MAIS HABITAÇÃO (MORE HOUSING): WIRE PORTUGAL'S PERSPECTIVE
WIRE Portugal's vision of the Mais Habitação package, in a context where the housing crisis is already a reality that affects not only young people and the most vulnerable families, but is beginning to affect the middle classes on a large scale.
The President of the Republic vetoed the package of housing measures (Assembly of the Republic Decree No. 81/XV) on the grounds that it was not "sufficiently credible in terms of its implementation in the short term, and therefore mobilising for the challenge to be faced by all its essential protagonists - public, private, social and, above all, the Portuguese in general".
The housing crisis is a reality that affects not only young people and the most vulnerable families, but is beginning to affect the middle classes on a large scale. This is too important an issue to risk taking measures that not only don't seem to solve the problem, but could actually make it worse.
We all agree that we need to support families and create the conditions for them to have access to housing, but the solution lies in stimulating supply, lowering taxes and speeding up licensing.
The measures to be implemented as part of the Mais Habitação (More Housing) Package are clearly insufficient to resolve the housing crisis, first and foremost because they don't stimulate supply, they don't reduce the tax burden and they don't guarantee effective and safe simplification and speed in the urban planning procedures associated with the construction and provision of housing.
In fact, it is not the end of gold visas, which represent 0.6 % of all transactions in Portugal, nor the penalisation of local accommodation that will solve the housing problem. On the contrary, won't these measures stagnate important investments for the country?
When it comes to renting, for example, are landlords willing to put their properties on the rental market at the risk of waiting a year or more for them to be returned if the tenant doesn't pay the rent? Won't capping and freezing rents make the situation worse? In this respect, we mustn't forget the dilapidated state of our cities as a result of the rent freeze.
It is also important to bear in mind that the national market is made up of small landlords and not large landlords (70 per cent of permanent housing is owned by the occupants themselves and the remaining 30 per cent, the vast majority of which is rented, is also largely owned by private individuals) who, from the outset, will be faced with a type of (affordable) rent that, when transposed into any business plan, is unprofitable.
We therefore need to go further with tax incentives. In fact, the tax burden borne by property developers and passed on to owners or tenants is enormous:
- IMT of 6 per cent,
- Stamp duty of 0.8 per cent,
- non-deductible construction VAT of 23 per cent.
But there's more: to this 30 per cent is added IMI, AIMI and urban planning fees, taxes and compensation paid to municipalities. All this on top of the price of the property!
In short, it is anticipated that the overwhelming majority of the programme's measures will restrict, impose and prohibit, rather than stimulate and create effective (and non-political) conditions for what is crucial, in particular:
- increasing supply
- reducing the tax burden.
In this context, and instead of rushing to approve legal regulations, we should calmly stop to listen to and accommodate the many contributions that have been accumulating on issues that concern us all, trying to design measures that, instead of being controversial and questionable, are based on the practical experience of those who work in the property, construction and licensing sectors, etc., and effectively respond to the challenges that the times have thrown at us and which we are all responsible for resolving.