The Brussels Ordinance on the regionalisation of the housing lease repeals and replaces the provisions of the law of 20 February 1991 on residential leases as well as certain provisions of the common lease law.
The Ordinance includes, on the one hand, general provisions applicable to all housing leases and, on the other hand, provisions specific to each type of housing lease. The provisions of the Ordinance are incorporated in the existing Brussels Housing Code.
In addition to the types of leases already existing under the law of 20 February 1991, namely the residential lease, the lease to certain legal entities serving a social purpose in order to sublet to a natural person and the renovation lease, the Ordinance creates a new legal framework for two types of housing leases which were previously governed by the general lease principles, namely student housing and co-housing.
Changes were made in the following areas :
- The Ordinance specifies which information the landlord is allowed to require from a selected candidate tenant (e.g. its identity, capacity to contract, number of persons in the household, financial means of the tenant).
- The landlord must provide the future tenant with a number of pre-contractual information (e.g. description of the premises, the amount of rent, an estimate of the individual and municipal charges to be borne by the tenant, whether or not the building is provided with individual gas, water and electricity meters as well as the energy performance certificate). The Ordinance provides for severe sanctions if the landlord does not comply with its pre-contractual information obligation (e.g. claim in view of the judicial dissolution of the lease and/or to obtain damages, administrative fines).
- The landlord is obliged to inform his tenant if he intends to sell the premises before any public announcement is made.
- The landlord is allowed to perform, once per 3-year period, works in view of the improvement of the energy performance of the rented premises.
- If the lease agreement was not registered within a period of 2 months following its signature, the tenant must notify in writing the landlord and request the registration within a month following the notification. The tenant can then terminate the lease without notice or compensation if the landlord fails to register the lease agreement.
- In case the lease agreement does not have a “certain date” prior to the transfer of the rented premises, the purchaser disposes of a period of 6 months, instead of 3 months, as from the signature of the authentic deed, to terminate the lease on certain grounds.
In accordance with the Ordinance, the short-term lease may end prior to its expiry date subject to a 3-month notice and an indemnity equal to 1-month rent.
In addition, the Ordinance provides for the possibility to extend the short-term lease several times, at the same conditions, for a total maximum duration of 3 years.
As mentioned above, the Ordinance creates a new non-binding legal framework for student housing which is more suitable to the current student lifestyle (e.g. Erasmus, second examination sessions).
- In order to benefit from this specific regime, the tenant must provide proof of his regular enrolment within a school of secondary or higher education.
- The duration of the student lease agreement is of maximum 12 months, renewable by periods of one year.
The landlord may terminate the lease subject to a 3-month notice prior to the expiry date. The tenant may terminate the lease at any time subject to a 2-month notice. In addition, the tenant is given the possibility to terminate the lease until one month prior to its effective entry into the premises, provided that he invokes good grounds which may be demonstrates by all legal means. In this case, he pays the landlord an indemnity equal to one month rent.
A new student housing label will be awarded to student houses that meet quality criteria.
The Ordinance also creates a new non-binding legal framework for co-housing which ensures security for all the occupants of the premises as well as the landlord.One single lease agreement binds the tenants to the landlord and a co-housing pact (fixing the rules of common life, the distribution of rent, the guarantee, the subscription of insurance, etc.) is attached to this lease agreement. The co-tenants are jointly and severally liable towards the landlord for the obligations resulting from the lease. If one of the co-tenants wants to leave the premises, the co-housing regime foresees a 2-month notice, without any indemnity, provided that a new co-tenant, accepted by the group, is found or that an active and sufficient search to find a new co-tenant was done.
Most of the provisions of the Brussels Ordinance are directly applicable to ongoing leases, except for the provisions with regard to student housing, co-housing and those regarding the conclusion of lease agreements.