Carla Tavares (left), taking part today in an event on accessibility to housing
Carla Tavares (left), taking part today in an event on accessibility to housing

Government’s plans to solve housing crisis “will work” – leader of metropolitan council

Will speed up PRR funds “to become real”

Leader of the Lisbon Metropolitan Council, Carla Tavares, has today defended the measures announced by the Socialist Party government to respond to the housing crisis – stressing they will “help increase supply, support families and combat real estate speculation”.

With so much ‘anger’ in the air from business associations/ groups representing investors, Ms Tavares – also the mayor of Amadora – stressed the measures are, in fact, designed principally to help families.

“Time will tell whether or not they are sufficient. But, immediately, we have more instruments to put more houses on the rental market, to combat speculation, to support families, to simplify licensing processes. Local authorities are also left with instruments that allow them to increase the offer of properties for housing”, she told Lusa.

The €900 million-worth of measures making up the government’s ‘More Housing’ programme are, as the prime minister has explained, 5-pronged, to:

  • increase the supply of properties used for housing purposes, 
  • simplify licensing processes, 
  • increase the number of homes on the rental market, 
  • combat speculation 
  • protect families.

In Carla Tavares’ mindset, the package “permits more muscular measures”, helps put into practice measures foreseen in the ‘local housing strategies’, and speeds up bureaucratic processes.

“These are also facilitating instruments for the municipalities and for the speed of the execution processes of the PRR (Programme for Recovery and Resilience) to become in fact real and that we can here, the 18 local authorities together, also find ways to help simplify and facilitate all these PRR processes,” she argued.

Ms Tavares also highlighted the fact that the announced measures foresee the availability in the rental market of vacant houses – which in the case of the metropolitan area of Lisbon (AML), number 160,000 – and a way to “reassure landlords“.

“Regulating the rental market, encouraging and reassuring landlords so that they gain confidence also, in a collective participation of the central State and the local State, regarding housing, seems to us to be an important instrument. We hope that it will allow us to find and optimise dwellings available on the market for housing purposes. And there are, in fact, many available dwellings, even because the value of the dwelling is not often the same as that of the accommodation, of the housing”, she pointed out.

Regarding measures planned to limit local tourist accommodation (AL/ alojamento local), the mayor defended the need to regulate this activity, arguing that this is an “absolutely exceptional” time.

According to the prime minister, the issuing of new local tourist accommodation licences “will be prohibited”, with the exception of rural lodgings in local councils in the interior of the country, where they may boost the local economy.

Current licences “will be subject to reassessment in 2030” and, after that date, periodically, every five years.

AL accommodation cannot lead to people often being forced to leave their area of residence, due to an exponential increases in rent. So I take a positive view of the fact that local tourist accommodation is more regulated at a time that is “absolutely exceptional. When we are faced with different challenges we also have to act differently”, she justified.

Questioned about the fact that these measures may jeopardize tourism in the Lisbon region, Carla Tavares countered, recalling that the region has “an excellent supply of hotels”.

“We have, fortunately, an excellent range of hotels in this Metropolitan Area. Tourism is very important, naturally, as an economic and development factor for the country, but tourism cannot prevail over people’s rights and an essential right which is the right to housing”.

This is the cornerstone of the government’s approach, and is very much part of the left-wing mantra of the day.

Mariana Mortágua, the Bloco de Esquerda MP due to take over as coordinator when Catarina Martins relinquishes her post at the next party congress, said earlier this month: “The right to property cannot be placed above the other right, which is the right to housing”.

Source: Lusa/ Expresso