The Government has created an innovative solution, which it calls the Right to Lifetime Housing, which allows families to live in a property all their lives, without actually buying it. The plan begins with the payment of a deposit (a kind of down payment), which is held by the owner. In this scheme, the resident (who cannot be called a “tenant”) pays a monthly instalment (which cannot be referred to as “rent”). The owner receives the monthly income and “consumes” a portion of the initial deposit. In this model, without formally selling the property, the property rights remain limited, since only the resident can suspend the contract and vacate the dwelling.
One of the flagship measures of the upcoming 2019 State Budget is intended to encourage emigrants to return to Portugal by granting a 50% discount on their “IRS” over the following 3 to 5 years. In addition, the proposal allows for deductions of associated expenses, such as the cost of the return trip and housing expenses. As part of a package of incentives targeting the relocation of young professionals back to Portugal, the proposal will embrace all those who left the country by 2015 and returning in 2019 or 2020.
The Secretary of State for Tourism, Ana Mendes Godinho, announced in a parliament hearing on the subject: “I do not agree that many people have been expelled by Local Lodging. Instead, it has served to rehabilitate our inner cities. We have to manage the evolution of Local Lodging in order to ensure that the cities retain their authenticity. This is not only a concern of tourism but for everyone, including guaranteeing the right to housing.”
Prime Minister António Costa declared: “We do not have an excess of Local Lodging. We have a lack of affordable housing.” The Government presented its “New Generation of Housing Policies” (NGPH), which includes various measures to stimulate urban rental and rehabilitation. Beyond contributions from the state, the goal is to create incentives for private individuals to place their properties with an affordable lease.”
There are establishments designated as Local Lodging with standard residential housing permits but which are in reality “genuine hotels”. According to Urbanism Councilman Manuel Salgado, “giving residential housing and Local Lodging the same licensing status is detrimental to the city.” “Real Local Lodging is when the owner lives at home, sharing with holidaymakers. This form of tourist accommodation deserves protection”, stated the Lisbon alderman.
The creation of a Porto Municipal Tourist Tax, which might reach two euros per night, is designed to solve housing problems and omits improvements in the tourism sector, claims the Hospitality Association of Portugal. The City Council explained, “the proceeds of this levy are to be applied in projects aimed at promoting housing for the middle and lower middle class in the historic centre to accelerate the repopulation and curb pressures from real estate development.
Lisbon has experienced the greatest decline in the number of young adults within Portugal in recent years. One factor contributing to the drop is the difficulty in finding affordable housing. In 2012, the median rent in Lisbon was €268, according to INE (“Instituto Nacional de Estadística”). In 2016, the average climbed to €830.
But high rent is only part of the problem. The ageing of the population is at the root of the decrease. In 1991, Lisbon had 138 seniors for every 100 young people (from 0 to 14 years old). By 2016, the number of elderly rose to 182, a proportional increase of 24%, making Lisbon the oldest council in the nation. Provisional population estimates advanced by INE indicate that the number of young people aged between 20 and 34 living in Lisbon went down from 95,830 in 2011 to 67,916 in 2016, a net loss of 29%.
There are more houses being sold today but high prices in central urban areas are pushing buyers out to the suburbs. Simultaneously, rentals are in decline. Letting accounted for 60% of real estate activity at the height of the crisis but has fallen sharply in the last two years. In 2016, lets accounted for just 25% of housing turnovers.