Ending Alojamento Local won’t solve the housing crisis, says Faro mayor Rogério Bacalhau
Protests are being held today in Faro, Lisbon and Porto against the government’s proposed changes to the Local Lodging (Alojamento Local, or AL) short-term rentals scheme.
The demonstration is taking place on the same day that the final version of the controversial ‘Mais Habitação’ (More Housing) programme is due to be unveiled.
At the protest in Faro, dozens of people gathered at Largo da Sé in protest against the proposed AL changes.
Also in attendance was local mayor Rogério Bacalhau, who expressed his support.
Said Bacalhau: “In my view, your demands are more than fair. Alojamento Local is an activity that is not very many years old but has revitalised towns. And when people speak of entire neighbourhoods in Porto and Lisbon that are just ALs, I propose an exercise: If it weren’t for Alojamento Local, what would be there today?”
“They were old houses, with very few living conditions when compared to today’s standards. Owners started aging, dying and nobody was going to renovate those houses to rent them out at market prices,” he stressed.
The mayor believes that AL “created an economy which in the sector of rehabilitation is very important” to the older sections of towns.
“That happened here too. We have many older houses which were renovated and are today excellent ambassadors of our tourism,” he said.
“They also bring economy to families. We aren’t talking about large groups, we are talking about a family economy, of retired people who live off of their small pensions and who find (in AL) a supplement to their pension, and of people who work in other activities and also have a financial supplement (in AL) every month. They leave work and go take care of their properties and they receive a reward at the end of the month or week. These are people who invested significantly but who in a few years are able to make it up,” said Bacalhau.
According to the local mayor, these properties would never have been renovated if not for AL and would have continued creating “discomfort” amongst the population.
This alone could have justified leaving the AL scheme as it is, he said, and leaving it to be managed by local councils.
Bacalhau also refused the notion that ending or restricting the AL sector will solve the housing crisis. “No one believes that. We will not have a single new house by ending AL. The housing problem will not end by forbidding anything,” he said, delaying any further comments to after this afternoon’s announcement from the government.
“We will see if there is any openness from the government for us to continue revitalising our towns and economy and benefiting from the best that we have in the Algarve, which is tourism, providing experiences that make people what to come back, and that is also what Alojamento Local does.”