Rent in Portugal

How to rent an apartment in Portugal

At first glance, the Portuguese housing market can be difficult to understand. Especially when you are looking for property in Portugal for the first time, the names of the different apartments can be confusing. You can always find apartment advertisements with the note "T - and one digit." The T stands for tipo and refers to the number of bedrooms. The living room is not mentioned here. So if you find an ad with the note T0 it means that it is a one-bedroom apartment with a kitchen and bathroom. T1 stands for an apartment with a living room and a bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom. T2 stands for an apartment with a living room, two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom. Accordingly, T3 has three bedrooms. If the display shows "plus 1", this means that there is another extra room that often has no window.


Many apartments are rented through contacts from friends or neighbors and do not even appear in the housing market. If you do not know anyone who can recommend an apartment to you or who suggests you to the landlord, it is advisable to hire a broker. A lease is treated as a thing between two parties, namely between the tenant and the landlord. Many Portuguese landlords do not want to report their rental income to the tax office. Therefore, there are often no official recibos (receipts) so that you do not have to state the rental income in your tax return. Some landlords even have the rent paid out in cash. In both cases, it is still recommended to request a receipt so that you have confirmation of your rental payment. However, if there is no receipt from the landlord, you can try to negotiate the rent a little more as many Portuguese are very reasonable. However, the disadvantage for you as a tenant is that you cannot claim your paid rent in your tax return without a receipt.


Many landlords mention when concluding the contract that the first and last rent can be "shaken off." This sounds a bit strange at first, but in Portugal, landlords often use the deposit as either the first or last rent of the contract. The first deposit is a confirmation that you really want to move in and for this confirmation you will be living rent-free for the first month. If the lease ends, the same applies here. The last deposit or the open amount of the deposit will be offset with your last rent. However, get a receipt for the deposit, so that it will really be settled correctly at the end of your contract. Landlords often ask for two or three monthly rents as a deposit.


If the landlord wants to offset the first and second month's rent with you when moving in and out, he can keep the third for any damage that has been caused in the apartment. In Portugal, landlords rarely offer rents that include all bills. The additional costs are usually not counted towards the rent. If you see a certain rental price, you can generally assume that bills are not yet included.

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The rental market in Portugal

The rental market in Portugal is quite big. It is no longer just emigrants or locals who are looking for suitable properties to rent, also amongst tourists renting apartments has become very popular. Therefore, the demand for housing is high all over Portugal. In many regions, rental prices rise and fall depending on the season. In the summer months, rents are often higher due to the high volume of tourists visiting the country, but they fall again during the winter months. If you are looking for a suitable property for a more extended period, it is advisable to only search after the high season. Basically, like in any other country, some regions are much cheaper than others. Lisbon is the most expensive region in Portugal. Rents can also be a little higher on the coasts of Portugal. Inland, the prices per square meter are a lot cheaper.


What are the most important aspects of Portuguese tenancy law?

When it comes to the Portuguese tenancy law, a distinction is made primarily between temporary and permanent leases. In the case of a limited contract, the rental period can be between five and 30 years. In the case of rental objects that are not used as accommodation for the whole year, such as holiday homes, the rental period may also be less than three years. If the contractually agreed rental period expires and neither of the two parties terminates the contract on time, the tenancy is automatically extended by the same time as the previous contract. It is essential to know that landlords and tenants have different opposition periods.


The landlord must object to an extension one year before the lease expires. As a tenant, you only have to observe 120 days, i.e., three months. The agreement can, of course, be terminated at any time with mutual consent. If only one side wishes to terminate the contract, there are two options: the ordinary termination (denúncia) and extraordinary termination (resolução). As a tenant, you can only terminate a limited lease with a 120 days' notice, without giving a reason. The landlord cannot terminate the rental contract, but can only prevent an automatic contract extension by a timely objection. In the case of unlimited leases, you can also terminate them with a notice period of 120 days. However, this can even be terminated by the landlord, by ordinary termination and, for example, for reasons of personal needs, personal needs for a child, or extensive renovation work. In all of these cases, the tenant is entitled to severance payments, but the landlord must pay for an annual rent. However, the reasons for termination must be verified by the courts.


Relatively new in Portuguese tenancy law is that the landlord can terminate an unlimited tenancy even without giving reasons. He announces this to the tenant, and the tenancy agreement ends five years after the tenant has been informed accordingly. The landlord must point this out a maximum of 15 months, but no later than one year before the desired termination of the tenancy. The extraordinary termination can also take place without a court order. An extraordinary termination can take place if the rental agreement is not fulfilled by one party, for example, by not paying the rent for longer than three months. However, if the tenant settles the rent arrears within the three months, the lessor's termination becomes ineffective. As a tenant, you can obtain an extraordinary termination, if the conditions in your rental property are unreasonable.


Rent increase

The new tenancy law has been in effect in Portugal since June 28, 2006. In many old Portuguese rental contracts, the rent was fixed and has hardly changed over the years. That changed with the new tenancy law. An annual rent of up to 4% of the value of the rental property can be requested. The landlord can increase the rent accordingly within a rental period of five years. It is stipulated that the tenant must not be burdened too much. In the first year, the lease may, therefore, only be increased by up to €50, in the second year a maximum of €75. If the rental property is in very poor condition, a rent increase is not permitted. The renter is then obliged to remedy all defects immediately.


Broker's fees in Portugal

If you are looking for property in Portugal for the first time, it makes sense to do it with a broker. If you are not yet proficient in the Portuguese language, this is not a problem. There are enough international real estate agencies who are very familiar with the Portuguese rental market. You do not have to worry about high brokerage costs, as in Portugal, this is borne by the landlord.


