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Why will the Housing Referendum in Lisbon focus on holiday rentals?

Why will the Housing Referendum in Lisbon focus on holiday rentals?

The housing referendum in Lisbon will focus on holiday rentals for 4 main reasons. The first is because holiday rentals are one of the causes why it has become so difficult to afford a home in Lisbon. Housing prices in the municipality have risen by 118.51 % since 2014, precisely the same time frame in which holiday rental registrations have increased by 1993 %. In the parishes with most holiday rentals, as is the case of Santa Maria Maior, Misericórdia, Santo António, São Vicente e Arroios, holiday rentals occupy more than a third of the housing stock. On the one hand, homes are being used as tourism accommodation, on the other, there are ever fewer homes for long term rental and at prices we can afford. In September 2020, at a time when holiday rentals were in low demand because of the pandemic, there were 6,143 homes advertised on the Idealista long-term rental platform, but today there are less than half in the entire city. Similarly, rents stopped rising that year, but now that tourism has returned, housing has become more expensive again. The correlation is very clear. Furthermore, the conversion of homes into holiday rentals has led to evictions and the displacement of residents from the city's neighbourhoods. The neighbourhoods in the historic centre alone - Misericórdia, Santo António, Santa Maria Maior and São Vicente - which are the neighbourhoods with the most holiday rentals, have lost 8311 residents in the last decade. For years now, we have been forced to move out from the neighbourhoods we inhabited; today it is impossible to find homes we can afford in Lisbon. We need to join forces to change this situation.

The second reason has to do with the transformation holiday rentals causes in our neighbourhoods. Holiday rentals accommodate tourists and other forms of temporary place consumption - a consumption that does not generate neighbourhood ties neither creates community. There are cases of people who live in increasingly isolated situations because those who used to live nearby were displaced to give room to transient consumers. In addition, the use of the city as a leisure centre causes daily conflicts such as noise, dirt, overcrowding of public spaces and the disappearance of local shops. Residents are leaving Lisbon not only because of rising housing prices, but also because of the lack of quality of life caused by the transformation of neighbourhoods into tourist areas. We want to be able to live in a Lisbon with neighbours, with people who stay longer and who we can count on daily. We want to build a more supportive city where the permanence of everyday life is more important than the temporary consumption of the spaces we inhabit and want to inhabit.

Thirdly, the Referendum will be about holiday rentals because we have an important Supreme Court of Justice ruling on our side. In April 2022, the Supreme Court of Justice handed down a judgement stating that holiday rentals cannot take place in buildings intended for residential use. However, today there are more than 20,000 apartments registered as holiday rentals in Lisbon and the City Council continues to accept registrations in buildings for residential use. We want to force the Lisbon City Council to recognise this Supreme Court decision so that the houses comply with their social function: housing. The houses that exist should be used for people to live in, not to lodge tourists and other forms of temporary consumption.

Finally, the last major reason why the Referendum in Lisbon will focus on holiday rentals is also a legal one. By law, a local referendum in Portugal can only take place if the questions to be answered fall within the competence of the municipality. Holiday rentals is an issue that we can take to the ballots in the municipality of Lisbon because there is a municipal regulation on holiday rentals - the RMAL - on which the questions of the Referendum will focus. Changing the way the Lisbon City Council deals with holiday rentals - forcing it to recognise that tourism accommodation is not the same as housing - is one of the tools of direct democracy we have in order to assert our right to live in the city.

We are collecting signatures and building movement in the streets. We need hands, visions, ideas, dreams and poetry to take this forward. Join us! Write to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Reclaiming Lisbon is in our hands.

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