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Rental contracts in Flanders must now allow pets
Landlords in Flanders are no longer allowed to exclude housepets in a standard rental contract. Animal welfare minister Ben Weyts has come to an agreement with the real estate owners association on the matter.
“The current standard contract states that housepets are not allowed, unless an exception is made,” said Weyts. “Now we’re turning that around. Housepets are allowed, unless the specific rental is not appropriate for a certain animal.”
The change was in response to legal cases brought by pet owners against landlords. In Flanders, one in five households has a dog, and one in four has a cat. At the same time, 25% of all residents rent rather than own a property. “With the new standard contract, pet owners will not have to give away their pets when they move.”
The current contracts were stressful for pet owners because permission in writing had to be received and approved by the landlord, who also had the right to rescind the permission at any time and ask that the pet be removed. That situation led to court cases in which the judge found in favour of the renter on privacy grounds.
The only exception for outright refusal of a pet is if an entire building has a regulation against pets in its policy or if a flat is obviously not sufficient to support a certain pet. This clause could be used, for instance, if a Great Dane was brought into a studio apartment.
“My email box is full of heart-wrenching stories from people who had to give up their pets because they simply could not find a place to live otherwise,” said Weyts. “This change makes Flanders more animal-friendly and will bring an end to an upsetting situation for renters.”