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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.
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.
Local Lodging is not the only type of tourist facility to grow in 2017. Hotels, aparthotels and rural hotels as well as tourist villages, apartments and inns also displayed dynamic results with more new units opening and record occupancy rates last year. In the case of “AL”, the majority of the increase is due to registrations of pre-existing units.
In June of 2018, 68,310 Local Lodging registrations exist as compared to 23,136 in 2015, an increase of almost 300% in three years. Over the same period, tax revenues have more than doubled. 73% of “AL” accommodations are outside Lisbon and Porto, with over a third in the Algarve.
The Secretary of State for Tourism, Ana Mendes Godinho, announced that currently there are 59,000 Local Lodging registrations whereas of December 2015 the total was 28,000. She attributed the increase in large part to the legal obligation of digital platforms to display formal enrolments.
Some local lodging operators have been detected listing fraudulent registration numbers over the internet. Since 01 July, online platforms are required to display this code when promoting an “AL” property. The absence of a license draws fines of €3,740.98 for individuals and €35,000 for companies. Fraud is punishable by imprisonment.
Beginning 01 July 2017, any website advertising local accommodations in Portugal must display the corresponding AL registration number. Failure to do so will lead to fines from a minimum of €125 to maximum of €32,500 as mandated in Decree-law nº80/2017.
Lisbon and Porto saw the number of properties registered in the local housing increase by 3,400 and 1,300 respectively in 2016. In a new trend, the largest growth took place outside of the historical neighborhoods, where the supply doubled. Lisbon closed 2016 with 6,800 registrations, twice as many as it had in 2015. Of the 13,000 new registrations nationwide, many were due to legalization of irregular situations that already existed rather than brand-new offerings.
Excess competition coupled with controversies surrounding Local Lodging are beginning to affect prices and occupancy rates. While registrations were still up in 2016, the pace has diminished substantially which slowed from 200% in 2015 to just 8% last year.
There are currently registered 26,000 Local Lodging offerings in Portugal. Lisbon is the most popular city with 4,500 and O Porto with 1,725. The Island of Madeira currently counts over 1,000 registrations. The national total represents approximately 130,000 beds compared to 235,000 beds in hotels.