Where Does AL Stop and Long-Term Begin?

by | Sep 7, 2023 | Alojamento Local, Owners, Tenants

This was a question that came up in an online group, and is confusing for many. Many people believe that the boundary is 1 month, but then someone posted the comment that “Anything under 3 months is considered a holiday rental.” So what does the law say about the limit?

Firstly, let’s analyse the NRAU legislation, which legislates for so-called “long-term rentals”.
Artigo 1095.º of the Código Civil says (Item 2): “O prazo referido no número anterior não pode, contudo, ser inferior a um nem superior a 30 anos”.
(the period referred to in the previous number – which says the contract length must be written in the contract – cannot be less than 1 year or more than 30 years)

So, does that mean that anything under 1 year must be Alojamento Local? No, because the following Item (number 3) in the same Article says: “O limite mínimo previsto no número anterior não se aplica aos contratos para habitação não permanente ou para fins especiais transitórios,”…etc.
(the minimum length from the previous number (Item 2, above) does not apply to non-permanent residential contracts or for special transitory means).

In summary therefore, and according to Artigo 1095.º of the Portuguese Civil Code, it is possible to have a lease contract of less than 1 year, with no minimum length, as long as the contract states that it is not for permanent residence, but for a transitory stay such as tourism, study or work – all reasons explicitly mentioned in this clause.

OK, so how about the minimum or maximum stays for Alojamento Local? Again, let’s look at the relevant clauses in the law. Article 4, Item 2 of the law published as “Lei n.º 62/2018 de 22 de agosto” says that: AL activity is assumed if the unit is a) published in tour agents or online sites as temporary or tourist accommodation, or b) if services complementary to accommodation such as cleaning are offered for stays of less than 30 days.

So, does this mean that any stay of less than 30 days is automatically Alojamento Local? No, because in the following Item (number 3) of the same Article, we can read: “A presunção referida no número anterior pode ser ilidida nos termos gerais de direito, designadamente mediante apresentação de contrato de arrendamento urbano devidamente registado nos serviços de finanças.”
(The assumption referred to in the previous Item may be voided if an urban rental contract is properly registered at the Finanças). This means that we can register a non-AL lease with Finanças for less than 30 days. As an aside, it also means that non-AL properties can be published in sites like Airbnb (configured as “Exempt”) AS LONG AS the owner registers a contract with Finanças for any bookings.

Secondly, does this mean that any stay of 30 days or more is automatically a long-term rental? No, there is no mention at all in the Alojamento Local law of a maximum stay. An AL booking can be 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, etc. and owners should protect their rights by signing an AL Services contract with the guest.

HOWEVER, we know from the NRAU long-term rental legislation that a lease of 1 year is considered a permanent residential contract. Therefore, it follows that an Alojamento Local stay, which is intended for temporary accommodation, should always be less than 1 year. This isn’t defined anywhere in the law, but would seem to be the logical interpretation.

In summary: long-term contracts of ANY duration up to 30 years are possible as long as there is a registered contract, and AL stays of any duration up to 1 year are possible too.