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Government must stamp out illegal holiday homes

An association representing hotels and tourist accommodation in the Algarve is calling for urgent measures from the authorities to clamp down on illegal tourist rentals and warns holidaymakers to keep away from these so-called “parallel tourist beds”.

In a statement sent to the press this week, the Associação de Hotéis e Empreendimentos Turísticos do Algarve (AHETA) says that, as the “legitimate representative” of hoteliers and tourist accommodation businesses in the region, it urges the authorities to step up inspections of illegal holiday lets in “privately owned apartments and villas, which are not registered with the relevant competent entities, may not meet safety standards and pose a risk to holidaymakers”.

“This type of accommodation constitutes unfair competition for businesses that have to pay taxes and undergo regular inspections from the authorities to ensure safety requirements are fulfilled in order to be legal to trade,” stated the association.

AHETA is also advising consumers to check that the holiday property is licenced to trade before making a reservation by contacting the local municipal authorities.

“Câmaras should make this information available through the ‘serviços de atendimento’ online. An up-to-date list of all licenced holiday properties should be presented to the person,” continued the statement.

The association says consumers, moved by the necessity to save money in view of the current economic crisis, may find it difficult to resist cheap deals for holiday accommodation.

However, they must be cautious “as often living conditions on those properties are poor or even non-existent in some cases”.

AHETA also raises the awareness of holidaymakers about holiday rental fraud, where the consumer books for the property via the internet when in fact it doesn’t even exist.

Recent rental property registration laws allow owners, who are looking to generate income from holiday lets, to trade legally.

“It is thus unacceptable that unlicensed holiday properties continue to steal trade from hotel units and tourist complexes, leading to great losses.

“It is also bad for the image of the Algarve. The entities responsible for monitoring this type of illegal activities need to act promptly,” concluded the association. Inês Lopes