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Brussels region considering rent control legislation
The Brussels parliament has proposed the formation of a rent-control commission, which, if approved, would be a first for Belgium. The potential new commission was announced yesterday as part of an overall housing plan.
That plan was under discussion yesterday in the housing committee, which was attended by representatives from three housing organisations in the capital. The issue of rent control was already floated previously with the idea of a voluntary scheme for landlords to sign on to rent control in exchange for subsidies.
But that doesn’t go far enough to solve the problem, according to agencies working on affordable housing. “The massive demand for social housing isn’t because people want to live in them so badly but because the rents are controlled,” José Garcia of Syndicat des Locataires told the housing committee. “The housing plan clearly states that there are more homes than families in Brussels. There’s no shortage of housing, there is a contradiction between the rental prices and what people can afford to pay.”
‘A powerful instrument’
So this week the committee proposed the development of a commission that would create rent control legislation. The first proposal is to limit the rents landlords are allowed to charge to 20% above the ‘reference rental cost’, which is calculated based on a number of indicators.
“The rental prices in Brussels are rising too quickly and are often out of proportion, particularly for the lower end of the rental market,” said parliamentarian Arnaud Verstraete (Groen). “A rent control commission would be a powerful instrument in guaranteeing equitable rents for both parties.”
Parliament will first ask advice from the Council of State to ensure that any measures taken are legal and cannot be contested.
Photo ©Siska Gremmelprez/BELGA