Skip to main content

WHAT ACTS OF DUE DILIGENCE ARE GENERALLY CONDUCTED WHEN BUYING A PROPERTY?

Due diligence is the act of an investigation of a business or person prior to signing a contract. When buying a property there are minimum checks that you must do.

Real estate registry
The registry has a record of property ownership, with a complete description of each property on a material, economic and fiscal level, being able any citizen to require information regarding an enrolled building in the Registry. Thus, to analyze the “history” of the property, it is necessary to require the emission, of a document certificate of the full record of the title and dealings regarding the property.

For that purpose the registration record number or the property's full address is required. Mainly the register is consulted to check whether:
- the property is registered in the name of the person or company claiming to be the owner;
- there are any liens;
- any seizure as been registered.

The land registry is where you can obtain copies of land registry certificates.

Tax office 
It is also common to seek information on the tax office of the property's area, to check if it is registered and if so, to obtain the following information:
- the property registration number;
- the estate value;
- to know if any rental contract has been declared (although there is a possibility that the owner did not submit a copy to the local tax office).

The properties are enrolled in accordance with a number. These numbers, assignment of articles, are called "matriciais". The document that demonstrates the fiscal situation of the property is named "Caderneta Predial". In Portugal the property is either rustic, urban, or mixed (rustic and urban).

Check whether the details on the "caderneta predial" are consistent with the land registry certificate - a final deed can not be signed without it.

City Council
It is also possible to go to the City Council in order to check if the property is licensed (housing, commerce or other) or if development is planned or what type of land are surround by and the likely level of building to take place in future.

Unit-holders Association 
If it is a flat you are about to buy, the following information could be obtained from the unit-holders association:
- the management and service cost;
- if there are any outstanding payments;
- the unit-holders association's regulations.
You will have to pay community fees for the maintenance of communal areas. The charges are calculted on the basis of each owner's share.
It is also wise to obtain the rules of the condominium.

POPULAR

WHAT IS THE MOST COMMON FORM OF SECURITY TAKEN OVER REAL ESTATE IN PORTUGAL?

There is three standard security taken over real estate: voluntary mortgage, retention of title and seizure. Concerning mortgage, it should be formalised through public deed or by a certified private document. To produce its legal effects, a mortgage must be registered at the land registry office. As for the retention of title, it should be incorporated using a duly authenticated contract or public deed and is also subject to registration at the land registry office so it can be used against any third parties. Finally, a seizure is done through a lawsuit and is not subject to specific conditions. The mortgage is by far the most widely used security.

WHAT IS A PLEDGE?

A Pledge is a security for an obligation to ensure that payment will be made by selling some specific assets of the debtor. Under Portuguese law, a pledge (penhor) may be created over cash or fungible securities. To be valid, a pledge depends on delivery of the asset or assets to the creditor or the third party as a trustee or bailee. There are two types of pledge: civil and commercial. A commercial pledge is a pledge between entities or individuals subject to the regulations of the Commercial Code. These will be individuals with the capacity to carry out commercial acts or entities that engage in commercial activities. In general, the requirements for a civil pledge are somewhat stricter than those for a commercial pledge. A civil or commercial pledge may be used depending on the status of the parties. In practice, a civil pledge is more likely to be used.

I FOUND THAT THE PROPERTY I PURCHASED HAS DEFECTS, WHAT CAN I DO NOW?

Every consumer purchase is covered by a mandatory legal guarantee. As long as you are a consumer, no seller can claim otherwise. Legally, the property must not suffer from any defect which has a negative impact on its value or which renders its regular use impossible. If these warranties are breached, the consumer can choose between repair, replacement, refund or a price reduction. However, the buyer must notify the seller of defects within one year of their discovery. If the property is newly built, the purchaser will also benefit from a five-year warranty period. According to Art. 1225 of the Civil Code, the seller is liable for damages in respect of certain defects during five years, if he has also constructed, repaired or modified the building.

Corporate tax rate reduction

The State Budget for 2015 lowered the corporate income tax rate to 21% (it was 23%). Corporate tax is a tax levied on profits derived by both resident and non-resident entities. This decrease corresponds to a loss of tax revenue of around EUR 200 million. The aim is to create conditions to attract foreign investment. It is important to note however the adding of the state tax (between 3% and 5%, depending on the amount of taxable income) and the municipal surcharge (up to 1.5%) wich give a real tax rate of around 25%.

NUMBER OF NEW COMPANIES RISES

Business formation with new businesses having been started in Portugal went up in 2017. Over 3,687 new companies were registered in Lisbon (14.5% more than in 2016), while Porto registered 7,107 new firms (5% up on the previous year). On the other hand, business failures in Portugal fell 12.7% in 2017 compared with 2016 to 6,284, while the number of new companies being set up rose 9.1%, to 40,465. Lisbon and Porto saw the highest number of bankruptcies – 1,683 and 1,330 respectively, but these were still 2.4% and 15.4% lower than in 2016.