Costa says that the State “can lease” vacant houses but does not speak of coercion | Housing

The Prime Minister, António Costa, said Tuesday night that the Mais Habitação program will allow for “transitional solutions” to respond to “emergency” cases and while “definitive solutions” are being built using the Recovery Plan and Resilience (PRR).

“That’s why we launched this new program, Mais Habitação, because we have to have solutions, some of them transitory to respond to this period, while definitive solutions are built or to respond to emergency situations”, said Prime Minister António Costa, during the debate “More housing – New answers”, which took place in Matosinhos.

António Costa highlighted that, at the moment, there are 230 Local Housing Strategies in the country “duly signed and contracted”, 1,200 completed houses and more than 11,000 under construction or project.

“We have the objective of building 26,000 homes by the end of 2026, only in the 1st Law program for the most needy families, but there is a reality, is that housing takes time to build, but each family, each generation of young people, every middle-class family needs housing solutions today and not just tomorrow”, he stressed.

Saying that this is why the Government launched the Mais Habitação programme, António Costa highlighted its two “true” objectives: “to protect families and “to increase the number of affordable homes for Portuguese families”.

In the debate, António Costa listed the various measures that the program contemplates to “protect families”, such as support for housing credit, the possibility of contracts at a fixed rate or the exemption of capital gains, as well as “measures to increase the number of houses”, such as the increase in affordable dwellings.

The prime minister also stated that Portugal is “one of the countries in Europe where the supply of public housing is the lowest”.

“In Portugal, only 2% of the housing stock is public and that is why in the PRR we have the 2.7 billion euros to advance significantly over the next four years in recovering this delay”, he said, also reinforcing that, while building the public housing stock, answers are needed.

“It’s not enough to sign the contract for the house to be ready the next day. We have to have a public offer in the meantime and we have, above all, to encourage private owners to put their homes on the market. who has a house and has it closed and does not monetize that heritage, which is an income for themselves, but is a home for those who need housing”, he highlighted. This was the reference he made to vacant houses, for which the government package proposes that there be coercive tenancy through rent by the State (for sub-leasing) and eventual coercive works.

According to Costa, “many people have empty houses and do not put them on the market because they are afraid that the tenant will stop paying and they will never be able to recover the house, they are afraid that they will damage the house”. Government proposal: “We, the State, can lease houses and sub-lease them on an affordable income basis”. Costa did not specify, however, that this leasing can happen coercively and not just by the free will of the owner.

To the various socialist activists who were at the debate, which was also attended by the Minister of Housing, Marina Gonçalves, the prime minister showed availability to answer the various questions, “take note of the proposals”, as well as criticisms in order to “approve a program that works effectively to meet its objectives”.

“Ensuring that there are more houses on the market accessible to people and guaranteeing support mechanisms for families”, he reinforced.

The Mais Habitação program was approved by the Council of Ministers and will be under public discussion for a month. The proposals return to the Council of Ministers for final approval, on March 16, and then some measures still have to go through the Assembly of the Republic.

The Government wants to increase the number of houses available in the affordable rent program (PAA) and for this purpose a 6% rate is foreseen in the construction or rehabilitation works of houses that are mostly allocated to this program (at least 70%), promising exemption from IMI for three years (extendable for another five years) and exemption from IMT on acquisitions for rehabilitation.

Among other measures, Mais Habitação also includes the creation of a tax regime for houses currently allocated to the AL and which are transferred to the rental market, which includes the attribution of IRS exemption for rental income until December 31, 2030 .

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