When moving to Portugal many people want to rent before they take the
next step and buy a property. For many reasons, but especially to make sure
that the area is nice and if that is actually the place where they really want
to settle. However, what seems like a fantastic option can easily become a
nightmare from the first day you start looking at properties online.
Although not compulsory, it is very common to see landlords asking for
deposits and there is nothing wrong with this from a legal point of view.
Landlords have the right to ask for a deposit.
The deposit works as a guarantee. The landlord can require the tenant to
pay a deposit in order to prevent any damage the tenant may cause to the
property during the period of time the tenant is living there.
According to Inês Pacheco, legal advisor at DECO: "the existence of
a deposit and its amount should always be included in one of the contractual
clauses. The law does not establish any limit, and it is up to the landlord and
tenant to agree on the amount of the deposit. Normally, the amount is set
taking into account the rent, corresponding to one or two months rent”.
If the property has been well looked after and the tenants have not
caused any damage to the house, when the contract ends it is time for the
landlord to give the money back to the tenant. However, there are situations
that do not end like this.
The Portugal News has received reports from people revealing situations
where the landlord says (after the tenants have left the house) that the
property requires extra cleaning, repairs, etc., and for this reason the deposit
will not be returned to the tenant's pocket. At first, this situation seems
normal, but the problem comes when the tenant believes this to be false.
According to Inês from DECO: "At the end of the rental contract, if
there is no need to carry out any repairs, the landlord cannot keep the amount
of the deposit".
To avoid this type of problem, Inês recommends that tenants "do the
inspection together with the landlord when leaving the property and evaluate
together the state of the property. During the visit, the tenant can also take
pictures of the property to prove that it is in good conditions. If this
doesn't work, tenants can take the landlord to court to get their money
It is important to note that a deposit and the advance payment of rent
are not the same thing. “The advance payment of rents means that the tenant, at
the commencement of the lease, will pay more than one rent to the landlord.
Once again, if such a regime is agreed between the landlord and tenant it must
be included in the lease agreement”, she said.
Contrary to what happens in terms of the deposit, the advance rent
payment has a maximum limit of three rents.
"In practice, when advance payment of the rent is made, the tenant
will not need to pay the last rents set in the contract”, Inês added.
Another problem that many tenants complain about is the constant
increase in rents. However, this is not legal unless it is done under the
The rent increase can only happen if it is written in a clause of the
lease. Otherwise, it must follow the "coeficiente de atualização de
rendas" for each year.
In this sense, the update can only be done after one year of the
beginning of the contract, by registered mail with acknowledgement of receipt
or delivered by hand with the tenant's signature. This letter must mention the
increase and from when it is due.
It is always important to remember that these increases can only take
place after the 12 complete months of the lease and can never be superior to
the referred "coeficiente de atualização de rendas" (unless written
in the contract).
Paula Martins is a fully qualified journalist, who finds writing a means of self-expression. She studied Journalism and Communication at University of Coimbra and recently Law in the Algarve. Press card: 8252