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Landlord problems

Question

Hi there

I am going to write about unscrupulous practices by landlords. When I lived in Brussels I regularly heard of people being ripped off for 3 months deposit, or more, by landlords who knew how to play the system.

Have you had any such problems with your current or previous landlord? Did you feel the landlord and 'expert' were in cahoots? Did you lose your deposit or worse? Were you threatened or bullied? Did you feel your landlord made unreasonable requests to repair alleged 'damages' to your apartment?

Contact me at scunnercampbell@yahoo.co.uk if you are interested in talking about this.

Cheers

cqfd

If you want to avoid any problem with your landlord in Belgium (Belgian or expat), you just need to follow the best advices given by relocation agencies.

 

WHEN YOU MOVE IN

Insurance

Your contract typically requires you to insure your rental liability (Art. 1732 to 1735 and Art.1382, 1384 of the Belgian Civil Code). Make sure that the sums insured are adequate and sufficient; and that the proportional rule doesn’t apply.

In fact, you can be held responsible for the complete destruction of the property and the damages to the nearby properties in case of fire. You can also insure the contents of your home (furniture, objects and personal belongings) against fire and theft. Read carefully the clause in your rental contract about your obligations regarding insurances and let it read by your broker before signing your insurance contract.

Openings

Do not forget the formalities for opening of water, gas and electricity meters. These procedures often require one to two weeks. If you want a telephone connection and cable television, the formalities are also under your responsibility and also require some delay.

THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE DURATION OF THE LEASE

Rent expenses

The rental contract makes law between the parties.

Are always at your expense, unless otherwise agreed:

Consumption and private connections, such as gas, electricity, telephone, water, cable etc.

Regularly check the index of your meters to avoid unpleasant surprises due to the taps or flush toilets leaking.

Taxes

Taxes related to the rented place are usually at your expense, like trash collection tax, tax on sewers usage, tax on satellite dishes, etc. In case of a Main Residence contract, only the property tax remains legally under the responsibility of the landlord.

THE MAINTENANCE TASKS - YOUR LEGAL OBLIGATIONS

Following Belgian laws on renting, you are responsible of any damage that would occur during your tenancy UNLESS you do have a legal proof that your responsibility can’t be triggered (like a written report of your insurance expert explaining that the damages are due to a major force case). Generally, unless special agreement stipulated in the rental contract, you are required to give back the rented property at the end of the contract in the same conditions as when you moved in. Any difference between the actual status and the conditions described in the initial house inspection report will be assessed and estimated during the exit house inspection. Not only the amount of money needed to restore the place into its initial conditions will be estimated but also the elapsed time needed to carry out those reparation works. Indeed, during this period of time, the landlord can’t rent out his property. The corresponding amounts will be billed to you and deduced from your security deposit.You are therefore responsible for all the maintenance tasks and repair tasks during the whole duration of your lease. Only major repairs may be charged to the landlord.

It is therefore very important to maintain the rented place in accordance with article 1754 of the Belgian Civil Code. We draw your attention on your responsibilities to carry out the required maintenance tasks, and also give you the following recommendations:

Alarm system

As from September 1st 2009, you have the obligation to register your alarm system with the police. It can only be done from within the following website: www.police-on-web.be. If your alarm system is connected to an alarm control company, they will do the registration for you. You must hire a professional company at least once a year, to have your alarm serviced to ensure it remains fully operational. Your insurance company and/or your landlord may require a copy of the related bills.

Antennas

Before placing an antenna (satellite dish), check whether there is a prohibition in the rental contract. The safest advice is to get your landlord's prior written approval. Pay attention to the municipal code and taxes. When you will leave, you must remove the antenna and repair any damages produced by the cable placement. Never drill a hole through a window frame!

Balconies, terraces

Regularly clean the tiles using a dedicated product. Check for any possible entry points for water and re-sand any areas that have lost jointing sand between the paving blocks. Weed should be removed as soon it appears. Where roots have been sent down into the jointing, removal of the weed often brings away some of the sand, and this should be replaced as soon as the surface is clean. If there are paving slabs, don’t forget to clean the space under the slabs. Clean out all the traps and drains. You are responsible for deposits left by flower pots, crates, bottles etc.

