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How to Rent a House in Portugal

Portugal has become an increasingly popular destination for those settling in Europe. However, renting in Portugal can be complex and challenging for newcomers. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide on how to rent a house in Portugal.

This comprehensive guide provides detailed and relevant information on the state of the Portuguese rental market in 2024, where you can look for long-term rentals, conditions and costs, tips and recommendations. Come find out more!

Frederik Pohl
Frederik Pohl, CEO
Make your house rental in Portugal easy and stress-free
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Portugal: Rental market in 2024

Due to increasing property demand, Portugal’s house prices and rents have been steadily growing in recent years. However, sales volume in 2023 slowed down due to inflation, high construction costs, and rising interest rates. But, naturally, urban areas like Lisbon and Porto have higher prices for long-term property rentals in Portugal, while secondary cities and rural regions offer more affordable options.

At the end of 2023, the average national rent was 7.71 €/m2, representing an 11.6% year-on-year growth. INE (National Statistics Institute) predicted that rents in the market would increase by 6-8% this year. So far, the institution has been proven right. According to Idealista, in April (2024), rents had already risen in many Portuguese districts compared with the previous year (April 2023):

  • Coimbra (+28,9%) – 800 €
  • Viseu (+26,4%) – 650 €
  • Castelo Branco (+18%) – 565 €
  • Braga (+17,6%) – 950 €

On the other hand, Leiria (5,1%) was the district with less grow in average rent in the same period, 850€. In general, Portalegre (380 €), Guarda (415 €), Bragança (450 €) and Vila Real (500 €) are the cheapest districts to rent a house in Portugal in April.

Lisbon remains the most expensive (1700€), followed by Porto (1200€), Setúbal (1200€), Santarém (1100€), and Faro (1100€).

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

Portugal offers various distinct regions, each with its atmosphere, cost of living, and unique characteristics. Here are some popular areas to rent in Portugal to help you start your search:

  • Lisbon: The vibrant capital offers a mix of culture, history, nightlife, and career opportunities. It is ideal for young professionals, digital nomads, and those seeking an urban lifestyle.
  • Porto: Portugal’s second-largest city is known for its stunning architecture, riverside setting, and traditional atmosphere. It attracts professionals from various fields and offers a better living cost than Lisbon.
  • Braga is particularly popular with the Brazilian community. It offers affordable living and a good quality of life. It is also the fourth biggest city in Portugal.
  • Algarve: This region is ideal for retirees and English speakers, with beautiful beaches and a warm climate. Vacation home rental options are also available and very popular.

The interior regions of Portugal are the cheapest but can be dull if you’re looking for a more active life. Facebook groups, Instagram and online forums are a great way to find out where the communities of people from your country are located. Meeting people who are going or have gone through the same process as yourself is always a great help!

rent a property in portugal
Residential properties in Portugal

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

You probably already have the basics of what you want in mind: apartment or house, outdoor space or not, garage or not, etc. The classification of the number of rooms can sometimes get you confused about Portuguese listings. Nevertheless, it is pretty simple when you get the hang of it.
If you have already began your search, you have seen the terms T0, T1, T2, etc. 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), the property has one extra small room, usually meant for storage and without any windows—basically, it can’t be a bedroom.
Now that you’re fluent in the language of house hunting in Portugal, we will introduce you to some good portals and platforms where you can find your new home.

Where should I look for a property to rent in Portugal?

There are many websites to choose from, but it’s always important to be aware of what’s available so that you don’t fall victim to a scam. 

Should I work with a real estate agent?

When looking at long-term rental, working with a real estate agent or company is recommended for foreigners.
Buyer’s agents have a thorough knowledge of the market and access to hidden offers. When you work with a company like Pearls of Portugal, the bureaucracy is taken off your hands, plus we help you with services such as setting up utilities, documents, and recommendations. Opting for an exclusive service package is definitely your best and most worry-free option.

Online Platforms

There are many online platforms on which to search for properties in Portugal. Websites like Idealista and Imovirtual provide the most extensive range of houses, but there are other options, such as the Pearls of Portugal real estate platform.

