The Bloco de Esquerda political party has presented a bill to prohibit the sale of real estate to citizens or companies with headquarters or permanent residence abroad, as a way to combat the increase in prices in the real estate market.
According to the party, this measure – which, in general terms, was recently adopted in Canada – aims to “combat rising prices with housing”. In the articles of this diploma, BE points out, however, that this prohibition would not apply to “Portuguese citizens with their own and permanent residence outside Portugal”, nor to asylum seekers or immigrants with a permanent residence permit.
“Real estate transactions in low-density territories” would also be excluded, as well as “foreign citizens who acquire a property, in co-ownership, with their spouse or a de facto partner”.
In the explanatory memorandum for the bill, the party led by Catarina Martins argues that, "in Portugal, the fundamental right to a house has yet to be fulfilled". Bloco de Esquerda advances with statistics according to which, between 2010 and 2022, house prices “increased by 80% and rents rose by 28%”, causing residents in Portugal to spend “a brutal percentage of their income on the house”.
Despite acknowledging that the “housing crisis is not unique to Portugal”, the BE considers, however, that “Portuguese governments have only exacerbated this trend, with their policies of privilege and inequality”. According to the party, the “process of gentrification and financialization of housing motivated the mobilization of citizens and local authorities in several European cities”, causing legislative changes at an international level.
Among the examples cited in this bill, the BE mentions namely that, “in Canada, the Liberal Party government prohibited the sale of residential buildings to foreigners, a measure that had already been implemented in New Zealand and that, recently, will also be a reality on the islands of Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca”.
“The defenders of these measures, whose application has been hampered by the power of real estate interests, invoke the same argument: competition from financial capital makes house prices unaffordable for local citizens”, reads the bill.
For BE, “if this is the reality in Canada, the Netherlands, Germany or Catalonia, it is more so in Portugal, where salaries do not compete, neither with the financial power of investment funds, nor with personal income attracted by golden visa regimes, tax benefits for non-habitual residents, or cryptocurrency speculators”.
The party also adds that these international experiences demonstrate that "the process of real estate inflation requires exceptional measures, aimed at protecting the right to housing".