Accommodation in Belgium: scams you should look out for


Committing to renting or buying accommodation when you're new to or have not moved to Belgium just yet is always a stressful endeavour. Would you like to help us in putting together a handbook of what to look out for when house hunting in Belgium?

What are the most common scams in Belgium?

What are the red flags to look out for when scanning through adverts?

Is there a list of registered or accredited landlords or real estate agencies in Belgium?

What authorities should be sought should one come across an accommodation scam?

Please share your experience,


Good morning Bhavna,

Wow, you go there saying real estate scams ...: /

Belgian law does not tolerate fuzzy or imprecise terms in leases

Lease and rental

The lease is a contract between a landlord (also called the landlord) and a tenant for renting a home.

Legal obligations

The owner is obliged to register the lease. Leases must be registered at the Ministry of Finance's local registration office within six months of signing.

Theoretically, you may be fined if you forget this formality, although it is in your own interest to register the lease and any changes or codicils that have occurred during the term of the lease.

Do not listen to your landlord if he / she tries to discourage you from "taking the trouble" to register the lease: if the landlord wants to re-let the unit, the new tenant can not be required to respect the existing lease if it has been duly registered.

If you have not registered your contract, the new tenant may have you evicted, raised your rent or changed any term of your rental agreement!

It must be mentioned in the lease:
the address of the house for rent;
the price of the rent;
the name and address of the owner / lessor and his signature;
the name of the tenant and his signature;
the date on which the rental begins;
the inventory of places of entry and exit.

In addition, the owner must add a "standard annex" (the same for everyone) that includes the main provisions of the law on leases and regional health standards (that is to say, the minimum of comfort and convenience). sanitation that housing must have according to the housing code of each Region)

The duration of the lease

Short-term: maximum 2 contracts over a period of 3 years.

For example: a first one-year contract and then a 2-year contract. Or, a first one-year contract and then a second one-year contract. After these 2 contracts, the tenant automatically goes to a 9 year lease

Either long-term, 9 years.
Warning warning; three months before the end of the lease, the tenant must always send a notice (= registered letter to announce his departure).

The tenant and the landlord can always arrange "amicably" (= an agreement that suits both parties).

Termination of the lease
The termination of the lease is the interruption of the contract before the scheduled date.

Termination by the tenant
For a 9 year lease
The lease may be interrupted at any time, but:

it is necessary that the tenant announces to his owner his departure and this, by registered letter 3 months before the date of his departure (always 3 months of notice)
the tenant must pay:
if he leaves during the first year of rent: 3 months of indemnity;
if he leaves during the 2nd year of rent: 2 months of indemnity;
if he leaves during the 3rd year of rent: 1 month of indemnity.
For a short lease
This contract can not be interrupted unless it is provided in the lease (clause to the contrary) or the landlord and the tenant amicably arrange.

Termination by the owner
For a 9 year lease
The owner can terminate this contract:

if he wishes to occupy the dwelling himself (or his immediate family): with six months' notice, he may do so at any time during the term of the lease.
in order to be able to carry out renovation work in the dwelling: but he can do it only every 3 years.
without cause: in this case, it can do it only at the end of the first triennium for an indemnity of nine months 'rent, or at the end of the second triennium, for an allowance of six months' rent.
An amicable arrangement is always possible.

For a short lease
This contract can not be interrupted unless it is provided for in the lease or the landlord and the tenant make amicable arrangements. It is now standard practice to include a "diplomatic clause" in the standard rental agreement. This allows you to cancel the lease with 30 days notice if your move is caused by your work, ie if you are suddenly transferred or if you change jobs.

The rental guarantee

Also called "surety", the rental guarantee is used to pay the owner if:
the tenant does damage in his home;
the tenant did not pay his rent;
the tenant has not reimbursed the owner for the bills that the landlord has received (and paid) instead of the tenant (water, gas, electricity ...).
If there were no problems, the tenant gets the money and the interest when leaving the house.

Legal dispositions
The guarantee must be deposited in an escrow account at the bank in the name of the owner and the tenant.

