As compared to hotels, “AL” already has twice the capacity to receive tourists in Lisbon. In the nation’s capital which has 500,000 inhabitants, Local Lodging can accommodate 102,000 holidaymakers. In March 2019, there were 18,000 “AL” units in the municipality of Lisbon, an increase of around 80% from 2008, maintaining the trend of accelerated growth of previous years. Of the 18,000 accommodations, 90% are short-term holiday let apartments (notably commercialised through Airbnb), with 9% being hostels, while hotels can accommodate less than 50,000 travellers. Since 2001, the data reveals that Lisbon has been losing inhabitants while tourist demand has been steadily increasing. In 2011, the city received 2.9 million guests. By 2017, demand almost doubled to 5.2 million (+ 83%), which represents a nearly quarter of the total holidaymaker demand received nationwide.
Question: I have a local lodging unit that I have only been able to let during the high season. Now I have a potential tenant who wishes to rent the apartment for this eight-month period, from October to May. Can I do this by concluding a contract for the period and then move forward with weekly and biweekly lets in the summer?
Yes, such a hybrid solution is possible. You will need to make a rental contract, defining the duration of the agreement as well as delimit other conditions. In essence, this arrangement is compatible with your proposed summer “AL” activity. However, you will not be able to deduct expenses as you would with a conventional long-term lease.
Since the Local Lodging boom began in 2008, small property owners are returning in increasing numbers to traditional long-term rentals. Numerous factors are pushing this trend. “AL” offerings have reached glut conditions in some central urban areas. Excessive offerings and limited demand push down prices. Over the last ten years, Local Lodging enrolments in Lisbon have soared from less than 3,000 to almost 50,000. In addition, Local Lodging can prove to be demanding work. Outsourcing tasks such as cleaning, marketing and maintenance can eat into profits. In contrast, long-term rentals require only a minimum involvement on the part of landlords.
Inspections and audits of aquatic facilities in tourist resorts continue to be lacking more than a year after the latest legislation was passed. In question is Law 61/2017 of August 01 which exempted resorts from contracting lifeguards for their pools. According to this legislation, the presence of a lifeguard became optional, provided that permanent supervision was in place, secured by a duly identified technician with first aid training. According to the National Tourist Registry, there are currently 4,426 resorts registered in Portugal. “AL” units outnumber these registrations by almost 20 fold. Despite the disparity, the rules for tourist developments continue not to apply to Local Lodging Accommodations.
The withdrawal of a property from a Local Lodging tourist activity was already potentially subject to capital gains assessment under previous legislation. However, the way the law was drafted left room for doubt as to the exact point that the tax would be due. In the 2018 State Budget, this doubt was clarified, making it unambiguous that there is deferred payment of capital gains tax when the property is further assigned on an ongoing basis to income from category F (long-term rental). Without this abeyance, a Capital Gain may be attained in the year of cessation of the business assignment. Regardless, reporting is done in your annual “IRS” return.
The number of new Local Accommodation (“AL”) registrations in the municipality of Oporto fell by 40% in the first quarter of 2019 as compared to the same period last year. The City does not manifest the need to implement “AL” containment measures as has happened in Lisbon, considering that tourism in Porto continues to grow and is in good health.
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.
Attentive to Local Lodging activities, the tax man is tightening its grip on owners who fail to report and pay their taxes. Online platforms may soon be required to share information on customers, according to the Jornal de Notícias. The aim of the Portuguese Revenue is to avoid fraud and tax evasion. To this end, the ministry is studying ways to force the holiday letting reservation platforms to report “AL” operator data to Finanças.
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.
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.