By Rita Pereira
Given the increasing difficulties in obtaining financing, the rental market in Portugal has grown exponentially over the past few years. The Portuguese Government has followed this trend and adopted several legal measures on this matter.
The Law No. 31/2012, of August 14, approved new measures to dynamise the rental market, giving parties the freedom to establish the contents of their rental contracts, particularly in relation to their duration. However, other important measures have been created, which needed to be regulated, such as the implementation of a Special Eviction Procedure and the creation of the National Office for Leases (Balcão Nacional de Arrendamento) .
The Government has recently published the Decree Law No. 1/2013 of January 7, which has approved specific regulations for the said special procedures and Balcão Nacional de Arrendamento.
The Special Eviction Procedure and the National Office for Leases
The Special Eviction Procedure can be applied in the following cases:
• termination of the lease contract by mutual agreement;
• termination of the lease contract due to its expiration;
• termination of the lease contract upon opposition to its renewal;
• notice of lease termination by the landlord;
• termination of the lease contract by the landlord for his own use or his children’s use;
• termination of the lease contract by the tenant; and
• termination of the lease by notice of termination due to the non-payment of rents for more than two months; or
• termination of the lease contract by simple notification to the tenant in cases where the landlord wishes to demolish or undertake works on the property.
If the tenant does not vacate the property on the scheduled date, the said Special Eviction Procedure would be the appropriate procedure to terminate the lease. This procedure is intended to facilitate the eviction from the property without the need to lodge a claim in Court.
In order to manage this Special Eviction Procedure, the National Office For Leases (BNA) is created as a legal office with exclusive jurisdiction throughout the national territory.
It should also be outlined that the only purpose of the BNA is to evict the tenant from the property.
This procedure starts with an application – the application for eviction – which should be submitted by electronic means. In case the tenant does not file an opposition to this application, it will be converted into an Eviction Title for the leased property.
Subsequently, the BNA will provide the enforcement agent, notary or the appointed bailiff with the Eviction Title, and shall notify the applicant that this title was issued.
The eviction process may vary according to the purpose of the lease agreement, i.e.:
• If the rented property is not the main domicile of the tenant – a prior judicial authorisation will not be required to enter the property;
• If the rented property is the main domicile of the tenant and the latter refuses to vacate the property, a judicial authorisation, issued by the Court, is required;
• If the property is abandoned, the Enforcement Agent shall post a notice on the door with the date and time scheduled to enter the property, without the need of a judicial authorisation to enter the leased property;
• If there is no evidence of abandonment, a judicial authorisation, issued by the Court, will be necessary to enter the leased property.
Finally, it should also be noted that once these requirements are met, the keys of the property will be immediately returned to the landlord.
Rita Pereira, Litigation Department, Neville de Rougemont