By CAROLINE CUNHA
DESPITE THE efforts of various organisations in the Algarve and the lobbying of MPs and business groups, no progress has been made in relation to solving the licensing problem concerning the rental of private properties to holidaymakers.
The Resident reported in January that government inspectorate, the Inspecção-Geral das Actividades Económicas (IGAE), now renamed Autoridade de Segurança Alimentar e Económica (ASAE) had been making surprise inspections at villa rental agencies across the Algarve, particularly in the Almancil area.
Large fines were being given to agency and villa owners if properties being offered for rental did not hold a Licença de Utilização Turística (licence for tourist use).
At that time, The Resident also reported that câmaras in the Algarve were not equipped to issue the necessary licences in terms of knowledge, awareness of the criteria and procedures, as well as personnel resources to carry out the inspections and process the necessary paperwork.
Meanwhile, câmaras and several tourism entities in the Algarve admitted that the present legislation relating to the rental of holiday properties was completely unworkable.
At a public meeting held in Vilamoura just before summer, a commission was formed to try to resolve the problem and present a proposal for alternative legislation. Since then everything has gone quiet.
When the President of the Republic, Cavaco Silva visited the Algarve in September and held a meeting with the 16 council chiefs, it was rumoured the licensing problem would be discussed.
However, Macário Correia, president of AMAL, the entity that represents the councils of the Algarve, told The Resident that it wasn’t discussed and that the present legislation still stands.
This week, The Resident contacted Aníbal Moreno, president of the Almancil Business Association to find out the latest situation. “There is no news at all yet,” he said. “It is very disappointing. Dr. Vítor Neto, the former Secretary of State for Tourism has made contact with members of the government as has José Mendes Bota, the Social Democrat MP for the Algarve and head of the Parliamentary Sub-Commission for Tourism and others, but nothing has happened yet,” he said.
“In the meantime, I am aware that villa owners have been submitting projects to their local câmaras to try to obtain the necessary licence, in accordance with the legislation currently in place. The câmara has sent the paperwork to the Direcção Geral de Turismo (DGT) for its opinion, which has then been sending back responses recommending the câmaras to fail the projects. The câmara then forwards the paperwork to the property owner for them see what changes the DGT is demanding.
“I know of a case where a house did not have an office. The current legislation says that the house must have an office/ reception to receive tourists, while the owner says that the office is at the villa agency. Other similar problems have arisen and so we are back at square one. It is impossible to follow this legislation and obtain the licence. Property owners are spending good money to have all the necessary drawings made by architects and changes made to their property to try and get the project passed to obtain the licence. However, they seem to be doing this for nothing, as the DGT is still coming back finding reasons to fail the applications,” says Aníbal Moreno.
For now, it seems that no inspections are being made by ASAE – Aníbal Moreno says he has not heard of any in the Almancil area recently. Also, those that received notification of the fines they would be charged have yet to receive the official demands.<
This article is written and provided with permission by Robert M.L. Snapper, fully licensed real estate agent in Portugal.