As prescribed by Law-Decree 89/2021, approved by Law 83/2019, regulating the basic housing laws in Portugal (Lei de Bases da Habitação)
Researched by Romy Gaisbichler, Niamh Hannah and Iona Henderson
What rights do I have under the 2019 Basic Housing Law?
The 2019 Basic Housing Law (Lei de Bases da Habitação) established a number of rights for Portuguese citizens and deals with various problems relating to housing. It creates a right to housing and creates protections against evictions.
The housing law has created a right to alternative housing for people who:
Do not have a home OR
Are at real risk of losing their home AND
Do not have alternative housing
The housing law has created a right for tenants to file a criminal complaint of harassment against their landlord. Actions will be deemed harassment if the landlord is:
Disturbing, embarrassing, or affecting the dignity of a renter AND/OR
Subjecting the tenants to a hostile, dangerous and/or offensive environment AND/OR
Preventing access to and enjoyment of the property
If your landlord is treating you in such a way then you have a right to file a criminal complaint against them as, under the law, they are harassing you.
Furthermore, the law has established positive duties on the Portuguese government and related bodies. If the government or related bodies cannot find an individual adequate housing alternative, they should be referred to a ‘public permanent housing solution.’ A referral can be made either by the municipality or Instituto da Habitação e da Reabilitação Urbana (IHRU).
Someone is eligible for referral if they have a valid residence permit and live in either:
(a) Unsuitable conditions. Including -
(ii) Domestic violence
(iii) Lack of accessibility to the property
(b) Financial need
Who is eligible to rent?
Anyone who wishes to sign a lease has a right to rent and be a tenant. This is regardless of:
ancestry or ethnic origin
territory of origin
political or ideological convictions
What documents are required to sign a rental agreement?
In order to sign a rental agreement, you MUST have:
A Portuguese fiscal contribution number (Número de Identificação Fiscal, NIF). If you don’t have one then you can apply for one at a local Tax Authority office (Autoridade Tributária) by booking a face-to-face appointment
A residence permit
Identification documents - these can be government-issued identity cards (such as the Portuguese Citizen Card), driver’s licences, and passports. If you use your passport, you must also show your entry visa for Portugal or the Schengen area.
What should a rental agreement consist of?
Rental agreements must be in writing - this is required by law and gives tenants optimal protection.
Landlords who rent out properties without a contract will commit the offence of tax evasion. If the landlord insists on not making the contract and not issuing rent receipts, their non-compliance must be communicated to the Autoridade Tributária through a complaint at the Tax Office (Finanças).
If a landlord increases rent, a tenant without a written contract will not have proof of the originally agreed amount. Therefore you should always pay by bank transfer or cheque if possible.
In the absence of contrary provisions in the rental agreement, laws relating to the update of rent value will apply - Law 6/2006 defines the update of rent value according to the inflation rate.
The landlord is responsible for registering the lease agreement before the Tax Authorities; this is mandatory. Registration can be done online here. An alteration of a lease agreement or the termination of a lease agreement must also be registered online. Tenants should ask for a copy certified by the Finance Department and this should be done by the end of the first month of the beginning of the lease; it’s free of charge and done electronically.
You must collect proof of payment of rents (e.g. bank transfers) and/or messages that prove that there is a contractual relationship between tenant and landlord. This way you can prove that there is a verbal tenancy agreement, even if it is not written, which gives rise to rights that you can invoke in court.
Rental contracts without a specified duration are presumed to be entered into for a period of 5 years.
What if my landlord refuses to do something?
Landlords are expected to take action when requested by the tenant to correct problems in the rental agreement or repair problems that are a serious risk to the health or safety of the tenants.
Landlords are also expected to fix situations that prevent enjoyment of the rental property that the tenant informs them of, such as no access to water, electricity, gas or sewage networks.
You can ask the Municipal Council to carry out an inspection of the property. The inspection must be done within 20 days.
