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Antony Antoniou – Luxury Property Expert

Addressing the UK’s Housing Crisis: Lessons from Portugal’s Approach

Addressing the UK’s Housing Crisis: Lessons from Portugal’s Approach


In recent years, the housing crisis has become a pressing issue in the United Kingdom. Rising house prices, soaring rents, and a lack of affordable housing have left many individuals and families struggling to find suitable accommodation. While the UK government has taken some steps to address the crisis, there is still much more that needs to be done. Looking across the border to Portugal, we find a government willing to take radical measures to tackle the housing crisis head-on. By implementing a ban on Airbnb rentals and exploring innovative strategies to combat vacant homes, Portugal offers valuable lessons for the UK to learn from.

Portugal’s Approach to the Housing Crisis

Portugal, like the UK, is grappling with its own housing challenges. With a significant portion of the population earning meager wages, the housing situation has reached a tipping point. In response, the Portuguese government has introduced a comprehensive plan to address the crisis. Their approach involves banning new Airbnb permits in many cities and compelling owners of vacant properties to lease them to the government for five years.

While the plan faces legal challenges, it has sparked a crucial conversation about housing as a basic human right. By reframing the issue, the Portuguese government aims to prioritize shelter for all citizens. This shift in perspective is something the UK sorely needs.

The UK’s Housing Crisis

In the UK, the housing crisis is no less severe. Skyrocketing house prices, rising rents, and stagnant wages have created an untenable situation for many. The average house price in England has risen by over 10% in the last year, while average wages have only increased by 6%. Rents have also surged, with London experiencing an increase of more than 15%.

While the UK government has introduced some measures to protect renters, such as the Renters Reform Bill, they fall short of addressing the root causes of the housing crisis. With over a million households on the social housing waiting list and hundreds of thousands of properties left vacant, there is an urgent need for more comprehensive action.

Learning from Portugal’s Example

Portugal’s approach to the housing crisis provides valuable insights for the UK. Firstly, the ban on new Airbnb permits is a step towards curbing the impact of short-term rentals on local communities. In popular tourist destinations like Devon, Cornwall, and Wales, these rentals have contributed to the hollowing out of towns and villages. By limiting the availability of Airbnb rentals, Portugal aims to restore the balance and prioritize housing for local residents.

Secondly, the proposal to compel owners of vacant homes to lease their properties to the government for five years addresses the issue of empty properties. In the UK, there are over 250,000 homes that have stood empty for at least six months, exacerbating the housing shortage. The Levelling Up Bill’s provision to increase council tax on vacant properties after one year is a timid step that fails to address the problem adequately. The UK government must explore more robust strategies to bring these properties back into use.


The UK’s housing crisis requires bold and decisive action. Portugal’s approach, with its ban on Airbnb permits and proposals to address vacant homes, offers valuable lessons for the UK government. By prioritizing housing as a basic human right and taking steps to ensure its availability, Portugal has set an example worth emulating. It is high time the UK government takes inspiration from these measures and takes radical steps to alleviate the housing crisis. Our communities and citizens deserve better.

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