Squatting is legal in Portugal and it is properly described in Article 1287º of the Portuguese Civil Code. Squatting is known in Portugal as “usucapião” which also means “adverse possession”.
For those of you who don’t know what Squatting is, it is the action of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied area of land or a building, usually residential, that the squatter does not own, rent, or otherwise have lawful permission to use.
The Portuguese Civil Code defines Usucapião in Article 1287º as the possession of the right of ownership or other real rights of enjoyment, maintained for a certain period of time, allowing the holder, unless otherwise stipulated, to acquire the ownership rights corresponding to its use.
It’s in article 1287º of the Portuguese Civil Code that grants property to people who will take care of abandoned properties or buildings for at least 15 years without any kind of contest by the owners on record.
For usucapião to be recognized, it is necessary to observe certain requirements specified in the law.
Good Faith (Squatting in Portugal)
The squatter and the owner must be on good terms.
Suppose there are two people. Anthony and Richard. Let’s assume Richard is the owner of an apartment and Anthony has a vacant lot in the neighborhood but it is unused and Anthony never comes to see it.
Richard cleans the field (lot) and turns it into a small vegetable farm. He tends his farm for at least 15 years and Anthony never says anything about it or takes any kind of action. By law, Richard has the right of usucapião and can register the land as his own.
If Anthony, before that time limit, found out that Richard has been using his land, then Anthony has the right to evict Richard.
Ownership must be by public deed and uncontested. When parties are assumed to be acting according to the covenant of good faith and fair dealings, then it is accepted that neither party will do anything to destroy the rights of the other party, or attempt to interfere with the benefits of the other party when entering into the contract.
Are there many squatters in Portugal?
Yes, there are many squatters in Portugal and most of them are immigrants. In rural areas, there are houses that are vacant and the owner of the house is unknown. In that case, the squatters go to the house and start living there.
Can you squat in a residential property in Portugal?
Squatting in a residential property in Portugal is illegal and against the law. If the owner complains, you can be arrested. If nobody leaves there, and it seems no one is coming back to live there, then there is a chance you could squat the house. But if the owner is present, you cannot squat a house in Portugal.
Is squatting a good thing?
It depends. If you are squatting land or an unused house, and taking care of the property, then it’s a good thing. But if you are misusing it, then you could be arrested too.
What do you think? Should Squatting be illegal in Portugal? Let me know in the comment section below.
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