17 October, 2021       LISBON - MAX. Partly sunnyº, MIN. 03º

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Folders  |  Accommodation rental in Lisbon
Accommodation rental in Lisbon
Accommodation rental in Lisbon

Accommodation rental in Lisbon

When moving into a new city, the first priority is to find accommodation.

The vast majority will be looking for a house or an apartment to rent, since it is always troublesome to buy a property in a place one hardly knows.

As property rental goes, Lisbon is an expensive city, considering the general level of life of the population. Therefore, for the present moment and time to come, the city areas where housing conditions and infrastructures are excellent are very restricted.

Because of a law recently amended, rentals were fixed at a very low price, causing the degradation of the properties, since the owners preferred to leave them vacant rather than renting at a very low profit.

The newly introduced law (Nova Lei do Arrendamento Urbano) changed the situation, and nowadays it is much easier to find rental accommodation than it was a few years ago.

Lisbon's suburbs:


The most chic suburb of Lisbon. But do not expect to find broad, tree-lined avenues. Lapa is like most suburbs in Lisbon – the best mingles with the worst in a colorful melting pot. The difference is that in Lapa you will find more of the best and less of the worst. The apartments are usually planned with a view of the Tagus river and with a garage, sometimes even a small garden. It is also possible to find some townhouses. Being a chic suburb, it is expensive. Please note that social life is not one  of Lapa's strong points.

Amoreiras, Estrela, Rato and Príncipe Real suburbs – Located in the centre of the city, they are quite enjoyable to live in. There you can find very nice apartments but very few townhouses. Terraces do exist but are also rare. There you can find lively neighbourhood social life around the Príncipe Real Garden where, on Saturday mornings, one can find a market selling organic products. 

In Estrela one can also experience the same neighbourhood social life, even in its famous garden, known for its exotic botanical specimens. These neighbourhoods are well sought after and therefore expensive.

Chiado and Bairro Alto suburbs – Lisbon's historic suburbs with a lively atmosphere both during the day and at night. In Bairro Alto one can find apartments that are usually small but reasonably priced, although usually without a garage. One must be oblivious to the noise and just enjoy the local ambiance.

With regard to Chiado (right next to Bairro Alto), standards and prices rise. One can find some very nice apartments in this chic suburb of the capital. The main reason for such pleasant lodgings was the fire that in 1988 ravaged various blocks of the neighborhood. Out of the tragedy came the opportunity to rebuild the apartments according to modern stansards and technology while maintaining the old façades. It is quite a treat to stroll along Rua Garrett on a Saturday morning. Both tourists and locals mingle on the sidewalk cafés savoring a “bica” (typical Lisbon coffee) link with the article on A Bica. Some designer stores such as Hermés or Cartier complete the scene.

In Campo de Ourique suburb one can also find nice apartments but usually on a smaller scale. There, one can find lively atmosphere enhanced by the numerous small shops. One of the best food markets in the city is located here and functions every day of the week!

One must be aware that this neighbourhood lies beneath one of the flight-paths for planes approaching the airport. One usually and rapidly gets used to it but this folder would not be complete without mentioning it.

Alfama, Castelo and Graça – These are the oldest suburbs in Lisbon. Along their narrow streets one is quickly immersed in an atmosphere which shows Portuguese life at its most typical. They are quite modest suburbs but with plenty of charm and authenticity, where one can perhaps still find a golden nugget, meaning a nice apartment located on a pleasant and quaint street, with a view of the Tagus river. If this golden nugget comes with a garage and easy access to the river … Congratulations, you have made it!

The rental prices here are usually quite reasonable.

Embassy suburbs (Alcântara, Occidental Lapa) – Residential neighbourhood where one can find large, beautiful apartments. Against this is the fact that there is little social life and very few shops where one can do some late shopping before returning home. One can feel a bit of the urban life. When the wind blows west and southwest one can also hear the traffic noise coming from the 25 de Abril bridge.

Restelo - Also a residential suburb dating from the sixties and a bit off track (west of the city center). Here there is a greater possibility of finding a house, even with garden and a pool. Many foreigners and diplomats share rented houses in this beautiful neighbourhood. One can also find very nice apartments with a view of the Tagus river. In Restelo one already feels a bit out of town, for the avenues are wider and the views usually broader, with a sense of open space. At its limits, along the river bank, one can find the Jerónimos Monastery, the Belém Cultural Centre and numerous small, quaint restaurants. One cannot forget the bakery that makes the world famous Pasteis de Belém, typical Lisbon pastries (check folder on 2/3 days discovery of Lisbon).

