Portugal passes accessible rent law
Portugal has passed a new law to limit the impact of sky-high rents and control gentrification in Lisbon and Porto.
The bill passed this month by the Portuguese parliament with the help of the left-wing parties creates a legal framework for housing to be seen as a right with the government now responsible for ensuring adequate housing for all citizens.
With the aim of eradicating homelessness, the Basic Housing Law forces municipal councils to use public building and housing stock for affordable housing while prohibiting tenant evictions until the Council or the State can provide substitute housing in similar nearby properties.
Under the terms of the law, which legislators say is a roadmap for future housing policy, the Government will need to present a first-ever national housing policy for housing to the Portuguese Parliament by 2020.
Under the terms of the new framework, the elderly, young people, the disabled and families with young children will be protected.
Furthermore, tenants, individuals and entire neighbourhoods will be able to lodge complaints on a whole raft of issues including housing quality, ongoing construction and proposed developments after rents have soared and house prices have skyrocketed thanks to Lisbon and Porto’s tourism boom in 2017 and 2018.
The bill was the brainchild of long-standing Lisbon councillor and parliamentary deputy Helena Roseta with the support of the PS Socialist Party, the Portuguese Communist Party and the Bloco Esquerda (Left Bloc).
“This victory is very important to me,” Roseta told CityLab, an online magazine that focuses on telling the stories of the world’s cities.
“It is the end result of my entire career. There are general laws for health, education and social security, but there never was (until now) a law for housing — we must treat it as a social right, as we have with these others.”