In 1975, if our sources can be trusted, a law was passed prohibiting the demolition of any building in Portugal. They need to be restored, instead. Apparently, there was also a law dating from about the same time that instituted rent control. Not coincidentally, the 1975 date was right after the Portuguese Carnation revolution that overthrew the long-time dictatorship and ended the ongoing wars in Africa. We were told that these laws were put into place to help those Portuguese who were returning to Portugal after the loss of the empire. More places for them to live and at reasonable prices.
Of course, over the following decades, the policies have made life very difficult for people who own buildings. They don’t make enough in rent to pay for necessary repairs and the buildings slowly disintegrate. The rent control law has been amended to make it apply only to the current occupant and not to the occupant’s descendents, as had been the case up until a few years ago. The law prohibiting demolition remains in place. We see lots of cranes and other indicators of restoration. But we also see great opportunity for would-be landlords. We also heard, however, that it costs so much to restore these old buildings that the resulting apartments are far too expensive for most locals to buy or rent. Bit of a dilemma.