Portuguese need affordable housing now says developers’ association boss

 In APPII, Build-to-Rent, Housing, News, Property

The Portuguese cannot wait four years for affordable housing according to the President of the Portuguese Association of Real Estate Developers and Investors (APPII), Hugo Santos Ferreira.

Speaking about Portugal’s affordable housing crisis, particularly in Lisbon and Porto, Santos Ferreira said that the Portuguese were “living a housing emergency climate” and called for the introduction of urgent measures, including reducing VAT on construction to 6%, and slashing Portugal’s “punishing” tax burden.

“The Portuguese cannot wait another four years for decent housing at prices that they can afford to pay” he said at the Real Estate Development Conference (COPIP) which took place on Tuesday in Lisbon.

Santos Ferreira said that the Portuguese were continuing to live in a climate of housing emergency at a time when (affordable new build) construction rates continue to fall year-on-year, decade-on-decade.

“In 2022 our housing stock grew 0.48%. Five decades later will still have the same housing problem to solve”, he said, adding that the crisis in affordable housing was linked to several problems such as (low) salaries, mobility in the metropolitan areas, Portugal’s heavy tax burden, and a lack of offer.

The APPII president says that the key to resolving the situation and the crisis of confidence that investors have in building new affordable housing projects is for the government to create concrete measures with an ambitious commitment to new build.

Hugo Santos Ferreira highlights five measures that should be immediately implemented: reducing tax on new build. This means reworking the taxes applicable on developers projects, reducing VAT on affordable new build and/or tax deductions on the same, an end to taxes on first transactions, as well as ending what he calls “the most stupid tax in the world” or AIMI – an additional tax charged by municipalities on property owners whose properties are worth over €600 million, and is levied on private individuals and companies and involves housing blocks, building land and inherited land or property that has not yet been divided among beneficiaries.

The APPII also calls for the immediate implementation of Urban Simplex, a new measure to cut out red tape, speed up planning permissions and the evaluation of planning processes, and cut out a number of different processes and the paperwork involved involving different municipal departments and other agencies.

One of its most important innovations is that you can now buy a house without presenting a Licence of Use. It also aims to reduce ancillary procedures in urban planning to simplify transactions and streamline company operations.

Hugo Santos Ferreira also calls for public-owned land that is lying fallow to be immediately earmarked and made available for more large-scale housing construction, and the creation of a more favourable environment for the rental and Build to Rent market.