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Landlord selling apartment - legal protections?

Question

Dear all,

Our landlord has just told me that he wants to sell our apartment. He has told us this before but previously said in September 2017, not now. We have our contract with him until August 2017.

The email he has sent basically says:
- the buyer will likely want the apartment empty when they move in
- he has asked us to keep the apartment in "perfect order and super clean for visits", whilst also saying that "in the last months I've seen the apartment in a very poor condition"... we clearly have different standards. I fully expect him to try and rip us off, but that's a different matter

What legal protections do we have about being kicked out when a new buyer takes over? Does the new buyer have to keep us until the original contract runs out, or is that then null and void? Do I have a legal requirement to keep the place in a 'perfect condition' for viewings? Does he have to give advance notice of viewings?

I must admit I'm also pretty annoyed about him saying that we don't keep the apartment in a great condition, especially as there have been numerous problems with the flat including a dishwasher that doesn't work for 6 months, wiring in the lights which kept tripping and the electrician saying it was a death trap, and last and not least the poor toilet plumbing which has resulted in our bathroom being covered in sewerage from the block TWICE. Rant over!

Phil Cole

Thanks all. My partner and I have talked and we've decided that we'd rather just move out as soon as possible. When we signed the new contract it was verbally said that he wouldn't look to sell until the end of the extentsion, however this has clearly now changed and so it just makes everything uncertain for us.

What's the soonest that we can get out of the apartment? Is it 3 months? I understand that I need to send a registered letter to him. I will have to ask him his address as I've just seen the original contract and it actually states that his address is the apartment that we are renting, not a different one. Clearly he is taking advantage of a tax loophole by saying that he lives in the flat (he doesn't) and rents out a room. It doesn't surprise me really... he told me last month how he was setting up a "tax efficient scheme" for the wealthy...

Anywho. How do we get out?

Jan 28, 2017 14:27
becasse

You have a fixed one-year extension contract which presumably dates from some time in August 2016. Unless, and it would be very unusual, that contract makes provision for early determination. your contract WILL run until the anniversary date and you will be liable to pay the rent until then - unless, of course, your landlord is very nice to you and lets you go early (fat chance!).

You still have to give three clear calendar months notice even for the contract to end in August, so you have to give this notice before the end of April - and you MUST get acknowledgement of receipt. If you see the landlord, you can hand the notice to him getting him to sign and date a second copy of it which you retain as your receipt. You do not have to wait until April to give the notice but it won't take effect before the anniversary date. You can obviously leave the apartment earlier but you remain liable to pay the outstanding rent (and charges).

Jan 28, 2017 22:31
becasse

I might have added that had you converted the lease to a 9-year one when the 2-year fixed term contract came to an end, instead of taking a 1-year extension as you did, you could have given notice today or up to the end of Tuesday and the contract would have come to an end at the end of April with one month's rent payable as a penalty for termination within the third year; terminating the contract by due notice on the anniversary date in August (or any date after that) would not have incurred any penalty payment at all.

It is unfortunate that you failed to take professional advice before extending the contract. Any notaire would have advised you to convert to a 9-year contract rather than taking a 1-year fixed term extension. Such extensions making the lease up to a full 3-year term are NEVER in the tenant's interest.

Jan 28, 2017 22:41
Phil Cole

The original contract was signed by my partner and was a two year contract according to the paperwork. I then moved to Belgium in August 2016 and was added as a co-habitor on the original contract. The contract was then agreed to be extended by a year verbally with the landlord but nothing was signed or new documents received.

Reading the original contract, it states that "if notice is not given by either party at least 3 months before the end of the 2 years it will then automatically become a new 3 year contract". The landlord however seemed to think that he was just agreeing to a year extension before he looked to sell the apartment, so it seems that either he didn't know the terms of the contract as well or was lying. Either way, does that change the situation?

The contract does say that it can be terminated in "exceptional circumstances, such as loss of work", at which point 3 months rent plus 1 months penalty needs to be paid. But it isn't clear when this can happen.

By not leaving in August 2016, are we now stuck here for 3 years and liable for rent? Or can we get out?

Jan 29, 2017 01:35
becasse

Although the wording of the original contract could have been more up-to-date ("nine" year contracts replaced "three" year contracts as the norm quite some years ago now), it seems clear that you now have a nine-year contract and it cannot have been "new" in August 2016, it would have dated back to the start date of the original two-year contract. (It is impossible to renew fixed term contracts either more than once or for what would be a total term of more than three years, in either case the erring contract automatically becomes a nine-year one from the start date of the original contract.)

You can now give your landlord three clear calendar months notice, and there will be a one month (third year of contract) penalty to pay as well. Remember that, in order for the contract to end at the end of April, you MUST get the notice into the hands of the landlord (with a receipt therefore) by the end of this Tuesday.

Jan 29, 2017 10:48
CC_R

Happened to us for being "difficult tenants" which was basically with holding rent until all the things she had agreed to do before we move in like replace a carpet with a massive dinner plate sized hole in in we're done. The fact is the process of selling and buying here isn't fast. They can sell at the end of a contract and you just move when you would renew. I wouldn't panic unduly about how fast you will be out they need to advertise then sign the binding paper work. Having bought it all takes ages about three months as rule. . You do have allow access for viewing but that doesn't need to be all day every day. You can reasonably tell the estate agents what will work say two afternoon/ evenings and one half day on Saturday. Better off away from landlord like this I recon

Jan 29, 2017 12:05
E.Ash

The most important to know is : Has the contract been registred ?
Only in that case all above apply.
If not, the landlord is in breach of his duty and you can leave when you want.
You have no protection from the new owner....

Jan 29, 2017 14:23
E.Ash

Enregistrement du bail

Obligation
Contrat de bail d'un immeuble affecté exclusivement à l'habitation
Un contrat de bail d'un immeuble destiné exclusivement à l'habitation doit être enregistré. Cette obligation incombe au bailleur (la personne qui donne à louer).
Le locataire peut, s'il le juge souhaitable, (mais ne doit pas) faire enregistrer un tel bail.

Conséquences de l'enregistrement
L'enregistrement confère au bail une date dite "certaine" et devient "contraignant à l'égard des tiers".

Ainsi, le locataire bénéficie, à partir de cette date "fixe", d'une protection légale contre l'expulsion par le nouveau propriétaire lors de la vente de l'immeuble. Le bail engage donc le nouveau propriétaire-bailleur.

Si un bail concernant une habitation utilisée à titre de résidence principale et conclu pour une période de plus de 3 ans n'est pas enregistré, le locataire peut mettre fin au contrat sans préavis et sans verser d'indemnité.

http://www.belgium.be/fr/impots/droits_d_enregistrement/contrat_de_location

Jan 29, 2017 15:47
E.Ash

Beware, I have read again the comments made above by various people.

Some info is incorrect and as I do not have all the details of your rental agreement, I would abstain giving "advices" based on certainties.

Any rental agencies or lawyers could assist.
If you move and look for another place, the rental agency you select will likely happily give you advice free of charges but should them all rental documents to have a advice which is correct.

Jan 29, 2017 15:51
Phil Cole

Thanks all. We may well take that suggestion and ask a rental agency when we look for a new place.

How would we know whether the contract was registered? This is with the commune I assume? The fact that the contract suggests that he also lives in the apartment makes me think that he may not have registered? And if it hasn't been registered, can we really just move out without any notice? What about the deposit and getting that back etc?

Jan 29, 2017 16:17

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