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How do I rent a home in Belgium?

01:05 28/09/2019

The Brussels region has introduced measures to make the rental market simpler. A document sets out the legal obligations of tenants and landlords, including who is responsible for specific types of repair work. A standard template for the check-in and check-out inventory is also available.

Before signing a contract, landlords have a legal duty to set out the charges relating to the apartment and how they are calculated. A government website gives an indication of a property’s rental value based on its size, location and energy performance.

Prospective tenants are advised to read up on the rules and regulations surrounding rental agreements and the rights and responsibilities of each party before signing any contract.

There are two possibilities for a rental contract: a standard flexible lease for a period of between three and nine years, and a rather inflexible short-term lease for contracts lasting up to three years. The first and more common option can be broken with three months’ notice and penalty payment (if you leave in the first, second or third year, you pay an indemnity of three, two and one month’s rent respectively).

The second is set for up to three years and cannot be broken by either owner or tenant. It may be renewed once only, up to a maximum of three years; for example, a one-year lease may be renewed with a two-year lease.

Rent is subject to an index-linked annual review. A landlord may prefer more than one name on the lease for payment security reasons but this is not an obligation. 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.

An inventory is drawn up at the beginning of the lease. Make sure all defects and damage are noted to avoid being charged for them when you move out or if you want the landlord to repair them. The tenant is bound to return the property in the condition in which it was leased, barring everyday wear and tear. Otherwise the landlord is entitled to use some, or all, of the deposit to cover the cost of repairs.

Inspection experts are frequently designated to carry out the inventories. You should get an objective assessment by selecting your own agent for both the check-in and check-out. Estate agencies can also nominate a neutral expert and the cost is usually shared between owner and landlord.

When signing a rental contract, the tenant promises to maintain all of the property’s internal installations, including electricity and heating. The property owner is responsible for the structure and external fittings. In case of a dispute, seek an amicable solution, with help where possible from your estate agency, which can advise but does not have legal responsibility.

Student housing

Your first route when looking for a place to live while studying should be to contact your college or university; most have a student housing service. Otherwise, try searching for a ‘kot’, or single room in a private student house. Generally the rooms are furnished and have a private sink, but the kitchen, showers and toilets are shared. Rents tend to be between €350 and €400 a month, depending on size and location.

Shared housing

Renting a room in a multi-bedroom apartment saves money on rent and utility bills as well as allowing you to meet people. The cheapest way is through Facebook groups such as BXL à Louer.

Some property websites

Short-term housing

Relocation agencies

Written by The Bulletin