June 20. 2024. 2:26

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Lisbon mayor asks government to set example on vacant housing

Before imposing measures on individuals to increase the housing supply, like forcing them to rent out their vacant properties, the government should look inwards and set the example, Lisbon’s Mayor, Carlos Moedas (PSD), said at a conference about housing on Tuesday.

Speaking at the closing of the conference “More Housing – Protection, regulation or brake”, Lisbon’s mayor talked about the government’s plans to increase the supply of housing across the country.

“I am 52 years old, and I don’t remember such a radical proposal from a political point of view. So radical an invasion of the domain of what is private property and to a decree, without further ado, the end of local accommodation. These impositions and prohibitions cannot lead us anywhere”, said Moedas.

During his speech, Moedas highlighted the role of municipalities in housing matters and once again regretted that the municipality was not consulted before the announcement of the Mais Habitação programme, which the government presented on 16 February.

“The original sin of what they discussed here this morning is that nothing was discussed with the municipalities. That is, those who have day-to-day proximity to the people. Those who knew the housing problems like no one else were not consulted by the government. I didn’t even receive a call from the government”, he said.

The government should be the one setting “the example” before “demanding anything from the private sector”, he added.

“The state is saying that we are going to force the private sector to rent out their vacant properties, but municipal councils and the state do not rent out their vacant properties and have them in the city”, he said

Speaking specifically about Lisbon and the lack of municipal housing, Moedas mentioned the 17 homes built per year from 2010 to 2020, while 901 had been made in the previous decade (2000-2010).

“There is a disaster here. There is something here that went very wrong in the decade from 2010 to 2020. These are numbers. I’m not making any political statement,” he stressed.

On the topic of municipal measures in the area of housing, the mayor also recalled that the municipality is building and rehabilitating housing to increase the public supply and insisted on the need to exempt young people from IMT (Municipal Property Transfer Tax).

The leadership of the municipal executive is proposing to allow people under 35 to be exempt from paying IMT when buying their own homes, up to €250,000.

In his speech, the mayor also said that 2,000 families were living in an “undignified” way in Lisbon and that the aim was to put an end to this by regenerating 34 of the city’s areas.

On 16 February, Prime Minister António Costa (PS) presented a package of measures, estimated at €900 million, to respond to the housing crisis in Portugal, in the More Housing programme, with five lines of action: increase the supply of properties used for housing purposes, simplify licensing processes, increase the number of houses on the rental market, combat speculation and protect families.

The More Housing programme was approved by the cabinet and will be under public discussion for a month. The proposals will return to the cabinet for final approval on 16 March, and then some measures will still have to be passed by parliament.

The measures include changes to the housing sector, including a ban on new licences and the decision that current licences “will be subject to reassessment in 2030” and, after that date, periodically, every five years.

(Fabio Canceiro | Lusa.pt)