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Dayane Martins

Dayane Martins

Immigration Specialist

Mar 26, 2023

Portugal Announces New Measures to Combat Housing Problems, Including Changes to Golden Visa Program

On February 16, 2023, the Portuguese Prime Minister announced a set of measures aimed at tackling the country's housing problem. These measures include addressing high real estate prices, a lack of available properties in the rental market, and a preference for short-term rentals. Within the measures announced, changes to the Golden Visa program were mentioned.

Changes to Golden Visa program announced to combat housing crisis

The Prime Minister announced that new Golden Visas would no longer be granted for exclusively real estate investments. Renewals of existing visas would only be granted if the property is the owner's own or permanent home, or that of their descendant, or if the property is placed on the rental market for long-term rentals. This is a significant change, as more than 9,000 of the approximately 11,000 Golden Visas granted so far have been through real estate investment, with a very low rate of job creation or contribution to other activities.

Proposed changes to Golden Visa program subject to public hearing and parliamentary approval

It is important to note that the Government does not have legislative competence to approve changes to the Golden Visa program. The competent body is the Portuguese Parliament, which is required to receive a proposal with the content of the measures announced above for voting.

The preliminary version of the proposed diploma, which outlines the changes to the Golden Visa program, released on March 3rd, was subject to discussion in a public hearing until March 13th. The period of public hearing was essential for the legislator to understand the reality of the facts that they will be legislating about.

This was an opportunity for interested parties to present arguments and suggestions to revise the wording of the proposal. Following this, a proposal was to be sent to Parliament on March 24th, where it should take 15 to 20 days for approval. This date was extended from March 16th as the government is awaiting the opinion of the Association of Municipalities. The President of the Republic may ratify the proposal or send it back to Parliament for amendment or request the evaluation of the Constitution Court to confirm if any fundamental rights or principles are being jeopardized by the new legislation.

The President of the Republic has already alerted the government to exercise caution in dealing with these matters, showing his attention to the impact and scope of the law that will be approved in Parliament and sent to him for validation.

While the governing party holds the parliamentary majority and can approve the measures announced above without further amendments, it is common for all parliamentary parties to present alternative proposals, which can be reflected in the wording of the law to be approved. 

The Portuguese Parliament, Palacio de Sao Santo in Lisbon
The Portuguese Parliament, Palacio de Sao Santo in Lisbon

Portuguese Government Announces New Measures to Support Affordable Housing, While Golden Visa Program Not Mentioned

On Tuesday, March 21st, the Portuguese government made an announcement regarding their plans to support the country's housing sector. The government's initiative includes an expansion of the Affordable Rental Program, which aims to provide affordable housing options for low-income households. Additionally, the government has committed to investing in the construction of new social housing units and the rehabilitation of existing ones, with a focus on improving energy efficiency and accessibility. The measures also include new tax incentives to encourage landlords to keep their rents at affordable levels. These actions are part of a larger effort by the Portuguese government to address the housing crisis, which has been exacerbated by rising rent prices and a shortage of available housing units in major cities.

It's worth noting that the Portuguese government's announcement regarding housing support on Tuesday did not mention the Golden Visa program.

Legal framework remains in effect until any law is approved

It is important to note that until any law is approved, the current legal framework remains in effect, and there are strong legal grounds to challenge any measure that does not comply with the law to effectively protect the interests of investors and other parties involved in investment processes. Basic principles, such as the principle of non-retroactivity of the law, legal security, proportionality, and the right to private property, are all constitutionally foreseen and should be considered in any proposed legislation.

Moviinn to monitor developments and offer support and guidance to interested parties.

Movinn will continue to closely monitor the developments surrounding the proposed changes to the Golden Visa program in Portugal. We understand that this may be a concerning time for those considering investment or relocation to Portugal, and we are here to offer support and guidance. If you have any questions or concerns, we encourage you to book a free call with one of our experienced immigration specialists who can provide you with the latest information and expert advice.

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