What is a Condominio, and what do they do?

The so-called Condominios are communities of owners or rental communities in apartment buildings, which jointly decide on decisions regarding the building. So if you rent an apartment in a building that has such a Condominio and would like to have a new elevator in the building, for example, a meeting will be called to make such a decision. This is not just about deciding what or what cannot be changed in the communal property (entrance hall, staircase, elevators, etc.), but also about the financial means that are available.


Condominio costs a certain amount each month. How high it is, is determined by the respective house community itself. The money is not only used for major maintenance work but often also for cleaning the stairwells and paying a caretaker. The caretaker is then not solely responsible for the cleanliness, but also for the functionality of the lifts and that the garbage cans are put out every morning. In some house communities, you no longer have to carry your garbage down yourself, just put it in front of your apartment door, and the caretaker then takes it to the bin. What your Condominio actually contains and covers is ultimately the decision of all tenants. Alternatively, it is possible to hand over this kind of property management to a company. It is often the case that they take care of the entire building and are also allowed to make decisions about changes that you want to make in your apartment.


If you would like to install a new air conditioning system, for example, this must first be discussed with the external Condominio. Even with significant renovation work, such as installing a new kitchen or renovating the bathroom, a brief consultation with property management is mandatory. These companies have the advantage that they work closely with electricity, gas and water suppliers and companies and take care of those contracts for you. Of course, you pay your additional costs as normal, but often do not have to conclude contracts for electricity and gas yourself. The external house management also takes care of the cleanliness and maintenance of the building and the apartments and hires artisans, electricians, or other caretakers. The advantage here is that you and your tenants do not have to make any decisions.


In large cities, in particular, it can happen that you live with many other expats in one house, most of them may not yet speak Portuguese and may not yet be very familiar with Portuguese property law. But your broker will, of course, also help you here and be at your side at all times.


Standard rental contracts in Portugal

There are no standard rental contracts that apply to all landlords in Portugal. However, certain points must be included in every contract.

  • The full names of both parties (tenants and landlords)
  • Marital status, tax numbers, and the respective addresses
  • In the case of students, a third person, for example, a parent, is often included in the rental agreement as a guarantor
  • Type of contract: limited or unlimited (if the contract is limited, a move-out date must be specified)
  • The address of the house you will be moving into, including floor and door number (in Portugal there are often no last names on the doorbell, only the door numbers, and floors)
  • The municipality in which the building is registered
  • If neither party objects to an extension of the agreed rental period (e.g., five years), the rental contract is automatically extended by the same time
  • The rental fee and the respective due dates, specifying the bank account to which the amount has to be transferred
  • Pay attention to any rent increases that the landlord can carry out once a year (the landlord must notify you of this rental increase at least 30 days in advance)
  • Subletting may often only be offered with the landlord's written consent - if you want to undertake renovation work, this can only be done after consulting the landlord as well
  • To what extent the landlord is responsible for the maintenance of the apartment (in principle, landlords undertake to remedy any rental defects before moving in)
  • The bills that might be included in the rent already (electricity, water, gas, internet, etc. are usually borne by the tenant)
  • If furniture and electrical appliances are already in the apartment, the condition of these will be recorded in the contract. If there are any damages after you move out, the landlord can ask you to bear the costs for any repair work
  • If the landlord requests a deposit and what amount
  • Date of the start of the contract and the signatures of the landlord and tenant


The things listed above should be mentioned in every rental contract. Some landlords add more points to their contracts but, that often depends on the type of property. In some cases, general house rules are added to the contract. If the rental agreement does not seem right to you, it is always advisable to consult a lawyer, or a real estate agency or broker. Please do not hesitate to contact us.


Shared flats in Portugal

Especially in larger cities and because of the high rents, it is very common for expats to move into shared flats. It is also particularly worthwhile for students or young professionals to rent a room in such an apartment. Not only financially, this offers some obvious advantages, but also when it comes to making contacts and getting to know new people. Finding your way around in a new city, especially in a new country, can sometimes be difficult, and it is much easier if you have people around that go through the same. Shared apartments have the advantage that if you don't want to, you don't have to live or be alone.


The apartments are usually fully equipped, and the bedrooms also often have a bed, wardrobe, and desk, which makes settling in the beginning much more comfortable. Many emigrants, often also those who move to Portugal alone, initially decide on a flat share and then look around on the housing market in the respective regions. Shared apartments in Portugal, especially in the big cities, can often be quite large. So it is not uncommon to live in an apartment with 5-8 people. Many landlords also try here to avoid paying taxes by requesting the rent in cash. This is mainly due to the fact that most residents in shared apartments only live there for a few weeks or months and are mostly vacationers who do not require receipts and cannot claim the rent for tax purposes. However, if you plan to move into a shared apartment for a while, it is advisable to ask for a receipt of your payment.


Where are the best places to rent in Portugal?

The rent index in Portugal varies by region. Rents on the inland are a lot more affordable than in the coastal areas or in and around Lisbon and Porto. As already mentioned, the rents in the summer months are a lot higher than in the off-season. Where you can rent best depends on where you would feel most comfortable. The following figure shows the average rental prices per square meter in the respective regions in Portugal.


Where and how do I find the right property for my needs?

There are many ways to find a suitable property. You can hire a real estate agency or work with a broker who knows the Portuguese rental market. Of course, there is also the possibility to search on the internet. There are many different sites where you can find apartments to buy or rent. Another option, if you are already in Portugal, are the popular daily newspapers. Here you can also find suitable rental offers and contact the landlord directly. Many emigrants like to get tips from people who have already done all of this. Either forums or groups on social networks are suitable for this.


We are also happy to help you find a property.





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