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Empty Houses or Abandoned Houses

Recently published data reveal a reality that, at first reading, seems to be a discrepancy, or a dissonance, from what could be the reality of our cities, towns - in short, the houses that go around empty, in general.


The numbers indicate a discrepancy between the number of houses used in Local Accommodation and the number of houses registered for this purpose.

And, big surprise, only 50% of registered houses are found on platforms related to the rental of Local Accommodation.

Half are licensed but apparently not given that use.


So the numbers we've been bombarded with aren't a reality? Isn't the massification of cities and towns in this country so "real"?

Is this registration in Local Accommodation serving as a weapon and selling point for many of the spaces, namely those located in privileged areas?


Is there any relationship with the problems generated by the pandemic?


Apparently, if the numbers have a correspondence with the trajectory of these indicators, that will not be the only motivation.

Real estate investors carrying out the restoration of buildings, or building new spaces, that are oriented towards this type of business, supported by a greater financial availability of individual investors or small companies (due to lack of low-risk or moderate-risk financial investment alternatives ), seems to be a stronger motivation. Using prior licensing as an argument to boost sales.


This situation may be contributing to a reduction in the available stock for all those looking for an alternative housing in these areas and who end up pushed to the periphery, or for situations with lesser conditions, as a result of artificial speculation of a lack of available housing.


This topic reminded us of the approach that Adolfo Mesquita Nunes made in his book "A Grande Escolha" in relation to some of the problems of housing in cities, namely in relation to housing that are unoccupied (which in some areas are in a considerable amount ) and the problem of lack of housing, namely at affordable costs for the middle class, which does not have an easy solution.


This is a relevant topic, particularly at a stage of local elections, where so many express themselves and promise affordable housing solutions and so that people can be brought back to cities and towns that are increasingly occupied by tourist solutions and that are losing their identity and the reasons that brought the tourists in the first place.


But what did Mesquita Nunes refer to anyway?


As is natural, we are not going to reproduce the contents of the book here, just mention a few points. Anyone interested is an interesting read and gives a perspective on globalization and its implications.


The issue that is raised, and which is particularly relevant for families and cities, leads us both to the houses that are unoccupied, as well as to the incentives for renting, and the influence that the State can have on existing and in changing the way the market works.

  • Can we influence and encourage leasing?

  • Can the State put an end to the situation of unoccupied houses that exist by the thousands in our territory?

  • How to reduce the pressure, if any, of tourist activity on housing and on the entire urban fabric?

  • How to encourage the development and construction of more housing for rent, for example?


Are there solutions? It's not easy.

  • It is not easy to move into dwellings that are unoccupied, even if they are falling into disrepair, by a simple administrative takeover. this is because this lack of occupation can be due to multiple reasons, such as the resolution of legal conflicts (inheritance, sharing, etc.) that sometimes take years in court to find and find a solution;

  • The dwellings are not on the market, namely in the rental system, namely because the implied values ​​do not prove profitable for the owner. And it turns out to be a violation of your option to keep the house off the market, for example to look for an alternative as an investor, carrying out an administrative appropriation;

  • The bureaucracy involved in investment and recovery sometimes takes years, which means that properties are not intervened and are left awaiting licensing from the state or local bodies themselves;

  • Although many situations in city centers could be mitigated, alleviated or corrected, this would require an active and dynamic intervention by authorities who sometimes have difficulty managing and responding to the needs presented for the development of new situations or other interventions.


Thus, it is complex to intervene in market processes, or in apparently glaring situations of seeing heritage left to the apparent abandonment, or without its availability on the market. Even because the first and fundamental interventions should be developed by public bodies, which if they do not respond to the requests of other investors, how are they going to monitor and intervene in these situations?


Although there are countries and cities where it was possible to develop solutions that solved these bottlenecks and made the markets more dynamic, providing housing for the middle class at affordable prices and without being conditioned by the inflated values of a market that continues to complain about "lack of stock".

And one of the conclusions will be that the intrusion and regulation of certain situations have implications and ramifications that go beyond the impact (however positive it is intended to be) intended with these interventions.


For example, encouraging private companies to abandon markets and activity by reducing interest by conditioning profitability and their self-regulation or free market.

Cities across Europe have struggled for some time against this state of affairs.

One of the few successful examples is Austria's Vienna.

Will we, once again, let the situation evolve (as was the case with the frozen rents) until there are no feasible solutions that do not harm the local inhabitants (particularly the lower classes)?


What strategy should be central and comprehensive for all Portuguese?

Is the ARU response enough? Or are we going to start building social housing for all those who cannot get another form of housing or a bank loan, in a centralized and authoritarian state?


And these so-called "social neighborhoods" are once again being assigned to certain segments, or even the usual negative connotation, aren't we going to keep the same state of affairs?


Is this something that the candidates for the different municipalities are considering, or are there more empty promises? And if not, then what policies to implement?


Answers and solutions are sought...


What is your opinion on this matter? How can we contribute to an improvement and dynamization of this market so that it serves everyone, not just tourism or luxury housing?

Leave your comments here.

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