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Renting a home in Brussels: what's new from 1 January
The Brussels region has introduced a raft of new measures from 1 January that aim to make the rental market simpler and more transparent for tenants and landlords alike.
Six out of 10 people in Brussels live in rented accommodation - and Brussels region housing minister Céline Frémault said the aim was to "adapt the regulations to the current realities of Brussels".
Rental conditions became a regional competence under Belgium's recent sixth state reform. Frémault said: "We have constantly sought to preserve the delicate balance between landlords and tenants and to achieve the best protection on both sides.
"The rights of tenants and landlords are improved in a modernised legal framework. The rental market is more clear and transparent."
A new price comparison site for rents in Brussels is due to launch on 1 January at www.loyers.brussels. The site aims to give an indication of a property's rental value, based on its size, location, condition and energy performance.
A new document has been drawn up setting 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 (état des lieux) is also available.
Before signing a contract, landlords will have a legal duty to set out the charges relating to the apartment and how they are calculated, including whether the flat has its own utility meters and its energy performance score.
The new regulations also introduce the concept of a student lease, for a maximum period of 12 months, and provide a better legal framework for flat-sharing and roommates. Short-term leases (under three years) are also recognised, and the new rules allow for short contracts to be renewed under the same conditions for a maximum of three years.
A Regional Assistance Fund has been set up to help people on a low income pay their up-front rental deposit. Eligible applicants pay back the sum over the term of the lease without interest, based on their means. The fund is also available to young people (under 35) earning less than €28,000 net per year (€43,000 for a couple).