Finding your perfect home in a new country is not an easy process. However, after signing a lease with a landlord, there are a few things you should do to avoid potential problems and/or make your life more comfortable.
Think about terminating the contract
Yes, that's right. You've just signed a lease for the minimum term you need, but it's already worth keeping in mind when you potentially want to terminate it. After all, there are numerous mandatory conditions for terminating the agreement. These include sending a registered letter in advance informing you of your departure date:
- for 1/3 of the initial term specified in the contract – for contracts of less than six months;
- 60 days (2 months) for contracts with a duration equal to or longer than six months and less than one year;
- 90 days (3 months) for contracts with a duration equal to or longer than one year and less than 6 years;
- 120 days (4 months) for contracts of 6 years or longer.
The procedure is simplified if you have a clause in your contract that communication by email is equivalent to sending a letter, then you will be able to send the notice by email for free and more quickly.
Since at first, you may not have the vocabulary to write such a text, here is an example of a letter that you can send to your landlord to notify him of your desire to terminate the agreement.
Caro Name and Surname of Landlord,
Serve a presente carta rescisão contrato para lhe comunicar, tendo em consideração as normativas estipuladas por lei, a minha intenção de cessar previamente o contrato de arrendamento que celebrámos em date, month and year of signing the lease agreement.
Esta carta refere-se especificamente ao arrendamento do imóvel sito em property address.
Comunico-lhe, portanto, a intenção de desocupar o imóvel até the date by which you agree to vacate the premises.
Your name and surname.
Occasionally, the relationship with the landlord is much simpler, and it is possible to move out without meeting these deadlines, but to avoid mishaps, in our opinion, it is better to comply with such simple formalities (even if you cannot meet the above deadlines).
Check the apartment for defects, check the operation of appliances
The obvious defects are likely to have been discussed and fixed with the landlord before signing the contract. However, it is still worth checking the operation of all appliances, especially the gas boiler. It is best to ask the landlord about the gas boiler inspection certificate, which he is obliged to do every 5 years if the boiler is older than 10 years. You are not technically obliged to provide this paper before you sign a contract, but you can ask for it. You can find more information about when gas boiler inspections must take place, for example, on the website of the energy supplier edp.
All photos and descriptions of defects or non-working appliances should be emailed or at least messaged to the landlord. The landlord must replace any appliances that don't work. And the work you have done will help you get your deposit back in the future.
Please note that it is better to record every manipulation you carry out in the apartment with the landlord. We were told about a case when tenants fixed the remote control from the gas boiler by wrapping it with tape, which was later used by the landlord as a reason not to return the deposit. These cases are probably the exception rather than the rule, but we recommend that you record what is happening and get approval for your actions.
Registration of the lease agreement with the tax authorities (AT)
This point lies with the landlord, but it is also crucial for you. The landlord, according to Portuguese law, has 30 days to register from the moment the contract is signed.
If you have just arrived in the country and are hoping to obtain residency, it is important to show that you are renting officially and in accordance with the rules. The contract and monthly payment receipts from your landlord, who has registered the contract with the AT (Finanças portal), will help prove this.
By the way, let's clarify that if there are two of you adults in a common-law or legally married couple, it's also significant that you are both listed on the contract. As well as spell out with the landlord that you should be billed on two tax numbers, NIF, (50% / 50% split)
If you already have a residence, officially renting a home with monthly receipts can also help you reduce your tax base. If you rent for permanent residence, the state will refund you 15%, up to a maximum of €502. By the way, in this case too, it will be useful for you to specify both adults in the rental agreement and split the receipts. Because then your family will be able to deduct this amount in double if both adults work.
The only clarification is that we found information online that landlords aged 65 and over are not obliged to register the contract with the tax office. And in this and any other case, we recommend that you talk through the details of registration, payment rules and receipts right before signing the contract.
It should be understood that an unregistered rental agreement, formally, of course, is a contract, but will not seriously protect you in case of disputes or inadequate actions for the landlord. It will not allow you to get receipts, tax deductions and, of course, will not allow you to start life in Portugal with the right step. On the other hand, of course, this document is bilateral and imposes responsibilities on you as a tenant as well.
Changing your tax address on the Finanças portal
Changing your tax address is imperative in the very first instance. Especially if this is your first lease, and you have previously used a different address to get your NIF and your access to the financial portal.
This is a link to the section on the financial portal where you need to do this (it will take you to the correct section if you have already logged in to the portal).
If you did not have access to the tax office from the beginning, we recommend changing your password and the secret question used to recover it.
Re-registration of water, gas, electricity and internet contracts
Once you have a signed contract in hand and your arrival date has arrived, you can (must, unless otherwise agreed) sign utility contracts. This can be done at company offices or sometimes at the Citizen's Shops (Loja de Cidadão) if there are representatives of a particular service provider there. If you are a married couple (civil or legally married), it is recommended that some contracts are for one person and some for the other. This will again be useful in the future, as in different situations they ask for proof of residence, including the last utility bill in your name.
At this point, you have two main options for action:
- Decide that the current suppliers are happy with you and simply change the name on the contract.
- Decide that you need another supplier and sign a contract with a new contractor. Judging by the information on the Internet, it is not difficult to do this now. It does not require any installation of additional equipment or the arrival of a master, but how it happens in practice, we do not know yet.
With Internet services, everything is somewhat simpler. Practice has shown that the landlord can call the company and reissue payments to you, and after your confirmation, you can access a personal account to control the financial part. Or you can get help directly from the supplier's store.
It is quite problematic to change the operator here, as most often contracts are concluded for two years with paid termination.
If you don't have internet in your apartment yet, and you would rather not sign a contract, realizing that you won't live in the apartment for two years, the operators have a solution in the form of equipment for mobile internet distribution.
If you have entered into a lease to move out of another apartment, it is worth checking that the previous landlord has reissued all the contracts back to you. You should not delay with this, as the reissue process itself can take a few days after the landlord has applied. By the way, EPAL, for example, allows the landlord to reissue the contract back in his or her name over the phone. Other providers may also have this service.
Where else should you be concerned about changing your address:
- At the Social Security Office (Segurança Social). This is done in your personal account, in the personal data section.
- At the Health Service. You can't do this on the website in your personal profile with your personal data yet, so you can call the hotline.
- At the SEF or the town hall (câmara municipal), depending on which organization issued your residence. We have not yet found a way to update this information online.
- At IRN you need to update your car documents (you do not need to update your address in your driving license). The renewal procedure and the new plastic card itself, which will be delivered to the new address, will cost you 35 euros at the time of writing. IRN branches can be found in the Citizen's Shops (Loja de Cidadão). Occasionally, there's a message hanging there that if you're an expat and don't understand Portuguese, you need a translator. Don't let this sign scare you off. All you have to do is fill out a simple form in writing, which is only in Portuguese. Google translator will help you with that. And the ad is because this organization provides notary services. And in the case of more complicated processes, it's their responsibility to make sure that you understand what you're signing
- Through your insurance agent, it is worth changing the address that the insurance company has.
If you have a pet
- The address on the chip must be changed. This can be done through a veterinary clinic, e.g.
- It is also necessary to re-register your pet at the new address. We wrote more details, including how and where to register your pet, in this article.
We have collected steps that, we think, are important according to our practice. If you have recommendations based on your experience, we look forward to your comments on this article.