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Almost 20,000 Belgians on waiting list for rent-to-buy housing scheme

Rent to buy property scheme
16:41 12/07/2023

A rent-to-buy housing scheme has attracted 300 Belgian families since its launch five years ago, according to Gilen Real Estate, reports RTBF.

In total, nearly 20,000 Belgians are on the waiting list to become "hamster tenants", as the scheme is colourfully known in French and Dutch.

It allows an individual to rent a new home with an option to buy via a real estate developer. After a few years, the rent paid can be converted into capital which finances the first part of the acquisition.

Property developer Gilen Real Estate from Sint-Truiden was the first to launch this concept five years ago, and remains the only one to offer it in Belgium. While the country has long valued home ownership, first-time buyers have been increasingly struggling to get onto the property ladder due to spiralling prices.

Around 50 new tenants have so far joined the scheme this year, and the company estimates the figure to rise to at least 500 in 2024. "Nearly eight out of 10 users are young people in their twenties or thirties, having a net income of between €1,500 and €3,000 on average," said the promoter.

The majority of “hamster” rental accommodation is located in the north of the country, in the provinces of Limburg (42%), Antwerp (14%) and East Flanders (14%).

A total of 18,460 people are on the waiting list. “Today there is a huge group of Belgians who do not have the possibility to access the housing market. They have too little starting capital to buy a quality property, and there is not enough offers on the qualitative rental market," pointed out Laurens Gilen.

"According to estimates, we should deliver some 50,000 new homes a year just to meet current demand."


Written by The Bulletin