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The right of preference: who it applies to and how it works

The right of preference applies to the purchase or sale of a property. In practice, it works as a legal means to give preference to a certain person or entity, in the purchase or sale of the property in question.

Who does it apply to?

This is a legal right, provided for in article 65 of the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic, and in DL no. 89/2021, of November 3, in which whoever is selling has the obligation to give priority to the holder of this right ( tenants or public entities).


Tenants can enjoy the right of preference when purchasing the property, as long as they meet certain requirements: they have been living in the property for a period of more than two years, and they intend to buy the house as their own home.

Do not forget that the tenant loses the right of preference in cases where he wants to buy the house for local accommodation purposes or for rent.

In practice, this means that, if, for example, you own a property (and it has been rented for more than two years) and you intend to sell it, the tenants who live there have the right of preference to wanting to buy the house, equally to all those interested in purchasing the property.

The landlord of the property must send a registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt informing the tenant that he is going to sell the house and the price. In this way, if the tenant meets the requirements mentioned above, he can, within 30 days, respond to indicate his intention to enjoy the right of preference.

However, it is necessary to know whether the property is located in an area where public entities may have preemptive rights over the house.

Public Entities

If the property is in the so-called urban pressure zone (ZPU) or in areas previously identified in the National Housing Program, public entities have the right of preference in these cases. By public entities we mean local authorities, municipal councils, the State and, of course, the autonomous regions of Madeira and the Azores.

Urban pressure zones (ZPU) are areas where, as a rule, housing supply is scarce or inadequate compared to what most people can afford. This is a problem that has been affecting more and more young people in Portugal, but also families with incomes well below the average.

Municipal councils are the priority entity to be able to exercise the right of preference (in second place are the autonomous regions of Madeira and Azores and lastly the State), as long as the property is located in an area of urban pressure, in a protected or rehabilitation area and has been classified or is in the process of being classified.

To solve the housing problem, local authorities, chambers and autonomous regions make use of the right of preference in these areas, previously delimited and approved in the Official Gazette and published in the municipal bulletins and on the municipal councils' website. This delimitation lasts for five years, and may undergo changes with a view to reduction or expansion, depending on criteria defined in Decree-Law No. 67/2019, of May 21st.

ZPUs can also include properties that have been vacant for more than two years and are located in the delimited areas.

My property is in a ZPU – what should I do?

You can find out if your house is located in an urban pressure zone by checking the Diário da República website, the city council website or the municipal bulletin where the property is located. You can also consult the website of the Directorate-General for Cultural Heritage for properties that have not yet been classified (but are in the process of being).

Read the full report here.

Source: Supercasa


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