Expo suburb – Modern residential suburb dating from 1997, located east of the city centre on the river bank. It offers a wide choice of nice functional flats with terraces overlooking the river. The Expo is like a modern city that developed from the 1998 World Exhibition. It became a success case since it did not simply transform into a dormitory suburb. Life there is quite confortable with modern and complete infrastructures. It can be quite enjoyable to roller skate, bike or simply stroll along its well-appointed riverbanks. As with everything, some love it, some hate it but one thing is certain; this suburb leaves no one indifferent.

Other suburbs in Lisbon – less sought after locations but where one can still find nice apartments with reasonable rental prices, are: São Sebastião, Arco do Cego, Saldanha, Estefânia as well as Campo Pequeno, near Campo Grande and a stroll away from Roma Avenue.

Baixa and Avenida da Liberdade – Unfortunately these suburbs are mostly occupied by offices and stores, with only a few living quarters offered in the market.

Lisbon’s coastline, Cascais – Cascais used to be a chic sea resort, located 30km from Lisbon. One can find a vast choice of apartments and houses along the shore between Lisbon and Cascais: Paço D’Arcos, Carcavelos, Estoril, etc… Against it, if one works in Lisbon or the children attend school there; take notice that A5 Cascais highway is usually quite jammed in the morning.

2) Rental Rates

Rental rates depend mainly on the geographical location within Lisbon;

Suburbs like Lapa, Restelo, Príncipe Real and Chiado are the most sought after and therefore the most expensive.

What one can usually expect in an apartment: big spaces, specially if one has lived in London or Paris.

In Lisbon apartments are usually spacious.

The kitchen might be equipped with top of the line appliances.

Some very nice old apartments can be found, although usually without a lift.

Other extras that should be taken into account when considering rental rates:

- Apartment with either terrace or garden are very rare in Lisbon. The lack of garden within a city is understandable but the lack of terraces is not as evident. It has to do with a specific cultural aspect of Lisbon’s inhabitants: they do prefer the closed balconies to terraces.

- One or two parking places. Rare amenity in Lisbon. Properties do go up in price when they have a parking space. One should account for a monthly fee of between €150 and €250 for the rental of garage space in Lisbon. How easy it is to find a parking space in the street varies from suburb to suburb. It would be a pity to miss renting a nice apartment just because it does not possess a parking space.

- Central heating. It might be unbelievable for an Englishman or a Frenchman that central heating is rare in old apartments and even in the renovated or brand new ones. One can say that temperatures are not very low in Lisbon, but it is humid. It might be possible to negotiate with the owner to install some heaters before renting the place. Obviously, this question depends mainly on the apartments exposure to the sun as well as the size and height of the rooms.

- A house or an apartment T4 (meaning 4 bedrooms). Houses with garden can mostly be found in the Restelo suburb or near the airport. Very seldom  can they be found in the centre of Lisbon. In Restelo, the houses are large with nice gardens and, sometimes, a pool. It is a rare luxury and one must count on, at least, €4.000 per month in order to enjoy such delightful surroundings. There can also be found some semidetached houses, less private and maybe without garage, for a rental price between €2.500 and €3.000. On the apartment side of the market the offer is varied as long as one does not look for more than 3 bedrooms. If one is in need of at least 4 bedrooms and wants them spacious, they do become more difficult to find. For the larger apartments one should expect rents somewhere between €3.000 and €4.000, depending on the suburb and other items mentioned above.

Some rental examples (July 2007):

- T2 in Lapa totally equipped with new appliances and 1 garage: €1.700 – Check housing ads on the site www.livinglisbon.com.

- T4 in Amoreiras with garage: between €2.500 and €3.000.

- T2 in Campolide with garage: between €1.100 and €1.300


3) Searching for Real Estate

In order to find accomodation in Portugal, one can either consult favorite sites, like ours, under the topic of rental ads or, can find small ads from both private individuals and real estate agencies which are partners of this site.

One can also directly consult sites belonging to real estate agencies that offer rental properties (take care that nowadays this does not apply all the time), consult both the online and the paper version of newspapers like Expresso, or go straight to the counters of the specialized agencies. Check the item real estate agencies.

One can also advertise on the Expresso site and wait to be contacted by private owners or real estate agents.

In Portugal one can find relocation societies that can help take care of legal demands when searching for accomodation.

