PORTUGAL – Ending Golden Visas, New Airbnb Rentals

February 24, 2023

Portugal’s government is taking aim at “golden visas” and Airbnb rentals as part of a new package of reforms. Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced his intention to end his country’s golden visa program in a news conference on 16 February. The program granted non-European Union residents the chance to gain citizenship in return for an investment of at least €350,000 in real estate.

But this influx of foreign real estate investment is also being blamed for worsening a housing crisis in Portugal. While rental and house prices in Portugal have been climbing steeply, wages for Portuguese workers have remained flat. This has pushed housing in Portugal’s cities out of the reach of many citizens. For example, rental prices in Lisbon rose by 37% in just the past year. Costa said the suspension of the visa program is part of his government’s “fight against price speculation in real estate.”

Another aspect of the announced policy reforms is a ban on new short-term rental licenses in Portugal’s city centers. This policy takes aim at an increase in Airbnb rentals which have both reduced the housing stock available to city residents, while also pushing up rents on existing residential units. Often investment properties bought under the golden visa program would be rented as Airbnbs on the short-term market. While Portugal is not outlawing Airbnb rentals, the proposed reform will prevent the addition of new Airbnbs in Portugal’s cities.

Though the reforms were announced on 16 February, they will still need to be ratified by Portugal’s legislature before going into effect. Portugal’s suspension of their golden visa program comes just a week after Ireland ended its own foreign investment scheme. Golden visas are increasingly falling out of favor across Europe, with Spain also expected to wind down its program in the near future.