Most of our clients first look for a rental in Portugal when they are thinking of moving here. And this is a good idea because it allows them to understand the country, to know if they like it for everyday life. It also allows you to start with the administrative formalities and to integrate in Portugal. So it’s an excellent solution! But …
Is it true that it is difficult to find a rental in Portugal?
Yes it is, at least from a distance on the Internet. On the real estate websites, we only see seasonal sales or rentals and they are rather expensive. It seems that there is nothing to rent for long periods of time. This is discouraging. But if there are real reasons for this apparent shortage, there are possible solutions and it is possible to find year-round rentals in Portugal.
Why are there no rentals in Portugal?
This title is a bit of an exaggeration as I will show you that it is quite possible to find one but it is true that it is not easy.
First of all, there were laws that protected tenants too much by blocking rents, so landlords became discouraged and gave up renting, leaving the buildings to deteriorate, especially in the old districts of Lisbon and Porto. Until 1990, the characteristic of Portuguese leases was to be eternal and hereditary. With this kind of symbolic rent, it is difficult to require the landlord to carry out works.
“The consequence of the rent freeze is that property yields were gradually eaten away by inflation. Landlords no longer have the funds to keep the buildings in good condition,” confirms Pedro Sarraga-Leal, a Lisbon-based lawyer specialising in property law. This is the reason for the deplorable state of Lisbon’s old housing stock. “These two problems – not being able to update rents and not being able to evict tenants – created a kind of trauma for landlords.
This has changed but the transition is difficult. Antonio Machado, director of the Lisbon Tenants’ Association, echoes these fears in a country where the minimum wage is €485: “If the rental market is fully liberalised, some people will see their rent rise from €30 to €500. They might shoot their landlord with a gun!”
The change of law for renting in Portugal
The Portuguese government has proposed a new law on Real Estate Renting in Portugal, the main objective of which is to boost the market. In 2012, the implementation of the “Nova lei do arrendamento urbano” (the new urban tenancy law) came to ease the constraints of property rental.
Beyond the numerous legal changes concerning, for example, increases in old rents or the possibility of passing on a rental contract to one’s descendants, what are the important differences for an expatriate looking to rent?
There is no longer a minimum duration but there is no standard contract. It is possible to set an end date for the lease but even if there is no end date, each lease has a minimum duration of five years and is automatically renewable for a further three years. The security deposit can be up to three months’ rent excluding charges. And often a deposit is required as in France.
If the rent is not paid for three months, the contract is terminated. Even delays of more than 8 days several times in a row can lead to a breach of contract. So everything is more severe and regulated.
Beyond the laws
So the laws have changed and renting in Portugal is liberating and growing. The city centres of Lisbon and Porto bear witness to this, with a large number of dilapidated dwellings being rehabilitated. This is certainly a good thing, but it also breaks up the neighbourhoods and drives out the working classes and the charm of these lively districts. This is the normal evolution, but there are also bad effects.
For example, many Rbnb flats are taking the place of the poorest. Property prices are going up without even the wealthiest people from Lisbon being able to replace the poorer classes. It is the tourists who are taking the place.
Here too there is good and bad, since the tourist activity provides a living for many people but also creates a shortage of housing in the city.
How to find a rental in Portugal?
I won’t talk about Lisbon or Porto. First of all, even if I rented for a year in Lisbon, I found it through direct knowledge and secondly, I don’t know this very difficult market because of Rbnb in particular. At least in the central areas.
In the smaller towns in the centre, even in the countryside ALL MY VISITORS found their rentals. But by coming to the place! The agencies don’t publish anything but when you push the door, they give you one or more available rentals. To visit immediately and if you have already made (with us if necessary) your NIF and have a Bank Account in Portugal, you can catch very quickly what presents itself.
You don’t necessarily need to visit a lot but concentrate on the places you like and be daring. We now have Portuguese people who can take you to these agencies and show you around, and even help you negotiate (guarantees and deposits for example).
This is THE solution and it works without problems, I guarantee it in our Centre and North Portugal.
It’s still very, very affordable.
- Flat on the sea front in Figueira da Foz at 250 to 450 Euros per month.
- A very nice little house with all the comforts and garden near Coimbra at 450 Euros per month.
You can find very well in these prices in the cities and in the countryside and even in places already well frequented. It takes a little energy, preparation to grab the bargains and coming to the place without preconceived ideas. As much as visiting websites gives interesting ideas for buying and allows you to make appointments, as much as for renting there is only direct visit that works.