Resident of Quinta da Fonte is owed 77 thousand Euros by his father, who died 20 years ago, to pay the Loures City Hall

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The Loures City Hall is claiming millions of euros in debts in arrears from tenants of municipal districts, opening ‘war’ with the residents, who complain about the housing policies and regret having been abandoned for years on end by the municipality.

This is the case of Samuel Semedo, a resident of the Quinta da Fonte neighborhood, who tells CNN Portugal about his case. When many families had to move to this neighborhood in 1996, as part of the rehousing of those who lived in shacks located on the land that was to be developed to build the access roads to Expo 98, his parents were given a three bedroom apartment, where Samuel still lives today.

The father died in 2003, almost 20 years ago, when the rent went up from six euros to 323. With his mother unemployed and all his children minors, the only source of income was the family allowance. Despite attempts, the process was never updated, and when Samuel was older he tried to regularize the lease with the City Hall, and was told that the case was already with the legal department.

It was then the year 2010. Five years later Samuel’s mother died and the process dragged on until this year.

It was informed that the family had a debt of 109 thousand Euros to pay to the Loures Municipality, however the amount has dropped to 77 thousand Euros.

The resident, who receives minimum wage, doesn’t know how he will pay the amount owed. “We’ve been to the meetings. We’ve turned in all the papers. I wanted to resolve this years ago. Now they’re telling us it’s 77,000 euros,” he laments to the television channel.

The Associação de Moradores Unidos da Apelação denounces that the Loures City Hall has a “very bureaucratic and time consuming” service when it comes to issues of updating and paying rents, a problem that has worsened with the effects of the pandemic.

More than half of the 800 houses in the Quinta da Fonte neighborhood belong to the municipality led by Ricardo Leão, who announced in May that “the time for looking the other way is over”, with the Extraordinary Plan for Credit Recovery and Regularization of Municipal Housing Debts. The goal is to recover 15 million euros in rents that have not been collected, moratorium compensations and balances from debt recovery plans.

The municipality explains that almost half of the total 2570 tenants of the 20 municipal districts and two clusters of dwellings do not pay rent, with 1225 families having three or more unpaid bills.

The low rents, of 10 to 30 euros in many cases, lead to the question of how the Chamber arrived at a liability of 15 million euros in this regard.

Sónia Paixão, vice-president of the Loures Municipality justifies it with the “inertia that can be said on both sides”, but points out that “the biggest culprit is those who live inside the dwellings, who know they have a lease contract”:

About the regularization of debts, the responsible for Housing speaks of issues of “justice, fulfillment of obligations.

The council’s plan foresees a maximum period of 30 months for the payment of debts, with the municipality assuring that the payments will be adjusted “to the economic capacity of the families”, to end the “climate of impunity and non-compliance”.

In the case of Samuel, who earns the minimum wage, he would have to pay more than 2500 euros per month.

According to the municipality’s plan, the deadline for families to regularize their debt and default situation extends for one year, until the end of May 2024.

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