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The owner has the right to terminate the lease before its expiry date:
- The owner may end the lease at any time for personal occupation on condition that the tenant receives notice of six months. The rental agreement may exclude or limit (for example, as to the time or persons concerned) the right of the owner to terminate the lease in order to occupy it personally. To be valid, the notice must mention the reason given and the identity of the person who will personally and actually occupy the leased property, and his or her relationship with the landlord. (Art. 237, §2 BHC)
- The owner may, but only on completion of the first or second triennium (three-year period), also terminate the lease if he intends to carry out reconstruction, transformation or renovation work in the rented property. The rental agreement may exclude or limit (for example, as to the time) the right of the owner to end the lease in order to carry out work. This option can only be exercised by the owner if he gives the tenant six months’ notice and specifies the exact reason. This reason must meet four conditions defined in the Brussels Housing Code. (Art. 237, §3 BHC)
- The owner may, but only on completion of the first or second triennium, terminate the lease without having to specify the motive by paying the tenant compensation. The rental agreement may exclude or limit the right of the owner to terminate the lease without a reason. To be able to exercise this right of termination, the owner must give the tenant six months’ notice and pay compensation. This compensation is equal to nine months’ rent if notice is served at the end of the first triennium and six months’ rent if notice is served at the end of the second triennium. (Art 237, §4 BHC)
-The tenant is also entitled to terminate the lease, at any time, by giving notice of three months. In this case, he would also have to pay compensation of three, two or one months’ rent depending on whether he ended occupation during the first, second or third year of the lease. From the fourth year of the lease onwards, the tenant is no longer bound to pay compensation if he wishes to terminate the contract early, but the three-month notice period is still required. (Art. 237, §5 BHC)
IT IS THEREFORE IMPORTANT TO SIGN A LEASE THAT SUITS THE LENGTH OF YOUR STAY!
(Art. 248 – 249 BHC)
The rental guarantee is an amount of money which compensates the owner if his property is damaged. Almost all property owners in Belgium demand a rental guarantee equal to a maximum of two or three months’ rent. This sum has to be paid when the rental contract is signed and before occupation.
Two types of guarantee
- The transfer of the guarantee onto a “blocked bank account”, which is the most common system. In this case, the sum is equal to two months’ rent. Both the owner and tenant must sign a document to open this type of account. The guarantee remains the property of the tenant and interest earned is due to him up until the time he leaves the property. Tenants should request this document from a bank. (Art. 248, §3 BHC)
- The bank guarantee: in this case, the sum is equivalent to three months’ rent. This system is chosen when the tenant is unable to pay the whole rental guarantee in one payment. When the rental contract has been drawn up, the bank becomes the guarantor on behalf of the tenant. The tenant pays the guarantee (equal to 3 months’ rent) to the bank by monthly transfer for the duration of the rental contract, up to a maximum period of three years. This scenario is infrequent today! (Art. 248, §4 BHC)
If you pay the guarantee in cash or by bank transfer to the owner’s current account, this sum will be considered as payment of a debt and you will lose claim to it in the event of the owner’s insolvency.
Avoid paying it in cash but if you do so, request a signed receipt from the landlord in as many copies as there are parties to the agreement.
Release of the guarantee (Art. 249, §2 BHC)
The guarantee will only be reimbursed on presentation of a signed agreement between the owner and tenant drawn up when the lease has ended. This agreement may be in the form of a letter or a special form supplied by the bank and signed by the two parties.
Reimbursement of the rental guarantee will only be made on the condition that no rental damage is detailed in the outgoing inventory check or proven by the owner if no incoming inventory check was carried out. The two parties then sign a form prepared by the bank on which details of the calculation of the balance of the rental guarantee are explained. The actual amount reimbursed to the tenant depends on the assessment of rental damage. Once the bank has received this form or letter (signed by both parties), it will credit the tenant with the final sum.
In the event of a dispute, the rental guarantee can be released via an enforceable judgement from the justice of the peace in the judicial district where the property is located. This means that the judgement can be enforced in spite of any appeal procedures and in spite of the sum being blocked on an account.