The Mayor of Lisbon insisted today that the Government’s measures to increase the supply of housing should not “be imposed”, arguing that the State “must set an example” before demanding it from the private sector.
“I’m 52 years old and I don’t remember such a radical proposal from a political point of view. Such a radical invasion of the domain of what is private property and decreeing, without further ado, the end of local accommodation. These impositions and these prohibitions do not can take us nowhere”, said Carlos Moedas (PSD).
The mayor of Lisbon was speaking at the closing of the conference “More Housing – Protection, regulation or brake”, organized by Jornal Económico and Novo Semanário, with the support of the law firm CMS and the real estate agency Fine & Country.
During the intervention, Carlos Moedas highlighted the role of local authorities in terms of housing and again regretted that the municipality had not been consulted before the announcement of the Mais Habitação programme, presented by the Government on 16 February.
“The original sin of what you were discussing here this morning is that nothing was discussed with the municipalities. That is, those who are close to people on a day-to-day basis. Those who know housing problems like no one else, were not consulted by the Government. I did not even receive a call from the Government”, he criticized.
Referring to some measures foreseen in the Government’s proposal, such as the forced leasing of vacant houses, Carlos Moedas defended that the State should “set an example” before “requiring anything from the private sector”.
“The State comes to say that we are going to force the private sector to rent their vacant buildings, but the city councils and the State itself do not rent their vacant lots and have them in the city”, he questioned, stressing that “only after setting an example” is it that there will be “face to ask private”.
The mayor of Lisbon also called for leaving “partisan political ideology out of the discussion on housing” and defended solutions involving public, private and social sector partners.
“We cannot move forward with public policies without having people. To have people we have to be doing with people. The housing problem has to be solved in a diversified way and the private sector has to help”, he defended.
Speaking specifically about the municipality of Lisbon and the deficit of municipal housing, Carlos Moedas referred that between 2010 and 2020 an average of 17 dwellings were built per year in the city, against the 901 that had been built 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 am not making any political statement”, he stressed.
Still on the subject of municipal measures in the field of housing, the mayor recalled that the municipality is building and rehabilitating housing to increase the public offer and insisted on the need to exempt young people from the IMT (Municipal Tax on Real Estate Transfers).
“It’s a sign, because people can’t stand paying more taxes. As mayor, I want to give people a signal. at age 35 are exempt from the IMT. Therefore, we are going to take this measure again and do it without having any ideological problem”, he pointed out.
The proposal by the leadership of the municipal executive is to exempt young people up to the age of 35 from paying the IMT for the acquisition of their own housing, with a maximum value of 250 thousand euros.
In his speech, the mayor also mentioned that two thousand families were identified as living in an “undignified” way in Lisbon and that the objective is to “put an end to this indignity”, with the regeneration of 34 areas of the city being foreseen.
On February 16, the Prime Minister, António Costa (PS), presented a package of measures, estimated at 900 million euros, to respond to the housing crisis in Portugal, as part of the Mais Habitação program, with five axes of action: increase the supply of properties used for residential purposes, simplify licensing processes, increase the number of houses on the rental market, fight speculation and protect families.
The Mais Habitação program was approved by the Council of Ministers and will be under public discussion for a month. The proposals will return to the Council of Ministers for final approval, on March 16, and then some measures will still have to go through the Assembly of the Republic.
Among the announced measures are changes in the accommodation sector, including a ban on new licenses and the decision that current licenses “will be subject to reassessment in 2030” and, thereafter, periodically, every five years.