 

Basement

You are required to empty and clean the basement before the exit inspection. You will be charged for the disposal of any items left behind.

Bathtubs

Use a dedicated cleaning product to avoid scaling and alteration of the brilliant shine (enamel or acrylic bathtub). Maintain and when necessary replace the silicon sealant around the bath and the shower tub. You may be liable for water damages caused by a damaged sealant. Do not stick non-slip decals on the bottom of the bathtub, which alter the bathtub surface.

Boilers and electric water heaters

You must produce the official attests proving the whole heating installation has been checked at least once a year by a qualified professional. Without those attests, your insurance could be invalidated. On the other hand, they will allow you to reduce your tax bill.

Central Heating Installation

You have the obligation to perform the general maintenance of the central heating installation. For the annual maintenance, you must hire a professional company, in accordance with the current legislation (Royal Decree of 06/01/1978). Be sure to maintain sufficient water pressure in the installation. Bleed radiators if necessary (trapped air causes noise and reduces the performance). Open and close regularly the thermostatic radiator valves to prevent blockages.

Cleaning

You are required to keep and maintain the premises clean. When you will leave, the premises must be left perfectly clean (ceilings, walls, floors, appliances and equipment). Do not forget to degrease kitchen cabinets, to replace the grease filter of the cooker hood, clean wood doors, window frames and switch plates. Otherwise, when the exit inspection will take place, you may be charged as much as 25€ per hour for professional cleaning services.

Coatings

You are responsible for scratches and any other damages in the ceilings, moldings and ornamentations.

 

Cockroaches and other vermin

You are responsible if cockroaches or other vermin would appear during your tenancy.

Condensation

You are liable for damages caused by condensation to the decorations, walls, floors, ceilings, window frames, etc… Properly ventilate the premises especially the bathroom, the kitchen and all the bedrooms (you breathe out approximately 1 litre of water a night per adult). Ensure a sufficient and constant temperature. Remember that dry air requires fewer calories to be heated. Proper ventilation of rooms allows heat savings. Don’t turn off the heat and the hot water heater for short term absences. It can take more energy to heat up the cold water than you saved (depending on the thermal inertia of the rooms). For short term absence, just lower your thermostat by two or 3 degrees: it will be sufficient to prevent condensation problems and to reduce the energy bill. If you see condensation on your windows, it is often the result of insufficient ventilation and / or heating

Drains and rain gutters along the roof

Leaves and debris should be cleaned out during the fall season after the leaves have fallen. In particularly bad weather, you may have to check it again during inclement weather as well as in spring time. You are responsible for flooding and water damage that would come from poor maintenance.

Dry rot

We all know that every property carries the risk of developing Dry Rot given suitable conditions. Dampness combined with lack of ventilation, and relative obscurity provides the ideal conditions for fungal attack. However, the element that will trigger the spread of dry rot is water. Your responsibility will be engaged if the high humidity level results of a lack of maintenance like poorly maintained roof rain gutters and downspouts, or inadequate lifestyle. Even if the Dry Rot is caused by a structural problem, you still will be held responsible since you must report immediately any structural problem to your landlord (best by sending a registered letter with proof of delivery, using the same language than your rental contract). You will also be held responsible if you don’t take steps immediately to prevent additional damage.

Electrical Installation

Do not overload the electrical installation. You need to replace fuses if necessary. Never bridge a fuse! Wires could melt and the repair costs would be billed to you. The replacement of small electrical items (switches, fuses, circuit breakers, light bulbs etc) is at your own expense. When you will move out of your rental property, make sure there are light bulbs that work in every fixture .If you want to modify the electrical wiring, never proceed without the written approval of your landlord. Then, proceed according to the laws currently in force, taking care not to damage the decorations.

Fireplace

You must maintain the fireplace accessories in good shape. You are responsible for chips, cracks or broken tiles. Get your chimney regularly swept (at least once a year). Make sure to get an official invoice and a certificate to prove that it has been properly swept by a professional. Your home insurance company/landlord may require to get a copy of this certificate. For cassette and built-in insert fireplaces, if necessary, replace the gasket (Fireproof fiberglass gasket around the doors and/or glass windows).

