Accommodation in Belgium

House in Belgium
Updated 2021-12-20 14:29

If you've decided to expatriate to Belgium, housing is going to be the first thing to do on your list. Here's how to find accommodations in Belgium.  

A healthy real estate market

Belgium does not seem to have been a victim of the economic crisis when it comes to real estate. In general, renting and buying property in Belgium have remained stable, even during the pandemic.

Where to live in Belgium depending on your native language

Unless you speak the three languages (French, Dutch, and German), you might want to live in a town that speaks your native language. Here's a reminder of the different zones in Belgium and the languages spoken in them:

  • Flanders (North): Dutch (Flemish)
  • Wallonia (South): French (Walloon)
  • Eastern districts: German
  • Brussels (the capital city): a bilingual region that speaks both French and Flemish

Belgium is composed of 581 towns. That's to say, it's very easy to find the type of accommodation you need.

How to find accommodation in Belgium

Several websites dedicated to housing can help you find accommodation in chosen regions and zones while respecting your budget.

Most of the time, landlords put a sign outside their property. This way, you might find something by simply walking around in the neighborhood that interests you.

Several agencies can also help you find accommodations, taking into account all your needs. You may also ask agents to take care of everything and look for properties for you. Some popular ones include BBF, Homelike, Immoweb, and Spotahome. Landlords are responsible for the agency fees, so if any agents try to charge you that fee, that's a red flag.

You can also check local newspapers and even random ads online. There are Facebook groups for housing in specific towns, so you can check there as well.

You should know that most rental properties don't come with furniture, so you'll have to supply them yourself. This includes things you might not expect, like light fixtures, carpets, and curtains.

The tenancy agreement

Unlimited tenancy agreements don't exist anymore in Belgium. Therefore, landlords can offer you these four options:

  • Nine-year tenancy agreement
  • Short-term tenancy agreement: three years or less
  • Long-term tenancy agreement: more than nine years
  • Lifelong tenancy agreement

Nine-year tenancy agreement: This is the most common type of tenancy agreement. This contract doesn't actually mention the duration for the renting period, or it mentions an agreement of three to nine years. The renting period starts on the date stipulated in the written agreement. You don't actually have to stay for the entire nine years; it just allows you to give notice whenever you want, given that you've stayed for at least three years. Also, the landlord can only raise your rent every three years.

Short-term tenancy agreement: The duration of stay here can't exceed three years. This agreement can be extended only once, as a written agreement, detailing the exact same conditions as the original one. After that, you'll be converted to a nine-year contract.

Long-term tenancy agreement: This contract is for renting exceeding nine years but still has a determined duration. The conditions are the same as the nine-year agreement.

Lifelong tenancy agreement: This contract ends when the tenant dies. Landlords can't break this agreement themselves. On the other hand, tenants can, with a nine-month notice.

Whatever lease you sign, it must be registered within two months. This is your landlord's responsibility, but you can also do it if you wish. This process is free, so if your landlord tries to charge you, they're trying to scam you.

The deposit

In the case of damages and misconduct from the tenant, landlords ask for rental guarantees. However, this guarantee is mandatory only if the rental agreement mentions it. No law stipulates that tenants must give rental guarantees. They can equal up to three months of rent.

There are three different deposits:

  • A transfer on a blocked account on behalf of the tenant
  • Monthly payments by the tenant to the landlord
  • A contract between a financial institution and The Public Centre for Social Action, for example

Refund of the deposit

Landlords have to give the deposit back to tenants when they move out. Obviously, the deposit is refunded entirely if the property is in good condition and if the tenant always paid the rent on time. This refund is officialized by a letter or a form, signed by both parties.

The inventory

In Belgium, an inventory has to be made when a new tenant moves in and out. Both the landlord and the tenant have to be there. This is essential for the landlord to check the accommodation is in good condition before a new tenant moves in. If the accommodation isn't livable, tenants can ask landlords to fix the issues. The inventory has to be filed via a document, dated, and signed by both parties. The inventory is part of the tenancy agreement.

The same inventory is made when a tenant moves out. This checks that they've left the accommodation in a good state for the next tenant.

The rent

There's no law regarding rent in Belgium. Landlords are free to set up the rent amount themselves. However, authorities have created a rent calculator. It allows tenants to know what amount they'd pay for accommodation, depending on the set price of the contract, the date when it's signed, and the date when the tenant moves in.

Every year, landlords can raise the rent if cost of living increases as well. They're required by law to inform you by writing.

Tenants also have to pay for any charges (water bills, gas, electricity, and communal area upkeep.) They can also pay it as a fixed amount added to the rent. The amount would've been determined in the tenancy agreement.

Do note that you're also expected to pay for most minor repairs. While this is an added burden as a renter, there's an upside: you have more freedom when it comes to decorating your accommodation.

Taxes for tenants

Withholding taxes apply on rented properties, but only landlords are entitled to pay them. Therefore, it's illegal to ask a tenant to pay taxes on a tenancy agreement.

Useful links:

Economy FGOV



Institute of Professional Real Estate Agents

Brussels Irisnet

Belgium Portal - Housing


EU Rentals

Logic Immo

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