Portugal: radical steps against the housing crisis

Portugal's government has unveiled a package of far-reaching measures aimed at tackling the crisis on the housing market. It includes a ban on the issuing of licences for holiday homes and penalties for leaving flats vacant. Commentators say the arguments of economic liberals and conservatives who object to so much state control are too sweeping.

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Expresso (PT) /

Ban on new holiday homes overdue

Expresso sees a mixture of good and bad measures:

“The package is not easy to characterise ideologically. It contains both an extreme and potentially unconstitutional measure (the obligation to rent out vacant homes) and a liberal approach regarding the use of land to create new housing. ... The measures relating to holiday homes are complex, but it is clear that liberalisation has led to dramatic excesses and that many European cities are taking similar measures to transfer such homes to the rental market. ... For all the criticism this is generating, it seems increasingly inevitable.”

Público (PT) /

Who will enforce this?

For Público, ideological criticism of the government programme distracts from the real difficulties:

“Attacking the government's package as a socialist threat may frighten little children, but it distracts from the problem. It is more important to reflect on whether the state is even capable of doing all that it has set out to do: assess, monitor, rent, sublet, collect and pay, and an endless list of other tasks. There is no sign of a public body that could manage this. And it is to be feared that a new batch of bureaucrats would have to be hired for this purpose. It must be stressed now that the project may fail for lack of funds, or incur long-term costs.”