Brussels Parliament tackles exorbitant rents


Photo from the Brussels Times.

The Brussels Parliament is seeking to establish a rent commission to deal with high rental rates, as housing prices continue to climb in the Belgian capital.

“There are abuses in the Brussels rental market,” Arnaud Verstraete, head of the Greens in the Brussels Parliament, told the Brussels Times.

“The prices are way too high for a number of properties. We think it’s about 10%, which is 30,000 properties where prices are really down. “

Verstraete spearheaded the initiative to form a rent commission.

“More and more often we find that people are paying too much for their rental property,” he said.

“With the Rental Assessment Board, we will make sure that people are paying a fair price for their homes again and we will put an end to usurious rents.”

The commission will be made up of tenant and landlord representatives, and the plan is for them to mediate when a tenant suspects they are paying excessive rent for a property.

The inhabitants of Brussels spend on average 42% of their income on rent, while the general rule is not to devote more than a third (33%) of their income to housing costs.

“For many Brussels residents, rents are difficult to pay because they monopolize too much of their income,” explains Verstraete.

“The fact that people in Brussels are paying more and more for their rental property is due to the often excessive rental prices, especially in the lower segment of the rental market. We see that it is often the most vulnerable Brussels residents who are victims of exorbitant rents.

Verstraete hopes that the Rent Assessment Board will make the market fairer for everyone and help improve the financial situation of these vulnerable people.

Under the new legislation, a rent will be deemed exorbitant when it is 20% higher than the benchmark rent, which is determined by independent research in the field related to such things as the size of a property, the number of bedrooms. bedroom, and whether or not it has a garden or terrace, for example.

While benchmark rents came into being around 2016, they didn’t mean much to the market.

“Until now, they were only indicative,” Verstraete said.

“There was no follow-up, punishment or reinforcement if you respected it or not. What is new with this legislation is that you really have to justify yourself if you go outside the scope of these prices. reference – it is up to the owner of the property to prove that it is not abusive.

The newly established Rent Board will use the benchmark rents to determine whether or not someone is paying unfair rent, and then decide on a more appropriate amount.

“Because the committee is made up of representatives of tenants and landlords, it is neutral and guarantees objective and fair advice,” said Verstraete.

“Whoever wants, in Brussels, can consult the reference rents online. If your price is higher than these, you can go to the commission and request a new price.

The existence of the commission should also ease the burden on the court system for such disputes, as it can work faster than the legal system to negotiate a solution between landlord and tenant.

“The idea is that a tenant and a landlord will be willing to come to an agreement. If not, one of them can always go to the justice that already exists – but what is new now is that the justice will also be able to apply the same 20% rule. .

The opposition demanded further scrutiny of the proposal from the State Council before full approval. The initiative will be voted on after the summer at the September plenary session and would come into effect in 2022.

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