Fuel Tank

The fuel in tank should never be empty. It needs to be at least 10% filled to avoid clogging of the installation. In case of overflow, the refurbishment of the premises is under your responsibility, and costs are often considerable. If necessary, you can then exercise your legal rights against your supplier

Flush

If necessary, you are required to replace the tank and the joints. Be sure to remove lime scale deposits and rust. The regular adjustment of the float prevents leakage. Beware of water consumption!

Garden

You are responsible for the on-going maintenance of the garden. Periodically prune shrubs and perennials Trim and prune trees and hedges. Replace plants that have died. Mow the lawn regularly and frequently; perform regular weeding. Clean and maintain the sidewalks, path walks, alleys, curbs, borders and fences.

Gas Water Heater

You must produce the service bills proving the warming installation has been checked at least once a year by a qualified professional. Carefully keep those annual bills. Check regularly the sealing of the exhaust gas pipe. For your safety and the proper functioning of the device, do not block the fresh air intake. The gas combustion produces water condensation: properly ventilate the premises.

 

 

Hinges and related parts

Ensure the cleanliness and the lubrication of the different components. Replace worn washers (to avoid damages produced by a rubbing door) and ensure the proper anchoring of the elements.

Household appliances

Are under your responsibility:

-     cleaning, descaling, degreasing and de-icing the appliances

-     The replacement of elements or buttons, indicator lamps, bulbs, handles, locks, latches, etc.

  • Ovens: The traditional ovens are cleaned regularly using products commonly sold commercially. The microwave oven is cleaned after each use with a damp cloth.
  • Kitchen Hood: Clean the filter regularly and replace if necessary.
  • Dishwasher: Empty and clean it after each use. Use proper dishwasher salt.
  • Cooking hobs: Gas or electricity, their surfaces must be washed regularly using appropriate products, to avoid to scratch the hob. For ceramic hobs, wash them with cold water after each use. Clean immediately any hot spot. Never use abrasive cleaners (like CIF) or abrasive pads that would scratch the surface, but dedicated products.

Joinery, Woodwork

See also: windows and window frames. In case of damages, even concentrated in a small area, the replacement of the entire item could be charged to you. Do not drill holes! You are responsible for scratches, dents, chipping, splinters, staining and damage caused by condensation.

Keys

When you leave the rented property, you must return at least the same number of keys that you have got (usually 2 keys for external doors and the letterbox, all keys for interior doors), and all copies that you would have made during your tenancy. During the lease, any extra copy is at your own expense. Those costs are particularly high for numbered safety keys (like DOM). In case of loss of keys, badges, or remote control commands, the re-programming costs or/and the costs to replace all the remote control devices will be billed to you.

 

Letterbox

You are responsible for the maintenance of the letterbox, its lock and its hinge. You are responsible for the loss of the key. In a building block, you will be required to pay the cost for your own nameplates.

Linoleum

Linoleum is very durable and has a long life expectancy (more than 20 years). You are responsible for marks, scratches, holes, or dents from unprotected furniture legs or high-heeled shoes.

Locks-Handles-Hardware (see also "key")

You have the responsibility for carrying out repairs to locks, hinges and handles for doors and windows. Lubricate locks, latches, hinges and all the moving parts of espagnolettes to keep them working properly.

Marble and natural stones

You are responsible for scratches, dents, chipping and staining. Never seal natural stone or drill holes: you would be required to replace the damaged items. You are responsible for watermarks on marble and deposits left by flower pots on window sills, fireplace mantel shelf or flooring.

Mirrors

Mirrors need to be maintained as a normal window. Be careful, you are responsible for rust stains due to high humidity level (Ventilate the bathroom!!), breakages and scratches.

Moving in and out

During your moving in and out, you are responsible for all damages caused to the rental property and, in a condominium, to the common area. In the condominium, you will often have to get prior authorization from the trustee or superintendent (Syndic), and will have to pay a lump sum per move as compensation for damages to the common area. This lump sum is determined by the internal regulations of the condominium. You will be required to pay the cost for your own nameplates on the letterbox, the doorbell and in the lift(s). The reservation of parking space for your moving truck or the temporary use of public roads requires a special permit. You must apply in advance to your local commune and pay the required fee.

