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Portugal - Renting Property
Rent with the knowledge that it is very unlikely you’ll find anywhere with central heating in a country favouring air con. Whilst some rental apartments are older and filled with authentic charm they can have issues with electricity and leaking pipes. Newer apartments may have reliable aircon and regular water supply but are likely to cost more.
Once you find a property to rent, you may think the landlord is being rather casual about the procedure, but this is normal practice. The landlord may not ask for references or perform any kind of checks on you as a tenant. What you should ensure is that you both sign a tenancy agreement (contrato de arrendamento) so it is all officially recorded. It will be necessary for you to have your Portuguese fiscal number / tax number (Numero fiscal de contribuinte) to hand. Ensure that you have an English translation of the contract so that you understand what you are signing either supplied by the landlord, estate agent or tenant.
Check that the rental contract has a notice period for the tenant so you are aware of expectations. Also check when the contract needs to be reviewed. The contract must include the price of rent the tenant must pay monthly. The contract must have the tenant’s details including The Licence for Usage as a dwelling (Licença de utilização) with the public authority and number which granted the licence, Tenancy contracts are either fixed term or open ended so ensure if it is fixed term the expiry date is printed within the contract and what the consequences are for breaking the tenancy term. The contract must also have the entry from the Land Registry. By ensuring all of this information is within the contract you will align it with the New Law on Urban Rental (Novo Regime do Arrendamento Urbano - NRAU).
For the most part, leases are open ended. Leading up to the rental contract end, the tenant and landlord can discuss a renewal or termination of the contract. Open ended is favoured over fixed term because of problems landlords have had in the past due to pro tenant regulations under fixed term leases remaining in properties for longer than wished by the landlord.
Trends have shown that many expats relocating to Portugal buy straight away, or if not, rent for a short while whilst preparing to buy. It is possible to find long term rentals, that of 6 months to 5 years. In resort areas with short stays and holiday lets the idea of long term rental is an expensive notion and consequently, not often found. Long term rentals are usually unfurnished, particularly if they are larger properties. The tenants rental contract (contrato de arrendamento) and rights are of more weight if you do intend on long term rental give the pro tenant finer print.
More information about tenancy rental rights can be found here.
Short term rentals differ from long term in many ways. Short term rentals are furnished. They can range in time periods to a few weeks for a holiday let to a 3 months short stay. With shorter rentals, the tenants rights are less upheld than longer rentals so if going for short term rental, insist on a contrato de arrendamento. Short term rentals come in the shape of villas, cottages, townhouses, apartments and condos. Expect short term rentals to be more costly than long term per week or month, especially in resort areas. Long term rentals will usually be unfurnished, and a fixed rate per calendar month all year whereas short term rentals will vary due to season and demand. Whilst long term rentals probably don’t include utility bills, short term rentals will.
It is usual practice for the tenant to pay a month's rent in advance and a deposit of one or two months. If utilities aren’t included in the contract, ask to see previous bills so you can estimate the costs each month. Electricity may well be metered.
It is more common to find rental properties which are furnished (mobiliado) than unfurnished (sem mobília). In resort areas, long term unfurnished rentals are hard to come by with properties generally being furnished for both long and short term leases. Furnished can usually mean white goods, kitchen utensils and cutlery, basic furniture, decorations and necessary things such as bed sheets. However, this can vary dependent on the landlord and the rental. Naturally, the higher the price the plusher the furnishings. Unfurnished generally means no white goods (though in some cases they are included), no furniture or decorations. If there are white goods or any furniture check who is responsible for the maintenance or replacement.
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