Five essential tips for renting a home in Brussels
Living in Brussels is a great experience – and unlike some other European capital cities, Brussels has a plentiful supply of relatively inexpensive accommodation, ranging from studio apartments to family homes with a garden.
It is important to know the basic rules concerning lease contracts before signing – and the good news is that help is at hand. The Expat Welcome Desk helps thousands of expats each year with practical issues, from accommodation to residence permits – and that includes checking over your rental contract before you sign on the dotted line.
It’s not always easy to find the flat or house rental of your dreams. Here are five of our top tips:
1. Define your maximum monthly budget
Remember to including all charges: rent, electricity, heating, water, internet, TV, plus any shared building charges. An official website gives an indication of a property’s rental value based on its size, location and energy performance. A security deposit of two months’ rent is usually required, blocked in a bank account in the renter’s name that accrues interest during the period of the rental; talk to your bank about setting up this account. The sum will be released by the owner following an examination of the property at the end of the lease.
2. Research the right neighbourhood
Each of the 19 municipalities that make up Brussels Region has its own character. So we asked our readers what they like (and dislike) about where they live – including their insider tips on the best places to visit. Read our comprehensive guides to Brussels’ neighbourhoods here.
3. Trawl through the small ads
The following websites have a broad selection of properties to rent or buy: www.vlan.be, www.immoweb.be, www.pap.be, www.appartager.be – not to mention the Small Ads section here on TheBulletin.be. But if you have your heart set on a particular neighbourhood, just spend some time walking around and you’ll find big orange “A louer/Te huur” signs on front doors and windows. Supermarkets also have noticeboards where locals can place rental ads.
4. Ask an expert
You can also request advice from a professional estate agent, who can help you in your search. A list of recognised estate agents can be found at www.biv.be, the website of the Professional Institute of Estate Agents.
5. Don’t rush to sign your lease
Check you understand it first. In Belgium all accommodation is rented out on the basis of a signed lease. Verbal lease contracts are not legal. There are basically two types of rental agreements: short-term leases for a maximum of three years and the so called “nine-year lease” or long-term lease. It is important to think about how long you are planning to stay in Brussels (we know, plans change). The Expat Welcome Desk can help you out. Email your lease to email@example.com and the team there will check it for free. They also have a legally checked template agreement that you can suggest using to your landlord.
Expat Welcome Desk: +32 (0)2 430 66 00
or arrange an appointment at 63 Avenue d'Auderghem in the EU district
For those of you looking to rent a place that you would use as a second residence rather than a main residence, please be aware that each "commune" has a different tax on 2nd residences, usually between 1.000 and 1.300 euros per year (Uccle is significantly higher than that). Beware of Ixelles, St-Gilles, and Woluwe-St-Lambert, as they charge that tax PER OCCUPANT instead of per residence like the other communes.
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