 

 

Nails, spikes, pitons and other mounting accessories

The damages caused by these items are your responsibility. When you will leave, you need to remove and carefully reseal the holes. Repairs to paints and wallpapers will be charged to you. To avoid this, you should use fasteners causing the least damage to the decorations (X hooks, or picture rails hangers, for example).

Parquet floors

Oil & wax floors will need to have a coating of wax reapplied to them periodically. It is very important to note that care must be taken to prevent any excess moisture coming into contact with the floor.

Lacquered/varnished floors can be maintained with a soft mop and dedicated cleaning products.

You are responsible for damage caused by heavy furniture,by shoe heels (high heels), scratches, burns marks or any other accidental damage. You could be charged with the cost to refinish the whole parquet floor.Never glue a carpet on a wooden floor, which would require the replacement of the whole parquet floor it at your own expense.

Pipes and piping

Open and close the valves regularly to prevent scale deposit. Protect the water pipes from freezing. Turn off the water supply in case of extended absence. Never pour oil or grease down sinks, drains or into toilets. You are responsible for scaling in pipes and for any damages produced by clogged pipes and/or drains.

Roller shutters

Maintain and lubricate the mechanism. It is your responsibility to replace a broken strap. Operate the shutter regularly to prevent blockage.

Sanitary equipment

You must regularly check, clean and descale your equipment. Check and replace regularly the faucets and valves joints. Filter screens, faucet and shower head aerators must be descaled and eventually replaced regularly, especially in the region of Brussels-Capital where the water hardness is high. After having carefully dismounted all those accessories, you can descale them by using a dedicated product like Viakal or white vinegar. Do not to spill these products in bathtubs and / or sinks as they may cause irreversible damage; and you would be charged for repair costs. Concerning the toilets, you are required to replace the hinges, broken seats and covers. Inspect regularly all the joints around the bathtub, shower and toilet. If needed, replace them immediately. You can be held responsible for damage caused by water infiltration due to a defective joint. Pay particular attention to the joints between the sanitary equipment (bathtub, shower cabinet) and the walls; and also those between the kitchen work plans and the walls.

Sewer

You must be careful not to clog the drains.

Sidewalks-terraces-driveways

You must remove the snow and ice from sidewalks. Prevent weeds from growing between the joints. In case of lack of maintenance, water will enter the jointswhich during the winter months will freeze and expand causing damage.

Stained Glass

Be careful not to damage these delicate and fragile elements.

Textile floor or carpet

Make sure to regularly vacuum and shampoo it.

Theft and vandalism

You must prove your good faith by reporting the theft and the damages to the police immediately. The police report will serve as proof. You must send this police report to your insurance company and to your landlord.

Tiles

Clean them regularly to prevent deposits in the joints. Never drill holes to attach accessories or wall cabinets.

Trees

See also: Gardens. You are obliged to maintain, trim and prune trees and shrubs. You need to protect them against insects, pests and vermin. You must keep the same number of trees and shrubs. If one would have been killed by a major force report this to your landlord who will decide whether or not replacing the tree.

Wallpapers, paints, and tapestries

If there is damage, you will be required to pay the repair costs (for example: to remove the wallpaper, to repair underlying plaster; to put up new wallpaper and to repaint). So prevent damage by keeping your kids from drawing on the walls. Take steps to avoid scratches, spots, stains and dents. Are also considered as damage: painting over an existing wallpaper that does not fit for that purpose; papering over an existing wallpaper (unless it is a primer); new wallpapers and paints having colours, patterns, and characteristics that don’t suit to the common taste and that are not in accordance with the destination of the premises.

Waste Management

Respect the condominium regulation and/or the municipal regulation. Some municipalities require the use of special bags for the selective garbage collection. You must respect the garbage collection schedule of the municipality. You are required to pay taxes and fines that could be claimed. Do respect the rules!

Windows

You must regularly clean both the inside and outside of the windows. You also have the obligation to replace broken or cracked windows glass.

