INVESTIGATORS LAUNCHED an operation last Thursday to inspect 44 rented properties in the Algarve. Thirty-two owners were fined for not having the appropriate rental licence.
The operation was carried out by Autoridade de Segurança Alimentar e Económica (ASAE), the government entity responsible for ensuring that all properties that are rented to tourists possess a licença de utilização turística.
Fines for failure to produce licences range from 500 to 2,500 euros for property owners: an amount which could rise to 33,000 euros if the property is owned by a company, according to a spokesperson from ASAE.
It has been estimated that the majority of tourists staying in the Algarve are renting unlicensed properties. At the moment, there are around 120,000 licensed bed spaces in 500 tourist establishments across the Algarve, which means that there are an estimated 500,000 unlicensed bed spaces.
“There are people who cannot afford the steep costs of the licensing process,” said Elidérico Viegas, the president of the hotel and resorts association, AHETA. “It can cost thousands of euros to complete the proposal for the câmara and can take many months to process.”
A staff member at a villa rental agency in Carvoeiro told The Resident last month that on average, it takes between two and three months to complete the project to be presented to the câmara for a licença de utilização turística. However, this is dependant on the size of the property, its condition and if any alterations have been made which need to be changed on the plans and so on. Several visits may be needed before the architect can sign for the property to confirm it meets all requirements.
Many have criticised local governments for taking so long to approve licences. This could result in owners being fined by inspectors even though they have applied for the licença de utilização turística.
ASAE said the law states that no-one can rent a property without holding the licence.
Regional Tourism Board President, Hélder Martins, made a shocking revelation to The Resident two months ago, when he said that since the legislation came into effect more than a year ago, only around 10 property owners in the Algarve had received the licença de utilização turística.
A solution to the situation, which is leaving property owners high and dry, does not appear to be in sight. If the process is not made easier and faster, there could be a detrimental effect on the tourist industry.
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