Tenant protection laws are well-established
May 30, 2006
Belgian law is PRO-TENANT.
Rents: Can landlord and tenant freely agree rents in Belgium?
The parties may freely agree on the rent. However rent increases above the rate of inflation cannot be written into the contract. In fact, the law provides that if the contract is in written form, the rent will automatically be adapted once a year in accordance with the cost of living.
If there is no written contract, rent increases or decreases during long-term contracts (i.e., nine-year terms) are usually agreed upon between the sixth and ninth month preceding the end of each set of three years. In cases where there is disagreement, the Justice of Peace (Juge de Paix) has jurisdiction. The judge can allow a rent modification, if new circumstances have provoked a rise or decrease of the normal rental value 20% above or below the rent previously agreed.
What rights do landlords and tenants have in Belgium, especially as to duration of contract, and eviction?
Contracts are always for a definite duration. Durations of nine years or less than three years are the main options provided by law, though more than nine years is possible. If the lease is silent as to duration, nine years is imposed.
When the lease is for nine years, the landlord can terminate the lease:
- By notice six months before the end of the first three-year period, identifying a family member who will occupy the property;
- In view of reconstruction, at the expiration of a three-year period, with strong proof of important work;
- At the end of three year period, without a reason, but paying nine or six months' rent compensation, depending on whether the contract comes to an end at the expiration of the first or second three-year period (notice period: six months).
The tenant may put an end to the lease at any time, by means of three months' notice, and the payment of compensation of three, to, or one month of rent, depending on whether the lease comes to an end in the course of the first, second or third year of lease.
Where the lease is for three years or less, it can only be renewed a single time, and on condition that the total duration does not exceed three years. If at the duration fixed by agreement the tenant remains, the lease will be deemed to have been concluded ab initio for nine years. Notice period: three months.
Deposit payments are allowed, but must not exceed three months' rent. The deposit must be placed in a bank account in the name of the tenant; the interest is saved and the landlord receives a surety. The deposit may be indexed.
How effective is the Belgian legal system?
The Justice of the Peace handles tenancy law, though by contract, the parties can opt for arbitration.
EVICTION FOR NON-PAYMENT OF RENT
|Duration until completion of service of process||3|
|Duration of trial||60|
|Duration of enforcement||57|
|Total Days to Evict Tenant||120|
|Courts: The Lex Mundi Project|