Forced rental of empty properties unconstitutional
A controversial government plan to force the owners of empty properties to rent them out in a bid to solve Portugal’s chronic housing shortage could be ruled unconstitutional.
The State says it will give a window of time to property owners to either use or rent out their empty properties, but that the properties will only be rented out if they continue to remain empty.
So far, the Ministry of Housing has not said what that time limit will be before landlords are forced to rent out their properties. In such cases it will be the State or the municipal council to rent out the property — if the owners do not act — and pay them the rent which will be guaranteed if the tenant defaults on their contract responsibilities for three months of more.
The empty properties that are put on the market will be subject to a rental cap, although the forced landlords will be able to claim tax benefits, won’t have to pay IRS income tax on the rental revenues, with the exception of holiday homes or properties for immigrants.
If the property is unoccupied for a year and without any electricity or water contract it will be considered empty and appropriated for rent in the public interest.
The owners may contact the Housing and Urban Rehabilitation Institute to reach an agreement on rental issues.
However, the Portuguese Association of Property Owners (APPROP), and Lisbon Association of Property Owners (ALP) believe that the measure is unconstitutional. They are likely to join owners of Local Accommodation properties in a protest rally in Lisbon on March 1.
The maximum subsidy given to tenant in extraordinary circumstances will be €200 per month for a period of five years. The amount will be reduced at the end of the first year.
Image: Liam Mckay, Unsplash.