Summer lettings legislated

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After several attempts, discrepancies, much publicity and political confusion, the By-Law 517/2008 that will regulate Decree Law 39/2008 regarding local temporary accommodation establishments – the so called “summer lettings” was finally published on 25th June and comes into immediate effect.

After the confusing legislation, that made it more or less impossible to temporarily let the dwelling house of the common citizen in a legal manner, the new law has arrived at last.

This By-Law defines three types of local accommodation already listed and defined by Article 3 of the Decree Law (which rules the legal regime for the installation, exploration and functioning of tourist developments) as follows:

a) Villa (detached villa for habitation purpose)

b) Apartment (autonomous fraction in a building)

c) Accommodation Establishment (establishment for accommodation which is composed of several rooms – a guest house for example)

In order to open doors to the public and start working and providing temporary accommodation, one has to follow these steps and requirements:

  1. Produce a valid habitation permit issued by the Municipality;
  2. Make a written request to the President of the Municipality according to the format published in the By-Law;
  3. Provide proof of the lawful owner of the property;
  4. Provide a declaration of responsibility from a technician regarding the electricity and gas installation;
  5. Provide the plans of the property as filed with the Municipality;
  6. Provide the “matrix” number (caderneta) as registered with the tax department

Without any necessity to obtain declarations from other authorities and without the requirements demanded previously which were the same as applied to Hotels, the stamp showing receipt of the application as applied by the applicable department in the Municipality is sufficient title to open the doors to the public and start working.

It will be rest with the Municipality whether to actually, physically verify or not the existence of the requirements within 60 days after the submission of the request. If in fact the verification is executed, and the requirements established in the By-Law are not fully satisfied, the title must be returned to the council and the registration will then be cancelled. If on the contrary the requirements are satisfied, then the doors remain open to the public and accommodation is allowed.

If, on the one hand, the Municipality may exercise its right to verify the existence of the general requirements and find them to be lacking, on the other hand, it is the responsibility of the Autoridade de Segurança Alimentar e Económica (ASAE) to investigate and initiate the process in case of offence and breach of the law.

The By-Law divides establishments into two categories depending on their accommodation capacity:

i) Less than 50 persons
ii) 50 persons or above

The difference between both situations is only regarding the obligation in the second option to have a security project against fire hazards.

The property for letting may be externally identified with a plate which will be supplied by the council with the Letters “AL” according to the provisions of the By-Law, and it will be compulsory, as with other establishments open to the general public, to have a complaints book under the terms of Decree Law 156/2005 as amended by Decree Law 371/2007.

Lagoa, 4th July 2008

Marta Pargana Pereira
Advogada - Lawyer
C.P. 15136L
Member of The British-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce
Parque Empresarial Algarve
Lote 12 - 1B
8400-445 Lagoa (Algarve)

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