Portugal’s Basic Housing Law enters into effect

  • ECO News
  • 1 October 2019

The Basic Housing Law promises to bring changes in the lives of landlords and tenants.

This Tuesday, the Basic Housing Law enter into effect, after it was promulgated by the President of the Republic on August 6. From new subsidies, to measures of protection against eviction and supervision of condominiums, there are many novelties that now become a reality with this Basic Law on housing.

Rehabilitation of public buildings

The Basic Law of Housing provides that the State should promote the use of public housing that is vacant, but also encourage the use of private housing that are in the same situation, especially in central areas.

The document also says that the State should put public property in programs aimed at leasing, promoting access to housing with rents compatible with the income of families.

Uninhabited houses will be considered vacant

The law says that dwellings that are “unjustified and continuously” without housing use, “for reasons imputable to the owner”, will be considered vacant and the owners themselves may incur fines. Outside these situations are second homes, emigrants’ homes and those of people displaced for professional or health reasons.

Inheritance processes will be accelerated by the State

the Basic Law on Housing says that the State should speed up “the inventory and judicial processes of undivided inheritances that include real estate with housing aptitude”.

Limits on the evictions of tenants and the seizure of owners

The evictions are still a problem. Last year, 3,619 eviction requests entered the National Lease Counter (BNA) and, of these, 980 were granted, reveal the data sent by the Ministry of Justice to the ECO. These numbers represent an average of 82 evictions per month and, although these indicators have been falling for two years, they continue to be a concern for many families.

In this sense, the Basic Law on Housing provides that tenants cannot be evicted at night – except in the event of an emergency – nor without a re-housing solution having first been defined.

On the side of the seizures, the highlight is the owners, who end up being more protected. The document provides that, when it comes to seizing a dwelling, the seizure cannot happen “to satisfy tax or contributory credits” when it comes to the family home.

Delivery of the house to the bank will be able to pay off debt

One of the main novelties of the Basic Law on Housing is the debt repayment to the banks. That is, in the case of housing loans, it is possible to deliver the house to the bank, settling the debt.

However, this can only happen if it is “contractually established” and it should be the bank that gives this information before the contract is concluded. Another situation is when mortgage borrowers are in a “very difficult economic situation” and an “extraordinary legal protection regime” may apply to them.