Government suspends termination of rental contracts to protect families

The government has decided to press forward with an order to suspend rental contracts due to expire in a move to protect families during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is our duty not only to face this pandemic outbreak but, at the same time, reassure families and companies,” said Portugal’s Prime Minister António Costa last Friday, adding that the economy would be rebooted in June.

In terms of families, one of the government measures announced after a Council of Ministers meeting held on Friday was to suspend termination of rental contracts that were due to expire over the next three months, as now was not the time to increase people’s anxiety over having to look for another place to live.

“When we are asking people to stay at home, it is certainly not the time for people to be out and about looking for homes. It is the time for people to be safe in the knowledge of their rights to housing,” said António Costa.

In addition to this measure, and again aimed at families, the prime minister announced the automatic renewal of unemployment subsidies, benefits for the elderly and social inclusion benefits.

Regarding suspension of interest payments and deferments on payments on the principal loans aimed to help families with other financial responsibilities such as housing, António Costa said that the government is currently working with the Bank of Portugal and the Portuguese Banking Association so that the banks could use the room for manoeuvre offered them by the European Central Bank as much as possible to renegotiate contracts on loans.

He added that the “banks had every interest in this moratorium working”, emphasising that they needed to “create the conditions whereby clients could meet their obligations” in the face of a global crisis.

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