A ruling by the Lisbon Court of Appeal at the beginning of December found that neighbours in residential housing complexes can now stop fellow homeowners from letting out their properties to holidaymakers. With so many readers affected by this industry, it was only apt for The Portugal News to lead with the story as the festive season approached.
Since the introduction of new local lodging laws earlier this decade, many residential homeowners and tourists have had disagreements over noise levels and unsociable arrival and departure times.
A group of homeowners in a Lisbon apartment block decided they had had enough of the constant influx of ‘new’ neighbours with their clashing routines and decided at a homeowners’ condominium meeting to prohibit holiday lettings in the building.
The targeted proprietor filed an injunction against the condominium and initially succeeded with the claim.
But when the matter was taken to the Lisbon Court of Appeal, the presiding judges ruled that unless a building is issued with a trading licence, a homeowner can be stopped from renting out a property to holidaymakers.
This rule does not apply to long-term rentals.
The Court explained that letting out a property to tourists is a commercial activity, just as a hairdresser or a café might be, and needs approval from a building’s homeowners’ association in order to operate.
While a local lodging licence is issued by municipal authorities, with the activity then further formalised by registration with tax and tourism authorities, the Court said this “is irrelevant”. It revealed that a property which has initially been destined for housing can only be transformed into a business with approval from other proprietors.
Legal experts contacted by newspaper Público said that cases such as the above remain relatively uncommon due to the recent nature of the local lodging laws, but this latest judgment could result in a few more residential housing complexes successfully challenging holiday lettings.