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Renting a Portuguese property

Usually the best places to look for property rentals are the local newspapers and estate agencies. In tourist areas there are several English language free papers which can be a great source for both short and long term lets, although you may find that you can get a cheaper rent if you go to a Portuguese estate agent’s.

There are two kinds of rental contract in Portugal.

Long term lets (vivienda contracts) are invariably cheaper and usually run for a year, but you automatically have the right to renew for 5 years. When the contract is renewed, the landlord is only allowed to increase the rent by the rate of inflation, although many foreign landlords appear to be unaware of this. You can only be evicted from the house or flat which you have rented if you fail to pay the rent, or if the landlord's finances become so bad that they have to move into the property.

Short term lets (temporada contracts) and intended for very short-term (i.e. holiday) lets, but you can find 1,2,3 and even 11 month "temporada" contracts. These properties will be more expensive than long-term rental properties, but may be more attractive to you if you are not sure what you will be doing next. Also it is also worth knowing that a short term contract can often be changed to a long term one by a court if either there is a shortage of long-term rental accommodation or the landlord is clearly abusing the system by offering a very long temporada contract.

You’ll be asked for a month’s rent as deposit and if you rent through an agent then you’ll have to pay their fees (usually another month’s rent). If you rent a house at the top end of the market, you may be asked for a bank guarantee. This provides assurance for the landlord in case you decide to a) up and leave before the contract is up or b) stop paying rent and effectively squat in the house. In order to obtain a bank guarantee you have to place an amount of money (usually a year’s rent) in a bank account and then ask the bank to draw up the documents and get them signed in front of a Notary Public. You will then not be allowed to touch the money until the landlord releases the guarantee, although you will still be earning interest (minus the bank’s fees, which can be up to 4%). Frankly, if the landlord is prepared to offer any alternative (eg. 6 months rent upfront), then a bank guarantee is best avoided. They take between 2 days and 3 weeks to set up in the first place and are generally more trouble than they’re worth.

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