Window and window frames

Windows and window frames need to be cleaned regularly. Pay particular attention to keep the drainage channels free and clear of blockages. Lubricate regularly all the moving metal parts and fixings. Open/close them regularly to avoid your windows to become stuck and/or difficult to open. VENTILATE THE PREMISES REGULARLY. You are liable for damage caused by condensation. Good ventilation is essential. The increasing use of mechanical exhaust systems like kitchen hoods, bath and toilet exhaust fans, combined with the use of PVC and aluminium frames, making homes super-tight and hyper-insulated, tend to create a vacuum. If you use gas appliances, this vacuum has a detrimental effect on the proper operation of these devices. Good ventilation of the premises prevents damages caused by condensation.

Woodwork

You are responsible for strokes, scratches and holes in the woodwork. You must ensure the free flow of condensation water on the windows. Inspect and clean the drainage holes which are located just below the window area. You are responsible for the decay of the woodwork if you would have closed those drainage holes. In case of scratches and damages in a varnished woodwork, you have to refinish the wood in this case

The cabinets need to be treated with particular care: you will be responsible for stains, claws, shots, or holes. The cabinets shall be deemed to have a shelf at the location of each pair of rod supports.

 

 

 

 

REPAIRS - YOUR LEGAL OBLIGATIONS

Following Belgian laws on renting, you are responsible of any damage that would occur during your tenancy UNLESS you do have a legal proof that your responsibility can’t be triggered (like a written report of your insurance expert explaining that the damages are due to a major force case). Generally, unless special agreement stipulated in the rental contract, you are required to give back the rented property at the end of the contract in the same conditions as when you moved in. Any difference between the actual status and the conditions described in the initial house inspection report will be assessed and estimated during the exit house inspection. Not only the amount of money needed to restore the place into its initial conditions will be estimated but also the elapsed time needed to carry out those reparation works. Indeed, during this period of time, the landlord can’t rent out his property. The corresponding amounts will be billed to you and deduced from your security deposit. You are therefore responsible for all the maintenance tasks and repair tasks during the whole duration of your lease. Only major repairs may be charged to the landlord.

Following Article 1754 of the Belgian Civil Code tenants must carry out repairs to (among others):

• Fireplaces, chimney fireback,fireplace mantels and shelves, chimney breasts;

• Plasterwork on the walls up to a height of one metre;

• Broken tiles;

• Windows, unless they have been broken by hail or any other force majeure;

• Doors, windows, fences, hinges, latches bolts, and locks

Generally speaking, you are responsible for all the plumbing repairs (joints, drains, accessible pipes and faucets). You also need to repair appliances, baths, tubs, showers, toilet flushes, shutters, etc..

You must repair any leak ASAP (by calling your own plumber). If the leak occurs in a non-accessible pipe, or in case of a leak in the roof; those both exceptions fall under the landlord’s responsibility.

Inform the landlord immediately when problems arise!

 

You will be held responsible if you fail to notify immediately the landlord of a problem. Report immediately any structural problem to your landlord, best by sending a registered letter with proof of delivery, using the same language than your rental contract. You will also be held responsible if you don’t take steps immediately to prevent any additional damage. File also a claim with your own insurance company.

 

 

 

 

OTHER OBLIGATIONS

 

Remember that you do not have exclusive use of the common parts of the building (corridors, stairwells, landings, hallways, and entrance halls). You cannot store or hang any item there.

Store in a folder all documents that relate to your rental property (rental contract, initial house inspection report, invoices, certificates, correspondence, contracts…).

Remember that the leased premises are under your watch, care and management, with all the obligations it implies. You are the guardian of one the most valuable assets of your landlord.

Report in writing any change in your marital status (marriage, divorce ...).

MOVING OUT

Respect the terms of the contract!

If you want to break the lease before its expiration date, send your termination notice in due time best by registered letter with proof of delivery. The termination period starts on the first day of the month following the month in which your landlord received your notice.

Once notified of your departure, your landlord is entitled to show the property to new candidates (generally 2 hours per day, 3 times a week). Propose the most convenient timeslots for every one (like 2 evenings a week between 6 and 8 pm and the Saturdays between 10 and 12 am). Present the property at its best: as soon a new tenant signs, you get rid of the visits and your landlord is more likely to grant you an earlier departure.

Arrange with your landlord a date and time for the Exit Inspection. Please note that if this inspection is conducted by an Expert, acting for both parties, his decisions concerning the amount of compensation will be irrevocable. Generally, you have to give back all the keys (and the copies you would have made) at the end of this Inspection.

