Old leases frozen for good

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The Minister for Housing, Marina Gonçalves, has announced that old contracts will remain outside the current rental regime forever, protecting tenants.

The Minister of Housing, Marina Gonçalves, revealed this Thursday that old contracts will be permanently excluded from the current rental regime, in order to protect tenants, most of them elderly. In an interview with Público and Rádio Renascença, the Minister explained that this measure, which is part of the ‘More Housing’ legislative package, includes compensation to be paid to landlords for not updating rents, the calculation of which is still being studied.

“In addition to the two most immediate measures, which are the IRS exemption and the IMI exemption, there is this third component, which is the rent increase, which will be done through the state compensation to the landlord,” says Marina Gonçalves, adding that the government is still studying the matter to understand how many contracts will be covered.

“We need the study to understand which contracts we are talking about, how many contracts are for 20 euros, how many for 200 euros, how many for 400 euros. And with that, we can establish a fair compensation,” he adds.

The governor also points out that this work should be completed in the first half of this year, insisting: “The rent will not be frozen for the landlord”, because “instead of a rent increase and compensation for the tenant in a future moment, there will be a rent increase through compensation for the landlord”.

As for the rent subsidy that the government is including in the legislative package to respond to the housing crisis, the governor predicts that it could reach up to 100 thousand families with an effort rate above 35%.

On the limits of access to this support, Marina Gonçalves explains: “Only families with incomes up to the sixth income tax bracket and with rents up to the limits foreseen in the Porta 65 programme can benefit from it”.

As for the compulsory rental, the most controversial measure in this package, the minister explains that it will require low rents, but will not give the right to tax exemption.

According to him, the compulsory rental regime will impose the signing of contracts for five-year periods and the rents for these contracts will be limited “according to the values foreseen in the Affordable Rental Programme (PAA)”.

“However, unlike landlords who voluntarily participate in this programme, those who are forced to rent their homes will not be entitled to tax exemptions, although they will be forced to practice rents 20% below the market,” he stresses.

The governor points out that the government isn’t “creating anything new”, it’s just “regulating an obligation stemming from the Land Code and the Housing Code, which states that there is an obligation to use property”. “That is precisely why we are creating this instrument, as other countries do, to ensure that this duty of use can be fully complied with,” he stresses.

Marina Gonçalves also says that the vacant properties of the Catholic Church will also be covered by the compulsory lease, considering: “We all have an obligation, from the state, to the third sector, to the church, to private owners, to use our patrimony. This is a general duty, the duty to use the patrimony has no exceptions, it is a duty that applies to everyone”.

On the doubts about the constitutionality of this measure, he replies: “We are convinced that this measure is constitutional. We are not saying that public housing policy will now be made by entering people’s homes. It is also important to see the exceptions to this figure.

“This is another tool of public policy, not the priority. But it is our duty to have the tools to guarantee what is a constitutional right,” the minister insists: “The Constitutional Court has already taken positions on proportionality.

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