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10 Tips for Renting a Property in Portugal Before Buying

Renting a property in Portugal is a great way to prepare yourself for buying a place of your own. It gives you the chance to “live like a local” and experience what your future in Portugal could look and feel like. It’s a low-risk way to try out the lifestyle and determine whether it suits you.

If you’re considering renting a property in Portugal, it’s worth knowing that certain things may work differently to “back home”.

This post will help you to understand the nuances of the rental market in Portugal, and save you from scams and disappointments.

“Renting a property in Portugal could be your first step along the path to a new life in the sun, and when the timing is right, we will serve as your buyer representative in finding your dream home!!!”

1. Don’t Rely on Online Searches Exclusively… Look for the R®

While you’ll certainly be able to find plenty of Portuguese rental properties online, a simple Google search is unlikely to give you a full picture of what’s available.

It’s not that Portugal is “behind the times” with technology. The country utilises all kind of cutting-edge tech – everywhere from the toll roads to the ATM systems. However, some agencies are still distinctly “old school”. You may not find out about every available property without looking in an agent’s window – or asking.

Making some “on the ground” contacts could mean you find out about the latest properties to hit the market, helping you to score a gem.

“If you’re considering renting a property in Portugal, it’s worth knowing that certain things may work differently to “back home!!!”.

2. Reach out by Phone / Zoom (or Visit Agents in Person)

A common complaint from house-hunters in Portugal is that they don’t receive responses to their enquiry emails.

There’s a cultural element to this (and – let’s be honest – perhaps some level of inefficiency!!!).

The reality is that this kind of business is often carried out in person in southern Europe. It’s also fair to say that firing off emails in English and expecting an immediate response is unrealistic.

Get on the phone and schedule a zoom call. Speak some Portuguese (if you can) or have somebody do so on your behalf. Even better, do everything in person. You’ll no doubt want to have a good look around your rental options anyway.

3. Understand the Distinction Between Short and Long Term Rentals

Depending on how long you plan to rent for, you may have the option of renting a holiday (Airbnb style) property for a few months, instead of taking up a formal tenancy.

There are pros and cons to this. It’s likely to be more expensive, but will probably include utility bills and will save you from certain red tape formalities.

As a general rule of thumb, for anything longer than 3-6 months, it usually makes more sense to take out a proper, long-term rental contract. However, if you want to bounce around different areas, shorter-term rentals might make sense, especially off-season. (In high season, they’re likely to be prohibitively expensive).

4. Avoid the “Under the Radar” Temptation

The Portuguese government has done much in recent years to tighten up the property rental market. Incentives have included both stick (large fines for lawbreakers) and carrot (tax incentives for some landlords).

Despite this, there’s a chance you might be offered an “under the table” or “for cash” deal on a rental property.

The best advice is simply to say that this is not the way to go about renting a property in Portugal. There are wide ranging risks, from outright scams to the chance of falling foul of the law yourself.

Furthermore, if your rental home is your primary residence, you may be able to claim a tax credit on your rent payments. You won’t be able to do this without a legally sanctioned agreement.

“For the “Passive Income Visa, otherwise known as the D7 Visa, you will need a registered rental contract with a minimum one year lease with Finance Office!!!”

5. Think About Timing

In some parts of Portugal, especially the Algarve, there are good times of year to look for a long-term rental property, and far worse times.

A perfect time is at the end of the summer season. Many landlords see their occupancy rates dropping after high season and like the prospect of guaranteed income over the winter. Conversely, many landlords are reluctant to turn away lucrative weekly tourist rates just as high season begins.

“If you plan to move to a coastal area of Portugal, try to find out what it’s like all-year round!!!”

This isn’t to say you won’t find anywhere to rent at the “wrong” time of year. However, you will undoubtedly have more choice if you time it right.

Also on the subject of seasonality, it’s worth remembering that some parts of Portugal change considerably from season to season. This applies to how busy and vibrant they are, as well as the weather. If you plan to move to a coastal area of Portugal, try to find out what it’s like all-year round.

July is very different to February in the US or UK… In Portugal the contrast can be even starker.

6. Look at Contract Terms for TV and Broadband and other Utilities

When you’ve chosen your rental property, you’ll likely want to get set up with an internet and / or TV package as well as water; electricity and gas.

This is a good time to check the small print – especially if you’re only staying 6-12 months and the contract from your provider is for longer. In many cases, you’ll be able to move your service(s), but it’s wise to check the terms around this. If you’re not sure you will remain in Portugal, you may be better to make do with mobile broadband on a pay-as-you-go basis.

7. Remember that People (and Not Computers) Make Most of the Decisions

Property rentals in the the US / UK, and elsewhere in northern Europe, have relatively automated admin. Potential tenants are usually credit scored, with a (sometimes third-party) company verifying references.

It’s not usually like that in Portugal. Often, it will come down to whatever deal you strike with the owner or agent. Once again, it’s that “in person” way of doing business.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the paperwork is easy. In cities, in particular, agents and owners will probably want to see proof of income or employment. However, you can generally expect a more human process, without so much risk of “computer says no”.

8. Find your lifestyle climate

Portugal’s climate is very different from North to South, and including the islands, so be sure to familiarize yourself with it before starting your search to determine which is a best fit for you and your lifestyle.

9. Always use a professional lawyer or solicitor

I encourage you to seek out the services of a lawyer or solicitor to analyze rental agreement on your behalf. The contracts can be drawn up in both English and Portuguese, and so you know exactly all the terms on the contract, and have it in writing.

10. Work with a REALTOR® to get started!!!

In addition with your property search, a REALTOR®, will be a resource to know about local schools or universities, and many other services that you will need for your you and your family to make the transition and move to Portugal!!!

Always look for the R!!!®

You’re about to embark on an exciting journey – moving to Portugal!!!!… There’s a lot of information on the internet, but it’s always best to check with reputable professionals, to ensure you’re making the right choices for your personal situation.

If you need help with relocating to Portugal, our team of experts can help.

Infinite Solutions specializes in assistance with residency and property investment in Portugal. Get in touch to schedule a free 30-minute consultation.

We pride ourselves in being part of the decision of more than 500 families making Portugal their new home!!!

Feel free to schedule a call at your convenience and let’s see where we can add value if you are considering a move to Europe’s sunniest Country.

This post may additionally help get you started:

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Kind Regards,

António Barbosa - REALTOR®

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