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Brussels agrees to limit rent increases for energy-inefficient homes

06:58 08/10/2022

Not long after the Flemish parliament imposed a rent freeze for tenants of poorly insulated housing, the Brussels region has reached a similar agreement for the residents in the capital.

The measure will forbid landlords from raising rent until energy efficiency is achieved, with the aim of better protecting tenants against both inflation and skyrocketing energy prices.

After being approved on Friday, the measure is effective immediately and will last for one year.

As is the case in the Flemish legislation, landlords of homes with better energy ratings will be allowed to raise rents in line with the indexation pegged to inflation. These would be buildings rated A, B, C and D.

Homes with an E rating can raise their rents by half of the allowed indexation and those with a rating of F or G will not be permitted to raise the rent at all.

Properties have been required to have an EPC (energy performance certificate) since 2009, and those without a rating are forbidden from any sort of indexation of rent.

The measure was first met with opposition from minister Bernard Clerfayt (Défi), who argued that EPCs were not standardised between Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels, with the requirements much stricter in the capital.

Clerfayt also wanted landlords to be given the option to provide short-term insulation so that they would still be allowed to raise rents for tenants.

But others argued that higher rents for people living in poorly insulated buildings, who are already struggling with inflation, is effectively punishing residents twice: not only are they dealing with higher energy bills because of price surges, but also because their landlord opted not to invest in energy efficiency.

Part of the compromise in the legislation is the inclusion of EFC scores of C and D among those who can still raise rents. The original proposal from the PS parties asked that only homes with a score of A or B would be exempted from the rent freeze.

Written by Helen Lyons