The law provides that the guarantee can be constituted by the tenant in 3 ways:

the tenant blocks the whole of the somme in the bank: in this case, the guarantee does not exceed 2 months of rent (without charges);
the tenant does not have the totality of the sum: he can pay constant monthly payments to the bank (the same amount each month) during minimum 1 year (if the lease is one year) and maximum 3 years (if the lease is 3 years old or older). In this case, the guarantee will be 3 months rent (without charges);
Warning; this modality is hardly used, banks almost systematically refuse to do so.
via the CPAS of reference: the CPAS concludes a contract with the bank. The bank gives the owner a bank guarantee of 3 months rent. The owner does not know that the CPAS intervenes in the guarantee of the tenant.
Via organizations such as the Housing Fund or some associations that offer loans for rental guarantees.
Some homeowners sometimes ask for cash back guarantee money, that is, hand-to-hand, or the owner's personal account. Although common, these practices are illegal.

If despite all the tenant agrees to give "in cash" the amount of the guarantee, it is very important that it requires a receipt signed by the owner, with the date, indicating the mention "for rental guarantee". In the case of a payment on the personal account of the owner, it should also be mentioned in communication that it is a rental guarantee for such housing and the date of the beginning of the lease.

The rent
The rent is the monthly price charged by the owner to occupy the rented accommodation.

It is set freely but can not be changed once it has been fixed.

The rent may, however, be adjusted by the owner to the cost of living (= indexation) once a year on the anniversary date of the lease, on the basis of a formula provided by law. For the calculation of indexing, see the Automatic Rent Index Calculator.

In addition to the rent, the tenant must pay:
his personal consumption: water, gas and electricity or a provision or a fixed charges.
Possibly common charges.
The charges
Expenses are paid monthly to the owner.

They understand:
the maintenance and electricity of the "common" (entrance hall, stairwell ...), the elevator, etc.
consumption when it is the owner who pays to the company (provision or package)
Two systems exist:
provision: the tenant pays according to his actual consumption.
the flat rate: the tenant always pays the same amount whatever his consumption.

The inventory of fixtures

The inventory of places of entry is an administrative formality that should not be forgotten or botched when signing the lease. Indeed, it will be compared to the inventory of places of exit at the end of the rental of the property. It is thanks to the inventory of the places of entry that the owner will be able to determine if the tenant must answer or not of damages or degradations, and if it must return to the tenant the entirety or only a part of its rental guarantee .

To be valid in the eyes of the law, the state of entry must be:

established "in an adversarial manner", that is to say that both parties (or their representatives) must be present;
dated and signed in person by the tenant and the owner; accurate and detailed.
The law provides that it must be done no later than the end of the first month of occupation by the tenant. However, it is better to do it if possible before moving in, because it allows better to see the damage, besides that damage could be caused during the move. The tenant and the owner can draw up themselves the state of the places of entry, this solution known as "amicable" is free. They can also call on a neutral expert (architect, specialized real estate agency, land surveyor ...) to avoid any risk of litigation. The cost of at least several hundred euros will be paid for half by each party.

A clause in the lease agreement that both parties recognize that the rental housing is in good condition is not worth as inventory. It must include both an inventory of all parts of the home, and everything in it (number of rooms, materials, appliances, furniture, number of keys, type of flooring, etc.) and a descriptive part detailing the state of the rooms and the dwelling. So take enough time to properly examine each piece and go through it systematically.

The inventory of fixtures at the exit
When a tenant leaves his home, he is required to return it in the same condition as that in which he was at the beginning of the lease and all equipment must be in good working order. Therefore, at the end of the rental furnished or unfurnished, a new contradictory inventory must be established. Both parties must be present during

I'm interested to know how to avoid paying deposits to landlords for a place that is non-existent or does not meet the stipulations in the contract.

"Is there a list of registered or accredited landlords or real estate agencies in Belgium?"

If there is, at least I'll be more at peace that my deposit won't be for nothing.

irisdecastro wrote:

I'm interested to know how to avoid paying deposits to landlords for a place that is non-existent or does not meet the stipulations in the contract.

"Is there a list of registered or accredited landlords or real estate agencies in Belgium?"

If there is, at least I'll be more at peace that my deposit won't be for nothing.

My advice is never to pay in cash the deposit or rent in Cash, always pay by bank transfer or a bankers draft. Pay it when you are in the property and you receive the keys to the property.

And, if it is not a hotel or a service apartment, never sign any agreement or pay before you physically see the place and do an inspection.

A coworker of mine moved to Belgium, had to go back to their home (Texas / US) for an emergency, expected to return so they signed a lease.  They were unable to return and had to stay in the US. They never made the deposit, utilities, inspection or received the keys.  The landowner is asking for a proposal amount of money to cover their lost money and have relisted the property.