How to Rent an Apartment in Portugal

Renting an apartment in Portugal is definitely an option if you’re looking for a short-term adventure or to get a taste of the country before the big decision. It can also be very useful while in the viewing part of the buying process. Either way, it can get a little confusing, so we have assembled a thorough guide to make everything easier for you. When you choose to work with the rental service of Pearls, we take the whole procedure off your hands.  

When making this decision, there are obviously many things to consider, such as:

  1. Where to look
  2. If you want to work with an agency or private seller
  3. Documents you need
  4. City/region you want to rent in
  5. Typology of property 
  6. Condition of the property
  7. Your budget
  8. Requirements of the contract (duration, fees, guarantor) 

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Where should I look for AN APARTMENT to rent in Portugal?

There are many online platforms to search for apartments in Portugal. Websites like Idealista and Imovirtual provide you with the largest range of houses, but the vast majority of them are managed by real estate agents and/or companies. This is the case for another popular website – Remax. All of the properties on the website are their own. If you’re looking for short-term rental, then platforms like Airbnb and Booking are your best choice, since the minimum duration of a typical rental contract in Portugal is one year.

When coming to Portugal from a different country, working with a real estate agent is your best option, due to the many barriers. However, if you believe that you can do it by yourself, Facebook Marketplace and OLX are the main platforms where individual people put up their properties for rent. This is, in most cases, cheaper, but can quickly turn into a headache. If you just want to get familiarised with the market, we recommend you look through all of the websites mentioned. 

Should I work with a real estate agent like Pearls of Portugal?

As previously stated, working with a real estate agent or company is definitely recommended for foreigners. Agents have a thorough knowledge of the market and access to hidden offers. On top of that, when you work with a long-term rental service, like Pearls of Portugal, the bureaucracy is taken off your hands, you save a lot of time, plus we offer help with setting up utilities, documents and we give you personalized recommendations.

Most landlords rent their apartment through real estate companies, so making a deal person-to-person is a bit difficult. You should also be aware that there may be a language barrier and possible preconceptions about foreigners that can result in an inflation of the price or the rental conditions (which we’ll look at in a bit).

What documents do I need to rent in Portugal?

The documentation you need to rent depends a little on the seller or the rental company but these are the usual:

  • A Portuguese Tax Number (NIF)
  • Valid ID
  • Proof of current address (like a contract or utility bill)
  • The guarantor’s ID (in case you need one)
  • Proof of employment, in some cases
how to rent a property in portugal

How to choose which city or region in Portugal to rent in 

This is something that should mainly depend on your living preferences and on your budget. Porto and Lisbon are amazing, big cities but, precisely because of that, they have become quite expensive. The interior regions of Portugal are the cheapest but can be dull if you’re looking for a more active life. If you were enchanted by Portugal due to the tales of amazing weather and sandy beaches all year round, then the coastal South is perfect for you.

You should also get informed (through Facebook groups or online communities, for example) on where the communities of people from your country are located. Meeting people that have gone through the same process is the biggest help of all. 

For example, there’s a quite big Brazilian community in Braga; a West-Asian one in Lisbon; an English one in the Algarve (great for retirees), and so on. When you work with Pearls, you tell us all about your preferences and conditions and we point you to the areas that make the most sense for you. 

Typology of apartments in Portugal (T0, T1, T2)

You probably have the basics of what you want in mind already: apartment or house; outdoor space or not; garage or not; etc. What can make Portuguese listings confusing sometimes is the typology of the number of rooms. Nevertheless, when you get the hang of it, it is quite simple. 

You have probably wondered what T0, T1, and T2 mean. Basically, the “T” stands for “tipologia” and the number represents the number of bedrooms in the house – not including the living room, kitchen, and bathrooms. When listings include a “+1” (like T1+1), it means the apartment has one extra small room, usually meant for storage and without any windows – meaning, basically, that it can’t be a bedroom. 

Condition of the property

This is a pretty simple step when renting. These are the basics when thinking about the condition of a property:

  • When the property was built
  • If the isolation is good
  • Signs of mold or water infiltration
  • Condition of the windows
  • The appliances you need (smaller places especially sometimes don’t come with a washing machine or oven, for example)
  • How old the appliances are and if they still work nicely
  • If the house is furnished and, if so, the quality of the furniture

Also, although not related to the home itself, you should take into account its immediate surrounding area. Closeness to main roads, train lines or airports can make it quite noisy, as well as places known for their nightlife scene. This is a prevalent issue in some popular neighborhoods in Lisbon, like Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodré, for example. 

Your budget

As stated before, renting prices in Portugal differ greatly from city to city. The difference is especially big between the coast and the interior regions of the country. Rent in major cities, like Porto and Lisbon, has been going up consistently. Other prevalent cities like Braga, Faro, Coimbra and Setúbal have also seen rises in the past few months. 

The more you go into the interior of the country, the cheaper rent gets.

Accessible rent program

PAA (“Programa de Arrendamento acessível”) is an accessible rent program designed to help lower-income people and displaced students. It grants IRS or IRC exemption for rents from contracts concluded within its scope.

The rent must be at least 20% lower than a reference value calculated on the basis of various factors, such as the area of the accommodation, the median price published by INE, the typology and other specific characteristics of the accommodation. The term of the lease must be a minimum of 5 years (or 9 months in the case of displaced university students).

Anybody can apply for the program; however, in order to be accepted your earnings must be below a certain value – which also depends on various factors, such as the city/region the property is located in, if you have children or not, etc. You can simulate your case here.

What you need to apply for the Accessible Rent Program in Portugal
  • Valid ID
  • Portuguese NIF
  • NISS (Social Security Number)
  • Declaration of earnings 
  • IRS declaration, when applicable
Requirements of the rental contract in Portugal

A typical rental contract in Portugal usually has the duration of a year and is renewable after that. However, this can be negotiated. What commonly varies the most is:

  • The amount of rents you need to pay upfront
  • The need for a guarantor
  • The security deposit (which equals a rent)
  • The amount of time you have to let the landlord know your intention to leave (and vice-versa)
  • If you are allowed to change things like fixtures or drill on the walls

You can see an example of a contract here. As we said before, be aware of people taking advantage of you due to your foreigner status and your lack of knowledge. 

Tenant’s rights

Legislation in Portugal protects tenants in various situations, such as:

  • Providing of temporary housing in case of construction in the home
  • The right to make simple alterations such as drilling on the walls, as long as fixed by the end of the contract
  • Housing of maximum three people not mentioned on the contract (although the tenant must be present, so as for it to not count as subletting)
  • Cancelling of the contract before the supposed date as long as the warning is sent 60 to 120 days before
    • In case you’re leaving because of work reasons, you’re excused from this deadline
  • The right to set up a small business in the home (such as hair styling, nails, computer repairing, etc) 
Tenant’s duties in Portugal

Tenants must also abide by the rules. These could be specific to your contract but there are some general duties, such as:

  • Paying the rent on time
  • Abiding by the laws on good neighbourliness and noise (no noise from 10pm to 7am)
  • Paying the respective utilities (if that falls on you, which is common)
  • Allowing the landlord to visit the property when needed 
  • Handing over the house in perfect condition at the end of the contract

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