Owners of vacant homes to have 100 days before state takes over

  • Lusa
  • 6 March 2023

"Properties for housing-use classified as vacant" under the law "may be subject to forced lease by municipalities, for subsequent sub-lease under public housing programmes".

Owners of vacant houses in habitable condition have 100 days to use or rent them before the process of forced lease begins, according to a government proposal.

In the proposal published on Friday, Article 15 provides that “properties for housing-use classified as vacant” under the law “may be subject to forced lease by municipalities, for subsequent sub-lease under public housing programmes”.

According to the text, it is up to the municipalities to present a lease proposal to the owner of the vacant house, who has 10 days to respond, said the draft legislation of the program “More Housing”, published on Friday evening on www.consultalex.gov.pt.

After 90 days, and if the owner rejects the suggestion or does not respond and the property remains vacant, the municipalities can then proceed “to the forced lease of the property, under the terms provided for” the Legal Regime of Urbanization and Building (RJUE), “with the necessary adaptations.

The government’s proposal does not consider vacant, as already announced, “second homes, homes of emigrants or homes of people displaced for professional reasons, training or health”, or those in which “duly authorized or communicated works are being carried out, during the periods defined for them, or the pendency of legal actions that prevent this use.

According to article 15, if the properties are not habitable, “the municipalities may compulsorily execute the works necessary to correct bad safety or health conditions, as well as habitability conditions”.

The proposal foresees  that “the compensation [is] carried out on account of the rents due”.

The ministry of housing provides, in the diploma, that the “forced lease” is “carried out preferentially on properties that meet habitability conditions that allow their immediate lease”.

The forced lease was one of the most controversial aspects of the housing package the government presented, with several parties, on the right and landlord associations attacking the measure for being unconstitutional for alleged violation of the right to property.

Other exception cases are properties that are “acquired for resale by individuals or legal entities” or that “integrate a tourist resort or are registered as local accommodation establishment”, according to the text.

The “More Housing” Programme provides, among other measures, for more land to be made available for housing construction, incentives for construction by private individuals or tax incentives for owners to put houses on the rental market.

The measures that aim to stimulate the rental market, as well as speeding up and providing incentives for construction, including the end of golden visas, the state replacing the tenant and paying rent after three months of default, the obligation for banks to offer a fixed rate on housing credit or exemption from capital gains for families that sell houses to pay off their mortgage.

The measures of the More Housing Programme will cost around €900 million and are under public consultation until 10 March.