LISBON AND PORTO DEMONSTRATE AGAINST AIRBNB
Historian Yves Léonard explains the reasons behind the demonstrations planned for Saturday. in Portugal's two major cities to demand "a right to housing".
A number of historical Lisboners can no longer live in the city“ because of gentrification. Yves Léonard estimated on franceinfo, Saturday September 22. Historian, lecturer at Sciences Po and specialist in the contemporary history of Portugal. Demonstrations are planned today in Lisbon and Porto to denounce this phenomenon, which refers to the gentrification of a working-class neighborhood. "There's an impressive tourism boom and real estate speculation."he assures us, leading to "rising property prices“.
How do you explain this gentrification?
In recent years, there has been an impressive boom in tourism and real estate speculation. What are Lisbon, the capital, and to a lesser extent Porto, experiencing? It's relatively new, because before there was a fairly regulated system. Quite tightly controlled, with rents that were not allowed to increase in a certain way. All that has been turned upside down since 2012 and among the consequences. Property prices have risen, leading to gentrification in the city centers. A number of historic Lisboners can no longer live in the city because rents have become too high and property acquisition is beyond their means. This is a relatively recent phenomenon.
In 2011, the economic crisis hit Portugal. Since 2012, several schemes have been attracting foreign residents. Letirees or the professions. Have they played a role in this gentrification?
This was an incentive, particularly for the "gold" visa. This allowed a number of foreign investors to obtain a residence permit and passport facilities for a few years, provided they invested at least 500,000 euros in real estate in Portugal. All these measures were more successful than expected, however, and provoked a soaring property prices. So much so that, this Saturday, a demonstration is being organized to denounce real estate speculation. All these cities fear the Airbnb syndrome.
Has the real estate rental platform amplified this gentrification trend in the working-class districts of Bairro Alto or Alfama in Lisbon? As is the case in Paris's Marais district?
In Alfama, this is a very sensitive issue, and one which is currently being discussed as part of the drive to amend and improve housing laws. Recently, the President of the Republic vetoed a law that introduced a preference clause to allow tenants to stay on in the event of the property being sold, in order to prevent tenants from subletting or using Airbnb facilities. The subject is therefore quite complex, and it's true that in Lisbon today, as was the case in Barcelona and other cities, there is this feeling in certain neighborhoods of seeing floods of tourists multiplying.