Once the Council has advised the landlord of any issues found during the inspection, the landlord must demonstrate how they will remedy the issue. This must be done within 30-days of the landlord being notified by the Council.
Rent subsidy is financial support provided by the government for the purpose of helping with the cost of rent.
Rent subsidies are available for youth tenants in vulnerable situations who are protected under the urban lease. Youth tenants are those under 18. Rent subsidies are also available for single parent families and large families who are economically vulnerable.
Subsidies may also be given to help people who have been proven to be in a vulnerable situation and are facing temporary or imminent housing shortage. People in vulnerable situations include those who are homeless, victims of domestic violence, or victims of discrimination.
The right to subsidies will not be revoked due to a change of place of residence as long as the criteria above is still met.
What is eviction?
Eviction occurs when someone is removed from their current residence. Eviction can happen both legally and illegally and it is important to know the difference in both circumstances.
Eviction is legal when:
a property is occupied in an illegal or unduly manner
Eviction can take place when a property is occupied in an illegal or unduly manner, and it is decided by the law what is to be considered illegal or unduly occupation
Anyone who comes under the category of an illegal or unduly occupant is entitled to information services and legal aid as well as support from public services to find re-housing solutions and a reasonable notice period
Where a person is being threatened with eviction, they are entitled to speak to those affected by their occupation in order to try to find an alternative solution to eviction (such as rent subsidy, consultation, or legal aid)
When is eviction illegal?
It is important to remember that even if there is no written tenancy agreement, you cannot be evicted without a court order.
Eviction from permanent housing cannot take place at night except in cases of emergency, such as a fire.
The Portuguese authorities will not promote the eviction of a vulnerable group without first ensuring that rehousing solutions are in place.
Where a person is being threatened with eviction, they are entitled to speak to those affected by their occupation in order to try to find an alternative solution to eviction.
What if your landlord is selling the property that you live in?
If your landlord is selling the property that you rent, this does not mean that you will automatically be evicted. There are a number of ways that you can stay in the property where you live, such as:
If you have been living in the property for 2 years or more, then you will have the right of first preference. This means that you will be given the opportunity to buy the property before anyone else does.
If you choose not to buy the property, then your lease will automatically be transferred with the ownership of the property. The new owner will therefore become your landlord.
This table contains a list of organisations which can be contacted and their respective specialities in order to provide help where and when it is needed.
WHAT CAN THEY HELP WITH ?
Offer support & solutions if you are unable to afford a dignified housing solution.
Porta de Entrada (Entrance Door)
Immediate accommodation support due to loss or imminent loss of residence.
Affordable Rental Programme
Provides a list of accommodation below the average market value rent
Porta 65 Jovem Programme
Provides access to a monthly subsidiary for young people’s rent.
Portal da Habitação (Housing Portal)
Link to application: https://eaa.portaldahabitacao.pt/web/eaa/autenticacao
Provides a platform to access Social housing.
Address: Sirigata - Rua dos Anjos 12F, Lisboa
They have a section on their website dedicated to commonly asked questions (https://habita.info/perguntas-frequentes/).
They also have open door sessions on Mondays for help with rent, eviction, and landlord problems.
Linha É Habitação!
Number: 800 919 075
Municipal assistance for problems with private rental agreements. The line is available from 9am to 5:30pm from Monday to Friday.
Cruz Vermelha Portuguesa Contact Centre (Portuguese Red Cross)
Number: 213 913 900
Red Cross helps migrants and refugees adjust to life in Portugal. The phone number and email offer support for urgent or emergency situations.
FOOTNOTES:  Artigo 13.º - Lei n.º 83/2019  Lei n.º 12/2019  Artigo 24.º - Lei n.º 6/2006  Portaria n.º 98-A/2015  Artigo 13.º (2) - Lei n.º 83/2019  Artigo 13.º (6)(b) - Lei n.º 83/2019