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Renting in Belgium: A Comprehensive Guide

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Living in Belgium

In every country, there are slightly different rules and procedures to follow in regards to renting accommodation. This could include types of contracts, maintenance requirements, and procedures to setup your utilities and bills. In this living in Belgium guide, we will detail what you need to know when looking for an apartment or house.

Finding Your Accommodation in Belgium

There are many different resources and tools you can use to research and find a place to live in Belgium. Below is a list of several online resources that are available in English:

  • There are online portals such as Immoweb, BFF, and Spotahome.
  • You can contact real estate agencies directly.

Since Belgium is a tri-lingual state, depending on the area you are living in, most people will speak either French (Wallonia and Brussels), Dutch (Flanders), or German (eastern part of Wallonia). In Brussels, and other cosmopolitan cities, you will find real estate agents that do speak English.

In Belgium, agencies are normally paid by the landlord. So, when finding a home through an agency, be wary of any that ask for any money up-front or when signing a contract.

Finding Your Accomodation in Brussels

As Brussels is a major urban center in Belgium, rent prices are a bit higher than anywhere else in the country. The good thing about Brussels is that it is quite compact and has very good public transport, so you can find better priced accomodation in the periphery of the city, rather than looking in the city center.

Other than the options mentioned in the previous section, there are also alternative living options in Brussels, such as co-living spaces, which are aimed at international professionals who want privacy with the ability for shared common areas to socialize and feel part of a community.

These co-living spaces are normally more high end than student co-living spaces. Some co-living spaces include: Morton Place, Faubourg 56, and Share Home Brussels.

What Do Rental Contracts Look Like?

Depending on the type of property you rent, there are different rental contracts to consider. Below, we will explain to you the differences between them, and when each one is used. But first, we will cover the mandatory clauses in any primary residence rental agreement.

As details change from one region or municipality to another, we will highlight the general terms and conditions that must be stated. The rental contract must contain the following information:

  • Full address of the accommodation.
  • Name and contact details of the landlord/owner of the accommodation.
  • Value of the monthly rent.
  • Value and responsibilities of utilities (electricity, water, etc.) and common, or communal, charges.
  • Deposit amount.
  • Standards and amounts relating to taxes.
  • Interest and charges for late rent payments.
  • Whether it is a furnished or unfurnished accommodation.
  • Decisions relating to responsibilities of the maintenance and repairs of the property.
  • Signatures of both parties dated.
  • Start and end date of the lease contract.
  • Information relating to the notice period.
  • Consequences relating to the breach of the rental contract by the owner and the tenant.

In the appendix, the landlord must add a document containing the laws for leases and sanitation standards. These standards may change from one regional code to another.

Security DepositA security deposit is normally two months of rent, but can be upto two months of rent depending on your agreement with the landlord. Issues that affect the release of the deposit when you leave are:
✔️unpaid bills
✔️unpaid rent
✔️condition of the property

What Is the State of Inventory Document?

In addition to the rental contract, it is also obligatory in Belgium to have a co-signed state of inventory document on entry and departure from the accommodation. This allows both the landlord and the renter to attest to the condition of the property, which is one of the issues that will affect the release of the security deposit when you leave.

A copy of this agreement must be registered with the local authority, so don't be surprised if you sign at least three copies. If there is more than one renter - for example you are co-living with a partner or roommate - each person signing must get a copy, so you might end up signing more than three copies.

The state of inventory document will also be registered with the local authority along with the rental contract, and both will need to be registered within two months of the agreement. This is normally the responsibility of the landlord, and it is normally a free process.

If the agreement is not registered with the authorities, you do not have to give a notice period, nor will you pay any penalties on breach of contract. At the same time, if it is registered properly, we recommend that you give notice by registered mail in case of any dispute.

Are you moving and need new energy and broadband contracts ?

You can talk to our English- or Spanish-speaking advisors for help with comparing all the providers, finding the best offers for you and taking out new contracts.

Are you moving and need new energy and broadband contracts ?

Let our English- or Spanish-speaking advisors call you back for help with comparing all the providers, finding the best offers for you and taking out new contracts.

What Is the Contract Duration?

In Belgium, four different lengts of rental contracts are used:

  • Short term contracts (less than three years)
  • Nine year contract (also called the 3-6-9 contract, but can include fixed term contracts between three and nine years)
  • Long term contracts (longer than nine years)
  • Life-long contract

The nine year contract is your standard contract, but that doesn’t mean you have to live at the residence for nine years. The differences between the contract durations is when the landlord can increase the rent, and notice periods for both you and the landlord.

In a short term contract, the following regulations are applied:

  • The contract is of a fixed duration.
  • The contract can'nt be longer than three years.
  • A penalty is applied if the contract is cancelled before it ends.
  • The notice period is thee months.

If a short term contract is extended beyond three years, or if it is renewed for a second time, the contract reverts to a nine year contract.

If a time period is not explicitly stated in the contract, it is assumed that the standard nine year contract regulations are applicable. These regulations are:

  • If the tenant gives notice in the first three years, a penalty applies.
  • If the tenant gives notice after the first three years, there is no penalty.
  • The notice period is three months.
  • The landlord can increase the base rent every three years.

In the first three years, the notice penalty for the tenant is normally:

  • Three months rent in the first year.
  • Two months rent in the second year.
  • One month rent in the third year.

In the nine year contract, the landlord is also allowed to give notice, though only if they or a family member will be occupying the residence, or if extensive repairs are required. They will need to give six months notice, and will also have to pay a penalty of several months rent to you.

Increases in the rental costsOther than increasing the base rent, a landlord is allowed to increase the rent every year based on the cost of living index. Be on the lookout for a letter from your landlord around that time. This increase can be applied retroactively to the last 3 months of the previous year, so you might also have to pay the difference to your landlord.

We will not go into the details of the long term and life-long contracts, as most expats do not normally opt for such options.

What Are the Utilities and Communal Fees?

It is important to know which utilities and communal fees you are responsible for. In your contract, and depending on the type of accommodation you take, it should be listed.

In most contracts, you will be responsible for gas and electricity, as this is based on your personal consumption. If you need help with finding an energy provider, you can use our articles or call with one of our English speaking energy experts. The will answer all your questions, help you find the best offer for you and, if you would like to, help you to take out a new contract.

Are you moving and need new energy and broadband contracts ?

You can talk to our English- or Spanish-speaking advisors for help with comparing all the providers, finding the best offers for you and taking out new contracts.

Are you moving and need new energy and broadband contracts ?

Let our English- or Spanish-speaking advisors call you back for help with comparing all the providers, finding the best offers for you and taking out new contracts.

Just as for energy, it could be your own responsibility to take out an internet and TV subscription, this is, however, not always the case. You can use our guides or call CallMePower for free help with comparing, finding and taking out the best offer for you: +32 2588 2547.

Before you can take out a new energy contract, you will need to know your EAN codes, since these codes are related to the electricity and gas meters in your apartment or house. Therefore, it is not possible to take out a new contract before you have a place to stay.

Water and sewage could be included in your rent, but double check so you don't miss any payments. Furthermore, communal fees can be asked depending on where you live, such as to a housing association for apartment blocks, or for garbage collection. In your contract, you can find whether you need to pay these fees, or that the fees are included in your monthly rent.

When moving into a new home, we recommend you fill out the energy transfer document to avoid any disputes. The document will be co-signed by you and the landlord or previous tenant and will include information such as the meter readings and your EAN Codes.

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