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Query on chasing an ex-tenant's unpaid rent and utility bills

Question

It would be great to request any tips on how a landlord can chase an ex-tenant for unpaid rent and utility bills when they rented out a property in Brussels from 2013-2016?

Would anyone recommend any personal debt collectors as well as lawyers who could take the case to court and set a judgement (although I am guessing this would be very expensive and time consuming)?

anon

Are they in Belgium? What level of "proof" do you have. Do they have the money?

Also - do not go to a lawyer first, go direct to a Huissier de Justice.

In other words, if it is rent and a utility bills in their name, and if they actually have money, then you go to a Huissier de Justice to collect the debts for you.

Relatively low cost for you, (as the debtor pays most of the costs), and they'll probably pay up relatively fast, as otherwise the Huissier will take away their assets.

If the person is no longer in Belgium, or the debts aren't in their name, or if they can't pay, then it becomes a lot more complicated. It would depend on the amount and you'd have to make some sort of cost / benefit assessment. However, the huissier will also be able to help you with that. If they still work for the same employer for example, if your huissier turns up at their offices with a warrant, even if they are no longer in the country, I suspect that the amount due will be paid relatively quickly. If not, then the huissier has the ability to apply to the court to garnish their earnings for example.

You can find a huissier here:

https://www.huissiersdejustice.be/bailiff

Aug 3, 2018 10:21
R

All of the above is correct and spot of, I would suggest to send an official Mise en Demeure (you can find examples if you Google it) with the exact amount you are due and a specific timeframe to get paid. Also mentioning that you will start legal procedures if no reply is given

Then you can go to Huissier de Justice.

Note that every utility bill has to be supported by a clear invoice and has to be provided to the tenant.

Aug 3, 2018 11:25
kasseistamper

If you have a properly drawn up and registered contract with your tenant the utility bills should have been in their name and there should be a deposit in an account that needs both your signatures.
You can apply to a judge (I think 'Juge de paix' is the French term) to have the deposit money released. The tenant will have the opportunity to prove that the rent has been paid - you do not have to prove that it has NOT as it is effectively impossible to prove a negative.
Your first post of call should be a notaris/notaire for advice. Their advice is totally free. They will only charge you if you actually want them to do something on your behalf.
Their advice will not only be free, it will be legally accurate. However much you believe that my advice - or that of anyone else who answers - is correct, it is not automatically so as we don't know every detail of your situation.

Aug 3, 2018 14:29
anon

I hate to disagree with KASSEISTAMPER but your first port of call should absolutely not be a notaris/notaire.

I fail to understand why people on this site continually push the myth that notaires go around handing out free legal advice. If you want to buy a house, yes, go and see a notaire. If you want to create a company, yes, go and see a notaire. If you want to have a marriage contract, yes, go and see a notaire.

Notaires act in very limited sections of law that relate principally to contract law in;

family law, marriage, divorce and inheritances;
the purchase and sale of property, land and real assets, and;
creating companies and recording company statutes.

They have absolutely nothing to do with debt collection.

The first thing any notaire will do is refer you to a Huissier de Justice.

Aug 3, 2018 17:51