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3 years contract in Brussels + 1 year contract, extention or a new contract, rent indexing

Question

I need your help in order to solve an issueI am currently in.
I live in Brussels. I had a short term 3 years contract that started in JUN 2017 and expired on 31 JUL 2020. I told my landlady that I will stay one more year.
In May 2020, my landlady made a new one year short term contract, starting 01 AUG 2020 and expiring 15 JUL 2021. Yesterday she sent me a mail claiming indexing of the rent as of AUG 2020 (November + 3 months back). What I have read so far is that 3 years is the total duration of a short term contract. This means that the new one year contract can not be viewed as an extension to the old 3y contract as she claims. I read that the indexation can be made earliest on the anniversary of the contract. She calculates the indexing as of JUN 2017 - the start of my previous contract. Does she have the right to do so? Or if not - does she have the right to ask for indexation, given that the new contract started 3 months ago?

Thank you in advance!
Fred

J

1. A short term contract is 3 years max and cannot be extended beyond that, so the new "1 year" contract has no validity - the original one has reverted to a long term contract.
2. Giving notice on a long term contract - you just need to give 3 full months' notice with no penalty.
3. Her index calculation is correct, and 3 months is the longest it can be backdated for.

Dec 1, 2020 09:07
Fred Ekfeld

Dear J,

Thank you very much for your answer! Why my new contract has no validity? The old one of 3 years expired on 31 JUL 2020 and on 01 AUG 2020 we signed a new one for one year, this is not an extension, this is a new contract. You think that the new one year contract can not be considered a new contract?

Dec 1, 2020 15:50
becasse

If you don't believe J, ask any notaire/notaris, their advice is free, and they will tell you the same, you have a nine year contract that started in June 2017. In fact, if your original contract started in June 2017 and was stated as being a fixed term until 31 July 2020, that contract was itself a nine-year contract even at the time it was signed, as fixed term contracts can never exceed 36 months in length, even extended or renewed. If a fixed term contract purports to extend beyond 36 months, it automatically becomes a nine-year contract no matter what the contract itself says. A nine-year contract can be determined at any time by the renter subject to giving three clear calendar months notice in the prescribed manner (and paying the penalties which are due for determination within the first three years).

Dec 1, 2020 20:32
Fred Ekfeld

Thank you very much Becasse! Of course I believe J, but this means that the new one year contract (with two signatures on it) is a false document, intentionally made by the landlord to mislead the tenant, which makes things even more complex...I do not see other reasons of making such a document otherwise, if of no value...

Dec 1, 2020 22:27
wezembeekwanderer

Putting the legalities aside, it seems that you wanted to extend your lease by one year and your landlady kindly agreed to do that. If she is asking for a rent increase of a few percent, that is not really unreasonable given that she could have found a new tenant at a higher rent.
In my view be happy that you can leave at the end of one year and pay her the extra rent.
Do you have the time, energy and money for a legal battle? Do you want to find yourself in a nine year contract.?

Dec 2, 2020 00:41
J

You asked for another year and she gave you a contract as such to shut you up. It's clear you didn't know the law at the time, as otherwise you would have known that you didn't need to do anything. Maybe she's not very good with the law either. It doesn't matter anyway.

The law, incidentally, says you cannot have a short-term contract for longer than 3 years. After 3 years, it automatically reverts to being a long-term 9-year contract on which you can give 3 months notice to end it at any time.

Dec 2, 2020 18:39
RPPKN

"Why my new contract has no validity? The old one of 3 years expired on 31 JUL 2020 and on 01 AUG 2020 we signed a new one for one year, this is not an extension, this is a new contract. You think that the new one year contract can not be considered a new contract?"

Because it's illegal to make a new one-year contract to follow a three-year contract if the tenant stays the same. Apparently your landlady is not very experienced, otherwise she would have known this basic fact.

If you wanted to stay in the apartment after the three-year contract expired, there was no need for you or the landlady to do anything. If neither party reacts, a three-year contract will automatically convert to a nine-year contract, the starting date of which is June 2017. So you are now in a fourth year of a nine-year contract and you can leave by giving the standard three-month notice; there is no penalty to pay.

The one-year "new contract" you signed is null and void, it has no legal value whatsoever.

This of course also means that your landlady can index the rent by taking the index of June 2017 as a starting point.

Dec 3, 2020 07:08
Fred Ekfeld

Thank you all for your helpful answers! It has never been about the money, but the legal side of the matter. Now it is clear:)))

Dec 3, 2020 12:45
Sali

Hi Fred,

The law about rent has changed not long time ago. So maybe your landlady is not even aware about those changes. I would be agree with J about the indexation "3 months is the longest it can be backdated for". If you need further help there is the "syndic des locataire

Dec 4, 2020 00:49
Sali

Syndicat des locataires. TEL.: 02/522 98 69. syndicatdeslocataires@gmail.com

You need to become a member and then you get free legal support for all legal matters related to your accommodation.
All the best!

Dec 4, 2020 00:54