A step by step guide to renting property in Portugal

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Photo by Nathalia Segato on Unsplash
16 September 2020, Emma Donaldson

Moving to Portugal is both exciting and daunting, and one of the biggest questions that arises amongst expats is whether to buy or rent property in Portugal. Today we are going to focus on renting for expats, a good option to try out a new area with a little less commitment than buying a property in Portugal.

Renting in Portugal can vary significantly across the country, especially between resorts and the main cities, in terms of both the cost of renting property and the type of rental contract that is available. Whether you’re looking to rent a sunny villa or a chic apartment in Portugal, you’ll find a wide range of properties for rent in Portugal‘s main cities. Here at idealista, we are here to help you every step of the way. Let’s have a look at renting property in Portugal with this step by step guide.

Searching for a property for rent in Portugal

The first step is of course finding the property that suits your needs. You may already have an idea of where you want to rent, or on the other hand, you might need some help knowing where the best places to live in Portugal are. The easiest way to find the property for you is by selecting potential homes from listings on property websites such as idealista, where you will be able to see a wide range of long-term rental properties across Portugal. You'll be able to select the criteria you wish, such as number of bedrooms, if the property has a swimming pool, size, amongst others, and remember, by moving a little bit outside the main cities, urban centres or tourist areas, you could save quite a lot of money per month.

Viewing properties in person

Although the digital age of the real estate sector has come along leaps and bounds, especially due to the COVID-19 crisis in Portugal, it is always a good idea to visit a property in person. Virtual tours are great for viewing properties from home and also a great way for you to whittle down a large list of properties to a few, but only when you’re there in person will you see any flaws that the property may have that aren’t visible in photos or videos.

Signing the contract

When renting property in Portugal, you will need to sign a rental contract (contrato de arrendamento). In order to be able to do this, you will need to already have a Portuguese tax number (Número de Identificação Fiscal or Número de Contribuinte). The contract should detail the length of the lease, when the rent is reviewed, and how much notice you must give if you wish to move out of the property. If these items are not specified in the rental contract, ask for them to be included. Some advertisers will also try and rent properties to you without a contract: if this is the case, avoid at all costs.

In many cases in Portugal, the legal side of renting can seem to be a little informal, something which can be a little alarming for expats at first. An example of this is that frequently, landlords don’t ask for references or conduct credit background checks at this stage of the process.

Paying the deposit

When renting a property in Portugal, it’s normal practice for landlords to ask for 2 months’ rent as a security deposit before you move in.

Unlike the rental market in some other European countries, in Portugal there is no set scheme for managing rental deposits, meaning that landlords can hold the deposit themselves for the duration of the tenancy. Landlords must then return the deposit once a tenant moves out, as long as the conditions of the contract have been obeyed. However, if you are suspicious or worried about not getting your deposit back, one option is to see if you can agree to place the deposit in what is known as an escrow account. If the landlord agrees, this account will keep your deposit safe and cannot be touched by either party during the rental period.

Getting the keys

Once all of the paperwork is complete, then the property is yours and you’re ready to move into your new home in Portugal! One advantage of renting a property in Portugal instead of buying one is the speed of the process. As long as the property is vacant and you don’t have to wait for other tenants to move out, then you may be able to move into your new home within just days.

At this stage, or possibly before with the contract signing, landlords in Portugal will also usually prepare an inventory. This inventory documents the current condition of the property and lists any items included. Check this carefully for anything which may be missing or incorrect, and while you are responsible for leaving the property in the condition in which you found it, keep in mind that general wear and tear is allowed.

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Ready to find the house of your dreams?

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