The ABC of Rental Law in Belgium (by Emilie Willems)

Are you planning to move to Belgium? To avoid unpleasant surprises, this article will tell you everything you need to know about your rights and duties as a tenant.

In Belgium, tenants’ rights are extremely well protected as long as you do not forget to take the right precautions (entry and exit inventory, diplomatic clause, registration…).

For you, our colleague Emilie Willems has listed the following 10 main points related to the lease agreements for your principal residence:

At the conclusion of the contract

 

1. The landlord can fix the rental price at his own convenience. If not excluded, the rent will automatically be adapted once a year in accordance with the cost of living.

 

2. Deposit payments are allowed but must not exceed two months’ rent. The deposit must be placed in a bank account in your name; the interest is saved and the landlord receives a surety.

3. Be aware of the fact that, if the lease is silent as to duration, nine years is imposed. In this case, you may put an end to the lease at any time, by means of three months’ notice, and the payment of compensation of three, to, or one month of rent, depending on whether the lease comes to an end in the course of the first, second or third year of lease.

You are always free to agree upon a shorter duration (three years or less).

Do not forget to include a so-called diplomatic clause in the lease form. This allows you to terminate your lease at 30 days’ notice if you have to move owing to your employment, i.e. you are transferred at short notice or you change jobs.

4. If the premises are partially rented for professional reasons, ask to the landlord for permission in the contract to deduct the rental price and fees for tax purposes.

5. Make sure that you establish an entry and exit inventory with your landlord.
This inventory must be:
–      Done in presence of both parties;
–      Personally dated and signed by you and the landlord;
–      Very detailed (the clause “the premises are in good/satisfactory condition and well maintained” is not sufficient).

6. Leases in Belgium must be registered with the local office of the Receiver of Registrations, Ministry of Finance (Enregistrement/Registratie, Ministère des Finances/Ministerie van Financien) within two months of being signed. The landlord should take care of the registration although it is in your own interest to register the lease: if the landlord wants to sell the property, the new landlord can only be held to the terms of the existing lease if these have been properly registered; if you haven’t registered your lease, the new landlord is in most cases free to evict you.

After the conclusion of the contract

7. During the tenancy, your landlord must carry out the major repairs (roof, stairs, floor, central heating, lift, etc.). As a tenant, you are liable for the maintenance repairs (shutters, toilet flush, garden, locker, etc.).

8. In cases where there is disagreement, the Justice of the Peace (Juge de Paix) has jurisdiction. You can always appear before this Justice in conciliation without any fees and without your lawyer (or in presence of your lawyer should you prefer so).

9. Respect the rules of the co-ownership if you rent an apartment and do not forget that the rental price will be increased with the condominium fees.

10. If you want to sublease all or part of the leased property or assign the lease, ask for the prior written consent of the landlord.

Emilie Willems

Would you like to know more about renting a house In Belgium or do you need legal advice?
Contact us at info@siriuslegal.be.