The Government is studying incentives for migrating short-term local lodging to affordable long-term leases. It is not yet known how the Government plans to accomplish this objective. It may become possible to change the fiscal regime that requires the payment of capital gains when the property is no longer assigned to a professional activity and returns to the sphere of the owner.
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.
In the first six months of 2019, new lease agreements were 9.2% more expensive as compared to the same period last year. The price per square metre went from €4.80 to €5.00 in the first semester. At the same time, fewer families were able to find long-term rental accommodation. Data published by the National Institute of Statistics (INE) reveal that the number of new contracts fell by 10.5%.
The Affordable Rental Programme has been launched to enhance the supply of long-term residential housing at controlled prices. The initiative targets accommodations for individuals and middle-income families who now have difficulty in finding affordable flats, taking into account the inflated prices currently being practised in the marketplace. The premise is to create a win-win situation for all parties. Tenants should be able to find suitable housing at lower prices. Landlords can advantage of the new tax breaks that have been created for the new rental income they receive. Continue reading
New legislation stipulates that the minimum period for long-term rental agreements is one year and renewable for three years. According to the decree, “SIMA” (“Serviço de Injunção em Matéria de Arrendamento” – Lease Injunction Service) will be created to strengthen tenants’ rights, namely for the reimbursement of improvements incurred by tenants.
The Vila Nova de Gaia Municipal Council has passed regulations to limit Local Lodging establishments and prevent the dislocation of long-term residents from historic neighbourhoods. The city centre and the entrance to the bridge D. Luís I are two of the target areas for the new restrictions. These measures follow on the heels of similar actions taken in Lisbon and other municipalities around the country.
New legislation stipulates that the minimum period for long-term rental agreements is one year and renewable for three years. According to the decree, “SIMA” (“Serviço de Injunção em Matéria de Arrendamento” – Lease Injunction Service) will be created to strengthen tenants’ rights, namely for the reimbursement of improvements incurred by tenants. The legislation also assures the continuation of the National Rental Office (BNA), which has exclusive jurisdiction to deal with procedures for evictions.
Local Lodging operators who opt to be assessed under the tax rules of Category F (long-term rentals) may deduct commissions from this income paid to online reservation platforms. However, those carrying out their tourist business under Category B as Sole Traders do not deduct specific expenses but rather are automatically allotted 65% from their gross “AL” income to cover operating expenses.
After the hubbub of the summer, many Local Lodging owners wish to book long-term rentals to assure low-season occupancy over the quieter winter months. As always, there are pros and cons, particularly when distinguishing between long and short term lets is not always easy.
Reporting Long-Term Rentals
Under current legislation, bureaucracy has mushroomed in recent years for long-term rentals:
- a) Registration of Rental Contract – Mandatory Rental Contracts must be reported via Modelo 2. This form identifies the parties, the property, the price and the terms of the agreement.
- b) Stamp Duty – Stamp Duty is due on the rental contract at the rate of 10% of one month’s income. Every time there is a change in the contract, Stamp Duty must be paid again so automatic renewals, if appropriate, should be included in the original contract to avoid repetitive payment of tax.
- c) On-going Electronic Rental Receipts – Similar to Electronic Green Receipts, Electronic Rent Receipts must be issued in Portuguese in duplicate on a monthly basis via the Finanças Copies are issued to the tenant with a second copy retained for the landlord’s records.
- d) Annual Rental income summary – In the following January, landlords must declare an annual summary of rents received via Model 44.
- e) “IRS” Declaration – An annual personal income tax declaration will necessitate completion of Annex F. All claimed deductible expenses must be accompanied by original invoices that include both the name of the landlord and the corresponding tax number.
- f) VAT – On the positive side, long-term rentals are VAT exempt and require no VAT reporting, potentially saving time and money.
As a tourist accommodation, a Local Lodging unit must: a) be a furnished and equipped facility, b) be available to the general public, c) meet specific health and safety standards and d) limit stays to less than 30 days.
However, there is nothing improper about a guest checking out after a month, then checking back in for another 30-day period. If this procedure is adopted, the owner can continue the “AL” operation on a year-round basis, avoiding the additional bureaucracy associated with Category F. In addition, the on-going use of the property under Local Lodging avoids the overlap and potential contradictions of property usage in two distinct business categories within the same fiscal year.
Beyond Stamp Duty and VAT, the income tax calculation for each activity is substantially different. In Portugal, rental income is taxed residentially under Category F (Income from Immoveable Property) while Local Lodging is assessed commercially under Category B (Business Income).
For a Local Lodging activity, most owners are assessed under the “Simplified Regime” where they receive a flat exemption of 65% on gross income. Residents then add the remaining 35% to other taxable forms of income and are assessed at marginal rates. Non-Residents have the standard levy of 25%, leaving a final tax to pay of 8.75% of gross business income.
Under Category F (long-term rentals), Non-Residents are taxed at a flat 25%. Residents may elect to be assessed autonomously at a flat 28% or aggregate this income with other sources and be taxed at marginal rates.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” answer. Some owners will find rolling over a one-month winter “AL” let to be a straightforward solution. Others will be willing to endure the doubled-up bureaucracy of opening a new winter long-term lease as a solution that merits the extra time and effort. Faced with a difficult choice, professional guidance is always the order-of-the-day.
Owners who remove their properties from Local Lodging and make them available for long-term letting can be spared mandatory CGT assessment. This push to long-term letting integrates the government’s package of proposals in the 2018 State Budget. Once confirmed, this measure will be the only Capital Gains Tax refuge once an owner stops an “AL” activity.