Commission formed to solve tourist property rental…

Commission formed to solve tourist property rental licensing problems

AS A result of a meeting to discuss the current situation affecting the tourist property rental sector, held last Friday at Vilamoura’s Hotel Ampalius and organised by Portuguese local newspaper, Região Sul, a special commission has now been formed to meet with the government concerning this issue.

Around 170 people attended the all-day meeting including Faro Civil Governor, António Pina, the presidents of Loulé and Albufeira Câmaras (the two boroughs most affected by the licensing issues), the president of the Metropolitan Area of the Algarve, Mácario Correia, representatives from all the relevant trade bodies and the Socialist and Social Democrat MPs for the Algarve, David Martins and José Mendes Bota, among others. One notable absentee was the Secretary of State for Tourism, Bernardo Trindade, the man who could effectively drive through a change in the legislation, but who, although having been invited, declined the invitation to attend.

The Resident spoke to Aníbal Moreno, president of the Almancil Business Association, who attended the event. “I think it was a positive meeting. Everyone there, including the câmara presidents, agreed that the current legislation relating to the licensing of property for tourist rental purposes must be altered.

“What is a big step forward is that we now have the support of the Civil Governor, the representative from the government in the Algarve, who recognises that the legislation is a problem and has agreed to be the spokesperson for a commission being set up to address this issue,” he said.

Moreno explained that an agreement needs to be reached between the associations, the câmaras, the Algarve Tourism Board and the MPs, in order to present one solution to the government. It is expected that this agreement will be finalised within a week to 10 days. Once this is in place, a meeting will be requested with senior government officials and the Civil Governor of Faro will present the proposal on the commission’s behalf.

“It is very positive that we are now joining forces to convince the government of the need for change, and it is great to have the backing of the Civil Governor,” the Almancil Business Association president told The Resident.

“There were politicians at the meeting from all parties and it was good to see that everyone recognises this as a serious issue affecting the region, which must be worked through together,” Moreno said.

He continued: “We propose that only a minimal number of alterations are made to the legislation. It is not our aim to make the government look ridiculous, rather to just try and help make the legislation simple, workable and viable to enforce.”

Several Portuguese lawyers, architects and accountants, as well as various business owners in the sector, including some expatriates, also attended the meeting in Vilamoura.

Many thousands of property owners in the Algarve are affected by the tourist property rental licensing legislation, as the law must be complied with in order to legally rent out villas and apartments to tourists. In recent months though, it has emerged that councils are not equipped to issue the licence and, despite this being the case, the government watchdog responsible for enforcing the legislation has been handing out hefty fines to those found not complying. Some villa rental agencies have received fines totalling as much as 150,000 euros and some may be forced to close by the beginning of the summer season if their fines are not written off and a change made to the law.