Checklist before the Exit Inspection

  • The rented place should be given back in, at least, the same conditions you got it  (as described in the initial house inspection report).
  • It needs to be perfectly clean and perfectly maintained.
  • Clean out the smoke extractor in the kitchen and all the grease filters need to be perfectly clean.  Otherwise replace them before the exit house inspection.
  • Calc: use a good anticalc for all taps in the kitchen and bathroom including opening the tip of the faucet and cleaning the filter under it.
  • Check that WC flush mechanism is perfectly clean and doesn't keep on running.
  • Joints: need to be perfectly maintained; replace them if they are damaged.
  • Light fixtures; make sure all the light fixtures are firmly on the wall and that all bulbs work (unless they were dead when you moved in).
  • Rain gutters must be perfectly clean.
  • The garden must be in exactly the same conditions as before you moved in the rented property.
  • Check for scratches on the parquet floors and doors; repair them if any or refinish the whole parquet floor if there are numerous spots and scratches.
  • Vacuum and shampoo the carpets (it doesn’t matter if they were not shampooed when you entered. If the expert said they were clean and proper, you will need to clean them like that).
  • Dirt smudges / condensation on the walls; you may be charged for painting the whole wall unless the painting is more than 9 years old, in which case it is fully amortized and you don’t have to repaint it. N.B you would still need to repair holes and clean the pencil writings of your children for instance.
  • Check window and door handles and locks to make sure they work okay. Be sure each door has its own key. (Also valid for the letter box)
  • Wash the curtains if they belong to the landlord and keep the receipt.
  • Have the last maintenance bills for your boiler, heating system, water softener, alarm, chimney sweeping (even if you didn’t use the fireplace). Those maintenance reports can’t be older than 3 months.
  • Make sure all appliances are perfectly clean and actually work if they belong to the landlord (dishwasher, dryer, washing machine, cooker, oven, microwave)
  • Since following the Belgian laws you are responsible for any damages that would have occurred during your tenancy, you will need to prove you have informed your landlord in written (best through registered letters using the same language than the contract) as soon damages would have occurred for which you think your responsibility is not engaged (a leak in an inaccessible pipe, a leaking roof, …) If you don’t have those proofs, the expert will claim them from you.

 

Nov 12, 2011 08:42
aps_reine

Actually, Article 1754 of the Civil Code only says this:

Art. 1754 . Local repairs or maintenance menu which the tenant is required if there is clause contrary, are those designated as such by the use of the premises, and, among other repairs to make:
the hearths, counter hearts, doorframes and mantelpieces;
récrépiment the bottom of the walls of apartments and other dwelling places, the height of one meter;
the pavers and tiles rooms, when there are only a few broken;
To glass, unless they are broken by hail, or other extraordinary and force majeure accidents, the tenant can not be held;
to doors, windows, wall boards or closure of shops, hinges, bolts and locks.

However, the list is outdated and obsolete : it indicates the hearths, counter-hearts, walls, cobblestones, etc. which applies if you time travel back to 1802. But in 2017 this doesn't make a lot of sense so the legislator provided in the law of 25 April 2007 the possibility for the King to define specifically the list of things covered/not covered by rental repairs. In typical Belgian fashion, no royal decree has been published to date relating to this decree.

So I guess it's up to ?The Expert? or ?a Judge? to determine if something needs to be repaired or not?

Any insight on this or anyone know where the Experts get their information from about what's what?

Cheers

Mar 17, 2017 21:53
asteksonus

About unscrupulous practices by landlords when I living in Brussels.

I also see that this was posted was started a few years ago - so I just wanted to keep this alive.

In the current Brexit, Expatit environment - it would be very remiss to not warn any unsuspecting Brit who though it migh be a good idea to get a Belgian passport or residency. There should be some blog or web site to warn anyone before putting their head into that particular lion's mouth.

I have been living and working all over Europe as a so called 'Nomad' worker but I must say I that in spite of my consideralble experience have been ripped off every time I come into contact with any belgain landlord, the belgian legal system or belgians in general.

