% in 2019, more than double the European average of 2.5%. Last year, the sector grew by 8.1%, contributing €38.4 billion to the Portuguese economy, a total of 19.1% of the country’s overall economic activity.
Over the past four decades, global warming has taken hold in Portugal according to statistics gathered by the Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera ‑ IPMA. Maximum temperatures have increased by 1.6ºc over the past 40 years and summer has stretched by 6 more weeks in the north and centre of the country, as defined by the number of days with temperatures above 25ºc. This trend has been less pronounced in the south. There has also been less rain leading to more frequent severe droughts.
There are new deadlines for the payment of the Municipal Property Tax (“IMI”). Instead of running between April and October as before, tax settlement will take place between May and November in 2019. “IMI” is paid in one go or in several instalments, depending on whether taxation is less or greater than €100. May is the month for single assessments when the tax due is under €100; or for the first instalment, in cases where the amount owed is greater. Second payments are in August when “IMI” exceeds €500. Finally, November is for final payments when taxation falls between €100 – €500 or third instalments if the levy is greater than €500.
Tourism brought nearly €14 billion to Lisbon in 2017, approximately 20% of the region’s total wealth. The sector is responsible for 182,000 jobs, as estimated in a report from Deloitte and the Lisbon Tourism Association.
Insurance providing civil liability coverage guaranteeing the property against damages caused by guests and third parties is required of all operators responsible for “AL” services. The minimum capital per claim is €75,000. Entities operating “AL” units that are part of a condominium must also have coverage guaranteeing property damage caused by fire in or from the “AL” unit. These insurances are mandatory for all Local Lodging establishments registered after 21 October 2018. Their absence is grounds for cancellation of “AL” registrations. Units registered before this date have up to two years to meet the requirements.