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Rights as Tenant


Hi all!

I face a big problem the last months and I would kindly ask your advice. My apartment is in an old, typical Belgian building on the second floor. The location is in Ixelles. The floor is wooden and the plasterboard ceiling very thin. Apart from the noise of the tenant upstairs, I have a serious issue with the smells of the tenant downstairs. To be honest, my problem is not with tenant but with construction. Apparently, whatever the tenant cooks in his apartment goes into mine through his ceiling and my wooden floor. He's also a smoker so, every time he smokes or lights incense sticks all the smoke comes into my apartment. In reaction, I have to open the widows all the time as the smoke is really toxic, I got sick from the cold with deep throat pain from the smoke and sometimes because of the really intense cooking smells as the tenant is from Africa. I am starting to have serious problems and although I talked to my landlord, he keeps on telling me that he cant't do anything. I am wondering what kind of rights I have in this circumstance. Could I break my contract and leave the apartment immediately as it is harmful for my health?
Thank you in advance.


You freely entered into your rental contract. If it is a fixed term (less than 3 years) contract it can only be terminated early if the contract provides for that or if the landlord agrees to do so. If it is a "standard" contract then it can be terminated by you giving the landlord three clear calendar month's notice and then, if the contract will by then still be less than three years old, paying the landlord a penalty of one, two or three months rent (depending on how long the contract has been in force). If you just walk out, the landlord is almost certain to pursue you for his financial losses.

Feb 8, 2019 13:13

Thank you for the reply.
It's a "standard" 3-6-9 years contract and I'm running the 2nd year now. So, you mean that I can't do anything even if there are health issues and the apartment apparently doesn't really reach the living standards. I signed freely indeed but how can you imagine such a thing? Is there any service responsible for inspections for such cases?

Feb 8, 2019 14:08

Belgian tenancy law is a complex thing.
Try instead.

Feb 8, 2019 15:42

If the apartment truly doesn't reach the living standards, that is a decision for the commune to make. All you can do is approach them but you may end up spending money that could just as well be put to 'buying' yourself out of the contract.
Similarly you may be able to get a doctor to certify that you are in poor health but the landlord could then find someone to agree that your health is poor but that the accommodation is not the cause.
Whatever way you choose, you risk wasting money AND everything will take time to sort out.

Feb 8, 2019 16:57

The commune will come and inspect the property on request of the tenant.
IF they find that it doesn't meet living standards, your contract is void and you can walk away without having to pay anything else. However, as Kasseistamper says, they might not agree with you.

Feb 9, 2019 09:33

Hi if I were you I would invest in an air cleaning machine with a filter which would pull the toxic smells out, they have these in electoral stores maybe be cheaper than moving in the short term. . It sounds like the tenets to below isn’t being unreasonable just living there cooking and smoking which is there right.

Feb 16, 2019 16:26