Today’s Solutions: July 06, 2022

Over the last couple of years, tourism in Lisbon has surged dramatically, leading to strong demand for Airbnb-style short-term rentals, which in turn has helped push prices up and local residents out. But, similarly to many other tourist hotspots around the world, the lockdown has drained the Portuguese capital of its visitors. Given the opportunity, the city is now looking to fill some of these vacancies by bringing its residents back.

The city’s mayor Fernando Medina has recently introduced a plan that aims to cut the number of short-term rentals listed on Airbnb and boost affordable housing in the city by giving landlords taxation perks – all in a bid to enable key workers to return to the city center after being pushed out due to a tourism boom.

“Prioritising affordable housing for the hospital staff, transport workers, teachers and thousands of others who provide our essential services is possible. We’re offering to pay landlords to turn thousands of short-term lets into ‘safe rent’ homes for key workers,” explains Medina.

Lisbon landlords who sign up for the Secure Income program are guaranteed a monthly income for five years and will also be exempt from paying income tax on the rent.

Apart from its social benefits, the plan could also help boost the sustainability of the city, as fewer people would be driving to the center as part of their commute, thus leading to less harmful emissions, according to the mayor.

The Portuguese capital is not the only European city to turn the drastic drop in tourism into an opportunity to provide affordable housing to its residents. The deputy mayor of Paris in charge of housing said in May that COVID-19 and subsequent fall in short-term rentals provided the city with “a unique opportunity to switch properties previously listed on Airbnb to conventional rentals and ensure that they again benefit Parisians.”

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