Government gives clarification on Portuguese waterfront property grab

Published:  12 May at 6 PM
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Tagged: Property Abroad
The Portuguese government has given clarification on the proposed grab of waterfront properties in favourite expat destinations.

The government is planning to target properties built before 1951 and located on on valuable oceanfront land as well as those within 30m of river banks or lakes. The land grab is based on an old law and requires property owners to prove that the property has been subject to long-term private ownership.

The letter of the law demands proof that the land has been in residential use for 150 years, with the original 1 July deadline for presenting the necessary land registry documents now scrapped due to protests. However, homeowners are already complaining that the country’s land registry archives are incomplete, with few documents going back the required number of years.

Resident expats and Portuguese nationals alike are affected, with many arguing that, as their local land registry office approved the land purchase, they should be protected from government seizure of their homes. Most at risk are those already trying to sell their properties, as the law is expected to be tied to real estate sales, and many owners are fearing a repeat of the Spanish property scandal

However, the government is insisting it has the power to request the documents at any time and has three options as regards the properties. Firstly, it can reclaim the land and order the property to be demolished; secondly it can impose extra taxes on homeowners, and it can also give a right to occupy along with a 30-year lease.

Many of the earlier coastal developments could well be affected, and even local fishermen living in undocumented 300-year old cottages are threatened. The law applies not only to mainland Portugal, but also to the island of Madeira with its large number of heritage homes dating back to at least the 19th century.
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