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As compared to hotels, “AL” already has twice the capacity to receive tourists in Lisbon. In the nation’s capital which has 500,000 inhabitants, Local Lodging can accommodate 102,000 holidaymakers. In March 2019, there were 18,000 “AL” units in the municipality of Lisbon, an increase of around 80% from 2008, maintaining the trend of accelerated growth of previous years. Of the 18,000 accommodations, 90% are short-term holiday let apartments (notably commercialised through Airbnb), with 9% being hostels, while hotels can accommodate less than 50,000 travellers. Since 2001, the data reveals that Lisbon has been losing inhabitants while tourist demand has been steadily increasing. In 2011, the city received 2.9 million guests. By 2017, demand almost doubled to 5.2 million (+ 83%), which represents a nearly quarter of the total holidaymaker demand received nationwide.
France is the EU country with the highest number of tourist beds available. According to 2016 data collected by the European Statistical Office, the French tourist industry registered 5.1 million beds or 16.4% of the EU total. Italy ranked a close second with 4.9 million beds (15.8%). Spain placed third with 3.5 million beds or 11.2%. Over the same period, Portugal recorded approximately 567,800 tourist accommodations, an increase of 16,100 beds (+3%) when compared to the previous year.
The Left Block, a partner in the governing coalition, proposes changes to current Local Lodging legislation. Under the soon-to-be recommended plan, holiday letting not exceeding 90 days per year should continue to benefit from the current tax regime. Year-round operation – without a limit of days and designated as “tourist accommodation” (Habitação turística) – must be equated with a hotel activity and assessed on the same basis.
As an accommodation service business, Local Lodging is subject to VAT at the reduced rate of 6% (5% in Madeira and the Azores). Value Added Tax is applied to the price of lodging when annual income surpasses €10,000 and is reported quarterly to the Portuguese Tax Authority. In contrast, income from long-term lets (<30 days) is exempt from VAT.
The penalty for letting furnished accommodations to tourists without a license (registration with your local Council) is as follows: for Individuals: €2,500 to €3,740.98 / for Companies: €25,000 to €44,891.22 The same fines also apply to the absence of an Energy Efficiency Certificate that is mandatory when conducting property related activities.
Foreign property Investments double 2013 levels
In the first 6 months, real estate investments by international groups and individuals have reached 400 million Euros. This should bring property purchases close to pre-crisis levels by the end of the year. Currently, this investing is predominantly in commercial property in upscale sections of Lisbon.
In a single day in August, the GNR received 8 complaints regarding potential local lodging irregularities. The accusations arose from people who had paid while making reservations who later found that either the accommodation did not exist or was already rented.