Can pets stop you from renting a property?

26 September 2019, Redaction

Searching for a property to rent can be a complicated mission, either because of a lack of availability or due to high prices. Can pets be another obstacle in this process? In this article, prepared by Deco (Associação Portuguesa para a Defesa do Consumidor), we explain what landlords and tenants can and can't do about "four-legged friends" if you decide to move your pet to Portugal.

I have two dogs. Can the owner refuse to rent me the flat?

The Portuguese Civil Code establishes non-discrimination for access to tenancy, "No one may be discriminated against for access to tenancy on grounds of sex, background or ethnic origin, language, territory of origin, nationality, religion, beliefs, political or ideological convictions, gender, sexual orientation, age or disability." However, the law says nothing about pets.

In 2017, a bill aimed at guaranteeing equal access to leases for tenants with pets had been discussed, but rejected.

Therefore, and since this situation is not covered by the aforementioned legal provision, the owner of the flat may refuse to rent the flat to you.

The legislation concerning pets in flats has remained in force and hasn't been amended. In other words, there has been no change in the maximum number of pets per household. In each apartment you can have up to three dogs or four adult cats, without exceeding four animals in total.

However, there may be exceptions if, at the request of the owner and with the binding opinion of the municipal veterinarian and the health representative, it is permitted to house up to six adult animals. Nor do the rules that safeguard the basic rules of hygiene, tranquillity and good neighbourliness change.

It must also be considered if the board of owners has previously imposed such a ban. This means that it has powers over the common areas of the building, but not over the dwellings, as this would already be interfering with everyone's right of ownership.

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