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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.
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.
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.
The distraction of holidaymakers and the lack of security at some “AL” flats have led to a rise in thefts at Local Lodging establishments, mainly those located in the “Baixa” district of downtown Lisbon. In response, law enforcement (“PSP”) has started a prevention program with the owners called “Blue Lock”.
The water regulator advocates that establishments used for local housing should pay for water as “non-household” users. The increase is already in place in several councils. However, there are other centres, such as Lisbon, where the municipality has reimbursed the extra charge.
Staying in a hotel or local lodging accommodation in Lisbon became more expensive as of the first of the year due to the increase in the Municipal Tourist Tax from one to two Euros. The local municipality estimates additional revenues from the measure of ±_35 million in 2019.
An increasing number of accommodations under Local Lodging (“AL”) are in the hands of third-party administration. In Lisbon and Porto, only 4 out of every 10 units registered in this tourist activity are handled directly by the owner.