Others

Due to the many barriers, working with a real estate agent is the best option when coming to Portugal as a foreigner. However, if you believe that you can do it 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 it can quickly turn into a headache. If you just want to familiarise yourself with the market, we recommend you look through all of the websites mentioned. If you’re only looking for a short-term rental, platforms like Airbnb and Booking are your best choice, since the minimum duration of a typical rental contract in Portugal is one year.

Rental Costs and Conditions in Portugal

You have the market context, renting ranges, regions that can be a good spot, typologies, and where to look to search for a house… now, it’s time to enter the bureaucratic stuff. So there are some points that you need to check before going to the final stage of renting a house in Portugal.

Rental Costs

These are the two mandatory costs when you decide to rent a house in Portugal.

  • The amount of rent you need to pay upfront. Advance payment of rent is required to guarantee payment. Legally, the maximum number of advance rents is two, but some people still try to charge more. Be careful. 
  • The security deposit or ‘caução’, which is equal to a month’s rent, is a key part of the rental process. This amount is paid at the start of the rental period. It is held until the end of the contract and is intended to cover any damages caused by the tenant, ensuring the property’s condition is maintained. If the property is returned in good condition, the deposit is refunded. However, if there have been any intentional damages or breaches of the rental agreement, the landlord may deduct the cost of repairs from the deposit.
renting a home in portugal
Lisbon, Portugal
Tenant’s rights and duties in Portugal

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

  • Contract time. A typical rental contract in Portugal lasts a year and is renewable after that. However, this can be negotiated.
  • Providing temporary housing in case of construction in the home.
  • The right to make simple alterations, such as drilling on the walls, as long as they are fixed by the end of the contract.
  • Housing of maximum people not mentioned on the contract (although the tenant must be present so it does not count as subletting).
  • Canceling the contract before the supposed date as long as the warning is sent 60 to 120 days before (If you’re leaving because of work reasons, you’re excused from this deadline.)

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 neighborliness and noise (no noise from 10 pm to 7 am);
  • The expenses included in the rent vary according to the contract. Generally, the basic rent does not include water, electricity, gas, or internet fees;
  • Allowing the landlord to visit the property when needed;
  • Handing over the house in perfect condition at the end of the contract.

Are there any legal limits on house rents in Portugal?

If the property has had a lease agreement in place for the previous five years, the monthly rent may not exceed the value of the last rent practiced on that property, plus a coefficient of 1.02 (2%).

In cases where the rent in the previous contract did not exceed the price limit by type, the law does not specify or establish any specific limitation, so it could be understood that the landlord may freely negotiate with the tenant the monthly rent to be charged, without any restriction. Even so, there are some exceptions. Rents can rise by more than 2% in the following situations:

  • The rent is within the limits defined in the Rental Support Program.
  • The previous contract was not subject to permitted updates.
  • Landlord did construction work on the property.

Rental Contract in Portugal: Everything You Need to Know

This is a fundamental document that defines the terms and conditions of renting a property in Portugal. It is crucial to read the contract carefully before signing it to understand your rights and obligations as a tenant. Some of them we already mentioned, but they must also be present in this document.

  • Identification of the Parties: Full name, nationality, marital status, and NIF of the landlord and tenant.
  • Description of the Property: Full location, type (apartment, house, etc.), floor area, number of bedrooms, and other relevant characteristics.
  • Duration of the Contract: Minimum and maximum term, with start and end dates.
  • Rent: The monthly rent to be paid, the payment method (bank transfer, check, etc.), and the deadline for payment.
  • Security deposit: The amount to be deposited as a guarantee of the tenant’s compliance with their obligations, which is to be returned at the end of the contract, deducting any damages or expenses.
  • Included Expenses: Specification of the expenses included in the rent (water, electricity, gas, etc.) and those that are the responsibility of the tenant.
  • Subletting: Whether subletting is permitted and under what conditions.
  • Termination of Contract: Conditions under which both parties can terminate the contract.
  • Additional Clauses: Possibility of including specific clauses, such as a pet ban or commercial use of the property.

