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Rents on the rise everywhere - especially in Brussels
Rents across Belgium are on the rise, but they have never risen faster than they have in Brussels, which saw an 8.6% increase in 2023 following an already significant increase of 3.9% the previous year.
The average rent in Brussels was €1,249 a month in 2023, almost €100 more than in 2022, according to the Confederation of Real Estate Professionals (CIB).
In Flanders, a 6.4% increase brought the average rent to €868. The average rent in Wallonia is between €741 and €776, a 4.3% increase that is nonetheless lower than the one in 2022 (+4.6%) but still reflecting a strong imbalance between supply and demand and rising interest rates.
The sharp rise was expected, as record inflation - 4.06% in 2023 - leads to many rents being automatically increased.
Average rents in Brussels currently range from €800 a month for a studio - almost as much as a terraced house in Wallonia - to €1,850 for a terraced house, with the typical apartment costing an average of €1,205. Nine out of 10 rental contracts in Brussels are for flats.
The municipality of Woluwe-Saint-Pierre remains the most expensive in the Brussels region with the average rent of an apartment sitting at €1,413 in 2023, and Laeken and Jette remain the most affordable with an average of €900 a month in each.
The median price has also risen in the capital, climbing to €1,100 for all housing types combined – a 10% increase over 2022.
“This shows that the Brussels rental market has become a lot less affordable in a short time,” said CIB communications director Kristof Thijs, noting that hardly a quarter of new tenants in 2023 were able to find housing for less than €900 a month.
But inflation is not the only driver of the rising prices: real estate egants say there are fewer lettings and investors are leaving the Brussels market.
“This is due to a deadly cocktail of high investment costs – the housing stock is outdated – changes in interest rates and a policy that is repelling investors rather than attracting them,” Thijs said.
CIB points to decisions such as a winter moratorium - where defaulters cannot be evicted during winter - tenants' preferential right when selling the property, restrictions on rent indexation and fears of rent control in the region, saying these measures to protect residents discourage landlords and property investors.
The property sector would like to see “a more positive investment climate”, Thijs said.
Other brokers point out that has become extraordinarily difficult for people to purchase a house, increasing the demand for rentals while supply lags behind.
“There is only one route to offer help to those currently struggling to find affordable rental housing: widening the supply,” Thijs said.
“There is an urgent need for fundamental changes to prevent further price increases and increase supply, especially for low-income people.”
Charlotte De Thaye, managing director of the Federation of French-speaking estate agents in Belgium, echoed the concerns, noting a rise in interest rates and a particularly tight property market.
“Many households have had to put aside their plans to buy and turn to renting - again - thereby increasing demand,” said De Thaye.
De Thaye also pointed to “restrictive and counter-productive political measures” on the part of the Brussels government, which has been called on to “increase the supply of affordable housing”.