Government will simplify municipal licensing and penalize delays in issuing opinions

The prime minister explained that the Chambers issue the license based on “the term of responsibility signed by the designers”.

Architectural projects will now be licensed only based on the designers' term of responsibility and public entities will be penalized in the event of delays in issuing opinions, the Prime Minister announced today.

At a press conference after the Council of Ministers meeting, at Palácio da Ajuda, in Lisbon, António Costa presented the five main axes of a program called Mais Habitação, one of which is related to the simplification of licensing processes.

In this sense, the prime minister explained that architectural projects and specialty projects “are no longer subject to municipal licensing” and the chambers issue the license based on “the term of responsibility signed by the designers”.

“This measure of responsibility for designers will be accompanied by a very tough sanctioning framework, to be applied by the Order of Engineers and the Order of Architects to all designers who violate the 'artis legis' or 'legis artis' or who [violate] the very building standards,” he said.

Thus, municipal licensing will be limited to urban evaluation: whether or not the land is allowed for construction and compliance with norms, clearances and other urban requirements.

“We are sure that we will significantly speed up the housing licensing processes, without sacrificing the technical requirements that each designer has to face,” he said.

Recognizing that the licensing processes “sometimes take time for municipal services, but also for consultation with 'n' entities of the central administration”, António Costa also announced an “effective financial penalty” for public entities when they do not respect the deadlines set out in the law for issuing opinions.

Once the period provided for in the law for issuing an opinion or for making a decision has elapsed, the Prime Minister continued, “default interest will start to run, to the benefit of the prosecutor”.

The promoter may use this amount to deduct the cost of the licensing fee and, if higher, may use it to deduct IRS (Individual Income Tax) or IRC (Corporate Income Tax).

“In the State Budget for the following year, the State will deduct from the municipality if the municipality is the cause of the delay, or will deduct from the current budget of the public entity that was late the amount resulting from the tax expense caused by the deduction in IRS or IRC of the interest arrears resulting from the delay in issuing the opinion or decision”, he explained.

António Costa gave as examples a building close to an airport that needs an opinion from the National Civil Aviation Authority, another in a sensitive area from an environmental point of view and that, therefore, needs an opinion from the Portuguese Environment Agency, or there is also a project at a national monument that needs validation from the Directorate-General for Cultural Heritage.


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