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One Year Rent Contract

Question

Hi all,

I am currently living in Brussels and I signed a short term contract of 1 year. I have now reached the end of the 1 year contract and since the contract said nothing about the contract renewing, then I assumed that at the end date of the contract I could leave and there would be no need to give a notice as the contract is now over and not renewing. However, my landlord is now claiming that I must have given 3 months of notice that I was leaving the apartment. Since I did not do this my landlord claims I owe 3 months rent worth of penalty. Is the landlord within his rights here, because it seems to me that this claim is totally wrong. The details written in the contract are below, but to me it seems that on July 31 the contract is over and in this situation I should not be obligated to provide a notice and therefore not obligated to pay a penalty. On top of this, the landlord has actually broken the contract on several occasions (bringing visitors to see personal spaces of the apartment without appointment, which the contract says is prohibited).

For the duration of the contract it is stated as "Lease lasting for three years or less" with below that stating, "The lease is granted for a term of one year beginning on 1 August 2019 and ending on 31 July 2020." There is no mention within the contract of the contract being extended once the period of the first year has ended. Whats written above is all that is mentioned in terms of contract duration and renewal.

Further in the contract it states that if the tenant wishes to leave the flat after the first year, then a three month notice must be given, otherwise a penalty of 3 months rent also with fees must be paid. However, with a one year contract that isn't renewing, can this clause even be enforced?

J

You ALWAYS have to give notice (3 months) with all contracts. Your landlord is right.

When the contract reaches the end of the year, it automatically becomes a standard 9-year contract, which you can end at any time, providing you give 3 month's notice.

Jul 3, 2020 06:45
RPPKN

Rental laws in Belgium are complex, you should never "assume" anything. Unfortunately for you, the landlord is right. It is only rental contracts of six months or less that actually end on the date stated in the contract. For all others, the notice period from the side of the tenant is three months.
Your rental contract should have stated the following:

"3.3. Bail de plus de six mois et maximum trois ans
3.3.1. Durée
Le bail est consenti pour un terme de…………………………………………………., prenant cours le ……………….. pour finir le……………………...
Le bail prend fin moyennant un congé notifié (par écrit) par l'une ou l'autre des parties au moins trois mois avant l'expiration de la durée convenue."

However even if this clause was not included in the contract, it still applies because it's the law. Of course, one may ask why the landlord has left it out, apparently on purpose. It could be that they hoped you would make this error. However the law is on their side.

Jul 3, 2020 06:57
Oppressed in Oppem

Unfortunately, the others above are right. The situation in Belgium is not like in Britain and is heavily on the side of the landlord.

One possible way out could be for you to find a new tenant for the apartment.

Jul 3, 2020 23:42