Due to linguistic difficulties we advise the search to be done through an agency that will organize a visiting schedule, based on the housing criteria previously discussed between the parties. Take note that in Portugal agency fees are paid by the owner of the rental property. That is more than a good reason for one to use the services of one or more agencies.

Attention – Good houses for rental are scarce meaning that there are not many of them simultaneously on the open market. We would advise that once one finds accomodation that is appealing, not to take much time on deciding, for the risk of losing it to someone else is big.

We would not advise visits done a long time prior to the final move to Portugal (unless one is willing to pay rent for an empty house) for probably once one finally moves to Portugal and decides on a property previously seen, it will not be available anymore.

For the same reason that attractive rental properties are scarce, if one uses the services of more than one agency one should be careful not to visit the same property various times through different agencies. This might happen if characteristics are not very specific (for instance, house with garden in Lapa). Make sure that the property details from the agencies are as specific as possible. It will save you time.

Count on at least 3 days of visiting in order to have a good idea of the market and have ample variety to choose from.

If one works with a credible agency, the pre-selection of the properties will be done with attention and professionalism. If one searches alone, the following essential items should be taken into account:

- Exposure to the sun;

- Equipped kitchen/non-equipped kitchen;

- State of the floors (specially wooden parquet) and ceilings;

- Traces of humidity on floors and ceilings (specially if it is a top floor property);

- Plumbing;

- Window (double glazing is recommended);

- Electricity and gas;

- Condition of the bathrooms;

- Lifts;

- Garage;

- Public transports.

We recall that T2 means 2 bedrooms (plus living room, kitchen, etc…)

The rental can be negotiated.

One can also negotiate maintenance works against future rises in rent. Negotiations can vary from case to case. Maybe the rent demanded is reasonable and the property pleasing and everything comes to good end!

If one feels lost and needs support please do not hesitate to contact us! info@livinginlisbon.com

4) The legal aspects

In order to be validated, all rentals need a rental contract done in the proper manner. Portuguese law has recently changed the rental contracts.

Generally, the owner makes use of a model contract. One should still confirm if the contract is well written according to the new law.

In short, the contract should be written on normal paper and be done in triplicate. One should be sent to the Portuguese tax administration (this should be carried out by the landlord) in order to be registered and legal.

The contract must specify:

- The object of the location;

- The landlord´s identity;

- The tenant's identity;

- The duration of the rental (beginning and due dates) and the rental value;

- Reasons by which each part can terminate the contract;

- The form of payment;

- The obligations contained and not contained in the rental;

- The rights of visitation by the landlord;

- The general state of the property at the moment of rental (a listing can be attached to the contract).

In relation to stating in the contract the general state of the property, one should know that this is not a common practice in Portugal. The risks of such an oversight are mitigated by the fact that usually none of the parties can prove that eventual property damages occurred before or after rental. When damages to the property are quite obvious we would advise one to make a report of the state of the property and attach it to the contract. If using the services of an agency, ask them to do the same.

Concerning payment of the rent, Portuguese law states that when moving to the premises (against delivery of the key) the tenant should pay the first month as well as the second month in advance. The deposit will be returned at the end of the contract, unless any eventual reductions that might be made to cover for damages to the property, or gas, electricity and water billis regarding the last month or the last two months, depending on the billing frequency.

Agency or middleman charges and local taxes are, usually, covered by the landlord unless the contract clearly specifies the contrary.

The landlord is obliged to give the tenant a receipt against payment of the rent.

Certain landlords demand a third party to be financially responsible for the tenant, to ensure the proper payment of the due rent.

The rental contracts should have a duration of 5 years and usually demand a notice of 4 months in case of departure by the tenant. The tenant has to stay a minimum of 6 months. Altogether it yields a minimum of 10 months .

In case a contract with different conditions is needed, we advise the use of a lawyer to draw it up.

Before moving into the new accomodation:

Do not forget to change the reading devices for water, gas and electricity into one’s own name. Certain landlords might try to keep them in their name. This does not mean malice on their part,  rather it is done in order to avoid changing the contract names every few years. That being said, one might demand that they change them to one’s own name.

One has to check if the reading devices have not been disconnected and if so, ask to have them reactivated.

The insurance, which is legally demanded from the landlord, does not cover the furniture. One should therefore have an insurance made to cover that.

And that is all, folks! You have moved in!

If you have any suggestions, please be kind enough to leave them in our site.

Thank you.

See also our article about: Buying a flat or house in Lisbon

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