Believe it or not, legally in Belgium you can have a verbal or written rental agreement. However, as most people are likely to get, or insist upon, a written agreement, we’re focusing our posts about rental agreements on that. This overview covers what you can expect to see in a contract, as well as extra documents or things that need to happen when you rent a place in Belgium. The information in this post, and linked-to posts, is taken from the Belgian Rental Law (available in Dutch here).
What must a rental agreement contain?
By rental agreement we refer not just to one document that you might call a contract, but also to supporting documents. The following list covers everything that the bundle of paperwork needed to rent a place must contain:
- The identity of the parties, so the landlord and the tenant.
- The start date of the agreement
- The duration of the agreement. If one isn’t specified, it is automatically a 9-year contract.
- The designation of all rooms and parts of the building that are the subject of the agreement.
- The cost of the rent
- The number of signed originals of the contract (see below for more info)
- Confirmation that the property is in a condition suitable for its purpose (i.e. habitable) and that the landlord is required to maintain it. Even if the landlord includes a clause that states that the tenant is responsible for maintenance, this does not hold any legal standing.
- A property description, known as a plaatsbeschrijving
- The deposit, known as the waarborg
Number of originals
When renting a property in Belgium you may find yourself having to sign many bits of paper. Here’s the short reason why:
- Each party involved in the contract – normally just the landlord and the tenant – must have an original of the contract, so that makes two.
- But, in practise, a third document is signed and the landlord uses this to register the tenancy.
- Married (or legally living together – wettelijk samenwonend) couples count as two parties, so each person should get their own documents. If you fall into this category you should include your legal relationship status in the contract as this may give you better rights later on. If you later get married or become wettelijk samenwonend (after having signed a rental agreement) you should inform the landlord in writing.
Registering the rental agreement
- The landlord (and only the landlord) is legally obliged to register the rental agreement within 2 months of it being signed. A third original that tenants sign is provided to the authorities during registration.
- Any time the contract changes, or is extended, these changes/extensions need to also be formally registered by the landlord.
- Registering has no cost, so don’t let any landlord try to tell you there’s a fee for this that you need to cover.
- If registration doesn’t happen (and the duration of the contract is 9 years), the tenant is entitled to end the contract without any notice period or fine.
- But, generally the registration is there to protect you as a tenant from 3rd parties (e.g. someone else claiming to live there, or someone who later buys the property off the landlord), so if anything this is something that you want your landlord to do, and it’s advisable to check that your landlord has done this.
Note: While we have done our best to make sure this information is accurate, rules and regulations change and each individual situation might be different, so it is always a good idea to check with appropriate authorities for the latest information. Consequently, the authors do not assume any responsibility or liability for any issues or damages stemming from the use of the information found on this website.