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Rental agreements: paying a rental deposit

A rental deposit isn’t a legal requirement in Belgium. But if the landlord chooses to have the tenant pay one, then the conditions of it do become a legal requirement. Be very suspicious if you get offered a rental contract that doesn’t require a rental deposit. It might indicate that the landlord hasn’t got things organised.

It’s not legal for any landlord to demand a rental deposit paid in cash. In fact no cash should change hands at all during the letting process. If as a tenant you hand over cash, you have no legal protection to get that money back. There are only three ways that a rental deposit can be paid that are recognised legally:

Individual account in the tenant’s name

  • It cannot be more than two months rent
  • It must be placed with a recognised financial institution (a bank) in a blocked account in the name of the tenant
  • The landlord can request to be paid the rental deposit directly, but if they do then they are legally required to place it in a blocked account in the name of the tenant. If they don’t then they owe the tenant the average market interest on the sum.
  • The tenant can give an official reminder to the landlord that they need to place it in an account. If they still don’t do that then then the landlord owes the tenant the legal interest on the deposit starting from the date of the reminder was sent.

Tenant pays rental deposit in installments

  • A financial institution guarantees the total sum of the deposit at the moment the contract is signed.
  • The tenant has to pay the deposit during the contract, in monthly installments, and within 3 years.
  • The tenant does not owe the financial institution any interest.
  • The financial institution does not need to pay out interest to the tenant until the deposit has been paid in full.
  • The tenant is also obliged to make their application for this kind of deposit to the financial institution where they have their current account and where they receive their salary or subsidy income.
  • The financial institution cannot deny the tenant the guarantee based on their credit rating.
  • It cannot be more than three months of rent.

Guarantee from the OCMW

  • The OCMW (Public Centre for Social Welfare) can make a request to a financial institution.
  • It cannot be more than three months of rent.

Getting the rental deposit back

At the end of a contract the deposit and the interest on it are paid to the tenant so long as the tenant met all of the contract’s requirements. The financial institution only needs to pay back the deposit if they receive either:

  • A written agreement from the landlord and the tenant, made after the end of the contract. It can either a letter or a special form that can be obtained from the financial institution. It must be signed by both parties.
  • Or a copy of a court decision.

A note on Korfine

Because going to a bank and setting up a new account just for a deposit is more hassle than most of us would like, a lot of tenants use the services provided by Korfine:

  • The landlord and the tenant just need to fill in a pretty simple form and send it back to Korfine, then the tenant is requested to transfer the deposit to Korfine. If you rent through an agent, they will most likely already have the Korfine forms ready for you.
  • It would be great if the form was just available to download online, but you need to actually contact them to get the form and start the process.
  • Korfine sends the landlord and tenant confirmation of the payment.
  • At the end of the contract it’s most common for the tenant (who wants their money back) to contract Korfine again to ask for it to be repaid. They will send another form which needs to be filled in again by both parties and returned to Korfine.
  • Korfine then pays the deposit (plus interest) back to the tenant.

Author: Heather Sills

Guest author
Guest authors are expats and Gentenaars who enjoy spreading the word about Gent to the world. If you'd like to join us, contact us at

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