What documents are needed for the rental contract in Portugal?

  • Documents and identification: valid passport or ID;
  • Tax Identification Number (NIF): The NIF is necessary to carry out any financial transaction in the country. The lessor and the lessee must provide their NIF in the rental contract.
  • Proof of salary or income: Landlords always request proof of salary or income to assess the tenant’s ability to meet the monthly rent payment. This almost always includes the previous year’s IRS (Income Tax Return) and the last three pay stubs.
  • The need for a guarantor, ‘fiador’ and their documentation. Guarantors who agree to assume responsibility for the payment of rent in the event of the tenant’s default are also often requested. Guarantors usually provide personal and financial documentation to prove their solvency.
rent a home in lisbon portugal
Tenement houses seen from roof Hotel Mundial in Lisbon, Portugal

Tips for Renting an Apartment or House in Portugal

After all this, it is time for some quick tips to help you on this journey. Take note:

  • Define your budget: Determine how much you can afford to pay in monthly rent and expenses.
  • Research: Look for properties in different platforms, so that you have a clear understanding of the plethora of options.
  • Visit the properties, more than once if you can
  • Read the contract carefully: Make sure you understand all the clauses and conditions of the contract.
  • Negotiate: Don’t hesitate to negotiate the rent and contract terms.
  • Demand a receipt: Ask for receipts for all payments made.
  • Be aware of your rights: Know your rights as a tenant and seek professional advice if you have any doubts.
  • Keep a copy of the contract in a safe place.
  • Most importantly, remember to be aware of people taking advantage of you due to your foreigner status and your lack of knowledge.
Affordable renting in Portugal: Are there any programs?

At a time when rents represent a large slice of Portuguese families’ budgets, programs have been set up in some municipalities and national levels to allow people to rent housing at lower costs.

PAA (Affordable Rent Program)

Under the PAA, landlords can benefit from IRS or IRC exemption if they enter into contracts that meet the requirements of affordable rent.

Supported rental program

Supported rental is a program that applies to state housing rental, either directly or indirectly. In this scheme, as the name implies, rents are financed with state support and set according to the tenants’ income. Regarding applications, all nationals and foreigners (with a valid residence permit in Portugal) can apply if they are in poor housing conditions, in financial need, and have no alternative housing.

Porta 65 

If you are between 18 and 35, Porta 65 is another option. This program has been in place for several years and allows young people to receive financial support that reduces the amount they pay for their rent (fixed in the lease). 

Habitar Lisboa

If you live in Lisbon, the Habitar Lisboa platform is a simple way to find out about all the programs that exist to benefit from affordable rents. 

Porto Vivo, SRU

Porto Vivo can help you be adequately informed about the rental market, the programs in place, and how to benefit from affordable rents. Although this portal focuses on all the strategies implemented in housing, it answers various challenges tenants face when living in a rented house in Porto.

How can Pearls of Portugal help you with renting a home in Portugal?

If you’re considering moving to Portugal, know that Pearls of Portugal is an experienced team of local and native experts, eager to guide our clients through the rental process and all it comprises. We adapt our service to your requirements completely. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) regarding renting a property in Portugal

Normally, rental contracts have a minimum duration of one year in Portugal, with the possibility of automatic renewal, unless otherwise specified.

There are a number of real estate platforms available for you, like Idealista and Imovirtual. But working with a buyer’s agent like Pearls of Portugal or a real estate agent is always your best option.

Absolutely, as long as you provide all needed information, documents and identification. 

Yes, just recently the number of rental options in the country went up in several districts.

Well, there is, of course, the famous Algarve, but there are other options for locations of vacation homes in Portugal, such as Aveiro, Setúbal, Figueira da Foz, Nazaré, Ericeira and Aljezur. 

Popular websites like Booking.com and Airbnb are good options. But you can also find some through property management companies, like GuestReady and Ideal Homes.

Everything you need to know
Frederik Pohl
Frederik Pohl, CEO
Make your house rental in Portugal easy and stress-free
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