sign with letters ALAL - Alojamento Local

Local Accommodation: “Cleaning up inactives is necessary, but it was, and is, done very badly”, highlights Eduardo Miranda

More than 80% of the 100 municipalities with the highest rate of failure to send proof of activity are in the interior of Portugal. “We may be destroying what the government supposedly says is a priority, which is to develop the interior,” says the president of ALEP.

What is considered one of the government’s priorities could suffer a major setback. The development of the interior of Portugal is at risk of stagnating due to Local Accommodation (LA). This is because, of the 100 municipalities with the highest rate of failure to send proof to carry out this activity, more than 80% are in the interior of the country, says Eduardo Miranda, president of the Association of Local Accommodation in Portugal (ALEP), in a statement to Jornal Económico (JE).

“This shows us two things: the difficulty in getting information to these areas, where there are many elderly people, and also the fact that there are many migrant homes there,” says Eduardo Miranda, warning that this scenario could destroy one of the Executive’s priorities.

“The government says that one of its priorities is to develop the countryside and local accommodation, which in certain areas is the only form of tourist accommodation and there is no dimension to know other forms, such as hotels, but the government is not going to be going back a decade in the work that has been done since this law was created in 2008,” he said.

The ALEP leader’s statements come after the mayor of Lisbon (CML), Carlos Moedas, assumed that at the moment the municipality “cannot, nor does it have the capacity, to cancel all these licenses”, which according to official data, has 19,917 LA registrations, with 11,447 having provided proof of activity registration, which means that more than 8,200 should be canceled because they have missed the deadline to do so.

Eduardo Miranda recalls that the association had already warned of several situations related to the process of validating proofs. “Firstly, the way the law was drafted. Completely careless. The law doesn’t define what inactivity is, in other words, when can I or can I not cancel a license for inactivity if inactivity isn’t described?” he asks, pointing out that the law exempted those who make their own permanent home for up to 120 days from presenting any proof.

“This goes against what the mayor of Lisbon said. How are you going to cancel a license if you don’t know if the registration has been sent or if you’re simply exempt or haven’t sent it?” asks Eduardo Miranda, who then points to a third common problem in the municipalities, which has to do with a lack of resources, since they have to hold a hearing and notify the interested parties.

“How is a council going to have the resources to do this with thousands of licenses, differentiating between those who own their own homes and those who are exempt?” he asks, pointing out that a problem has even been created in terms of enforcement, due to a lack of dialogue between the councils so that inactive housing can be removed from the market.

“Cleaning up inactive [housing] is necessary, but it has been done very badly. In other words, instead of trying to solve the problem of ghost licenses, they ended up creating another problem for the councils, essentially, and for the sector,” says Eduardo Miranda.

The president of ALEP warns that the percentage of those most at risk of having their registrations canceled if the chambers go ahead with this decision is between 70% and 80%. “This simply destroys the supply that has been created in the interior. There are areas where there is nothing left, even areas of tourist interest. We’ll lose thousands of lodgings in the interior,” he stresses.

Last Friday, the newspaper “Público” reported that local authorities in Lisbon and Porto are willing to go against the law that determines whether local accommodation establishments can continue to operate and thus ignore whether they have been able to prove that they are still in business after the validation period has closed.

For Eduardo Miranda, the main point is for the local authorities to show care in this process, starting with notification and then talking to those involved before they start automatically canceling registrations. “So far, no council has given any indication that they are going to do this automatically and they are, in one way or another, aligned with Lisbon. If they do it blindly, they will create situations of error and injustice,” he points out.

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