And I am not talking about negligible amounts of money. A typical example is that a landloard will trump up some expertise to say you owe him 2000 Euros for I don't know what - and before you know it - that sum has been inflated to 7000 Euros after sending it to court for judgement 'by default' - and all without the hint of a summons being produced or any other kind of what they call 'signification'. All this is perfectly illegal under the begian judical code the Hague convention and so on - but you will never see your money again.

It is always a no-win situation. The belgian legal system is a totally corrupt closed shop, the police are Stasi agents who sneak round your commune denouncing anyone who put their foot on belgian soil and the henchmen they call "Hussiers de Justice' will be on your doorstep in an instant to take your goods away - even for a 50 Euro bill - that had nothing to do with you in the first place. And there is no recourse - you put up or pay up - no concept of protection of the individual and no ombudsman.

My own solution is simply to avoid any commercial transaction in this nasty damp country when I can.

As a piece of information I found intersesting - EY published a report this year (also in the L’Echo Belge) which found that the level of financial corruption in Belgium was well over twice that in Europe asa whole - and that includes some other very dodgy countries - only Ukraine and Kenya score worse.

I have lived in Kenya as well as Belgium - but I can say it is only in Brussels Midi station that I have been robbed while the police look the other way.
Belgium is full of rip-off merchants - it is the national sport.

If I were Levi Strauss, Cisco, MacDonald’s etc. - I would think very hard about keeping my European headquarters in Brussels - even if they gave me huge tax breaks!! When push goes to shove - you will be ripped off. If not by your landlord by someone else.

Dec 5, 2019 17:30
asteksonus

Does anyone in theBulletin community have any examples or references of Belgian lawyers defending the tenant in such cases?
CQFD posts a litany of points to avoid when renting in Belgium – which is good advice – but it is a horrendously long list and subject to interpretation vastly to the advantage of the landlord. The common experience is that the landlord will run roughshod across the rules and will routinely make unjustified and disproportionate claims against the tenant.
Essentially the landlord views the tenant as a source of funding to make improvements to his property. In my personal experience this will include (but is not limited to):
• Installation and upgrading of electricity. gas and oil heating installations to render the property safe and legally compliant.
• Construction of penthouse apartments on the roof of the apartment building (including unacceptable disturbance to current tenants)
• Landscaping of garden and common areas well above and beyond any reasonable level for maintenance with the purpose of increasing the value of the property
• Rectifying basic construction faults such as lack 'damp course' (very common in Belgium) leading to 100% humidity in the property, paint & décor degradation, rot & mold ..
Etc.…
Sadly, the tenant is routinely at the mercy of the landlord’s claims which are aggressively prosecuted, but I have NEVER come across a Belgian lawyer who is prepared to defend the tenant who is considered fair game in such cases.
Any lawyer and ‘hussier’ acting on behalf of the landlord will receive large fees to prosecute the tenant - all paid for by the tenant - and are thus incentivized to rip off tenants.
It is far too easy for a landlord to get a judgement against a tenant – the judge in the court of first instance in will routinely ‘rubber stamp’ such claims without any scrutiny. To add insult to injury, the well informed lawyer for the landlord will make sure that the court appoint an ‘Expert’ who is engaged solely to uphold the un-scrutinized judgement. But 'to all intents and purposes' the Expert is in cahoots with the landlord and his lawyer. Once the court-sanctioned expertise is in place there is very little hope that the tenant can overturn it. Making a ‘Counter-Expertise’ is a lost cause especially because you have probably moved out log before you are hit with such a trumped up ‘Expertise’ document.
By contrast if a tenant wishes to defend an unjustified or illegal claim will be faced with lawyers’ and procedural costs which are more than he moneyhe will be likely to be able to claim back – which generally is the reason any lawyer will advise you to ‘put up and pay up’.
The weakness in the whole process is that there is an unequal bias against a tenant, no ombudsman and no checks and balances in place. It is up to communities such as theBulletin to find Belgian lawyers that will defend such cases. Note: it is impossible to take such cases to appeal or to ‘Cassation’ without a Belgian lawyer to act in court.
This is not just a rant – there must be some action taken to redress this by Legal representation for the tenant.
- Any candidates out there?

Dec 14, 2019 09:32