In Portugal, “alojamento local” have more and more fans who consider this modality to be a great business opportunity, and the truth is that it is. But you are wrong if you think that to have a local accommodation (AL) you just need to have a property and promote it through advertisements until you find the guests you are looking for. We are progressively entering a more competitive market and it is mandatory to register and make the AL official for it to start operating.
Local accommodation is an establishment that aims to provide temporary accommodation services for remuneration and in compliance with the requirements established by law. It is a furnished and equipped space, where the public is offered, in addition to overnight stays, additional services such as cleaning, for periods of less than 30 days.
Local accommodation can be divided into four types of modalities
- Accommodation establishment – this modality includes hostels, if they function as a dormitory.
Tourist developments are excluded from the definition of local accommodation.
General, security and occupancy requirements
According to the Decree-Law, local accommodation establishments must respect a set of general requirements, security and occupancy limits.
- Each owner or holder of a local accommodation operation may operate more than nine units, as long as it does not exceed 75% of the number of existing fractions or independent parts of the building. Otherwise the nine units are the limit.
- The maximum capacity of AL establishments is nine rooms and 30 users. With the exception of hostels, which have no capacity limit, and rooms, which cannot exceed three rooms in the residence.
- The capacity of local accommodation is limited depending on the characteristics of the dwellings, and cannot exceed the number that results from multiplying the number of rooms by two, it being possible, in the case of apartments and houses, to accommodate two more users in the living room.
- In all types of accommodation, if they have adequate living conditions, up to two additional beds can be installed for children up to 12 years old.
This activity can be carried out by natural or legal persons, and it is always necessary to obtain a local accommodation license. Otherwise, and if you advertise an AL without registering it, the probability of getting a fine is very high.
How to register a Local Accommodation?
Registration is carried out through prior communication with a deadline, addressed to the mayor of the competent municipal council, through the Electronic Single Desk.
1- Open activity in finance
Firstly, it must open activity in finance for the provision of accommodation services (section I, subclasses 55201 or 55204 of the Portuguese Classification of Economic Activities, Revision 3, approved by Decree-Law No. 381/2007).
2- Gather all the necessary paperwork
The second step is to assemble all the necessary bureaucracy for the follow-up of the process. The documents you will need are:
- Simple copy of the identification document of the holder of the accommodation (in the case of a natural person) or access code to the permanent certificate of the commercial register (in the case of a legal person);
- Term of responsibility of the owner regarding the suitability of the building or autonomous fraction;
- Simple copy of the urban property booklet of the property in question;
- Simple copy of the lease agreement – if the lease agreement does not contain authorization for the provision of accommodation services, a simple copy of the document with the aforementioned authorization must be attached;
- Simple copy of the statement of initiation or alteration of activity presented to the AT;
- Minutes of authorization from the shareholders’ meeting, in the case of hostels;
- Mention the type of establishment that will be developed within the scope of the local accommodation activity.
Be aware that this activity may conflict with the interests of other residents, particularly in the case of local accommodation in condominiums, where there is a risk of disturbing the rest and rest of the usual residents.
Once all the bureaucracy has been gathered, the registration is carried out electronically at the Entrepreneur’s Desk / Citizen’s Portal (Balcão Único Eletrônico).
Within 10 days, or 20 in the case of a hostel, the AL registration number is issued by the national register of establishments and local accommodation, provided that no impediments are verified. You should pay attention throughout the process as the authorities can refuse the request for several reasons, such as:
- Request with errors;
- Lack of requested documentation;
- Property located in an area with restrictions on the registration of new local accommodation, due to the high number of registrations already existing in that location.
This document, which is basically the license for your local accommodation, contains the registration number and constitutes the opening to the public and publicity title for the establishment on the various booking platforms or on its own website.
Within 30 days, after the presentation of the prior communication, the city council will carry out an inspection to verify compliance with the requirements laid down for local accommodation establishments.
Some responsibilities of an AL owner
There are also imposed a set of rules that owners must comply with, such as:
- Obligation to have a complaints book. As in any other establishment, local accommodations are also obliged to present, whenever required, the complaints book.
- All establishments must be signposted with an identification plate.
- Ensure good hygiene and well-being conditions for guests.
- Acquisition of insurance covering a number of risks, namely fire.
- The AL must have emergency equipment, such as a fire extinguisher and fire blankets. In addition, the national emergency number (112) must be in a visible place;
- You must notify the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) if the property is rented to a foreign citizen. This communication must be made within three days after the entry and exit of the foreign citizen by completing an accommodation form.
Don’t forget that once you open a finance activity, you must take into account some taxes, such as the IRS. Income subject to this tax may be taxed under the rules of category B (business and professional income) or category F (property income). In addition to the IRS, you also have other obligations, such as VAT and IMI.
We warn of the possibility of changes in laws regarding local accommodation and also of possible special rules for specific locations. Therefore, if you are thinking of investing in this type of business, we appeal to the importance of always being duly informed. You can find out more on the ePortugal website.