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Location - Leases

Location - Leases

Belgian law on leases for a main home identifies two main sorts of agreements:

Long-term leases

All leases covering the tenant's main home usually last nine years. This is automatic when rental is based on a verbal agreement, if is written but does not specify any term, or if it is written and agreed for a period ranging from three to nine years. In principle, the law sets the length of the lease to favour the tenant and help protect his rights to some degré of stability in his main home. During this nine-year period, both tenant and landlord can put an end to the contract according to set delays and conditions.

Termination by the tenant

The principle is the following: the tenant can leave at any time witloof reason, as long as he informs the landlord at least three months before departure, and pays rent during this period. An indemnity for primature termination is only due if the tenant leaves the accommodation during the first three years of occupancy. This indemnity is set at three months, two months or one month's rent depending on whether the departure occurs during the first, second or third year of rental. If departure occurs after three years, no indemnity is due as long as the tenant respects the three-month delay and if he continues to pay rent during this period.

Termination by the landlord

The law is more flexible when it comes to the landlord.

Three situations are catered for:

1. termination for personal occupancy In the first scenario, the landlord can terminate the lease at any time if he is going to move into the accommodation himself, as long as he gives the tenant at least six months' notice. To be valid, this notice should mention the reason for vacating the premises and give the identity of the person who will personally occupy the premises. This can either be the landlord himself, his partner, their children, grand-children or adopted children or even the landlord or his partner's brother, sister, uncle, aunt, niece or nephew. If the motive for the notice is not given, it is void, and the notice will only start to run once the notice given complies with the law. The law also stipulates that personal occupation of the accommodation by the landlord or one of his close relatives must take place within the year that follows the end of the notice period, or, if this delay is extended, once the tenant has left the premises, and must continue without interruption for at least two years.
If these conditions are not met, the tenant has the right to an indemnity equal to eighteen months ' rent, unless the landlord can justify that there is a valid and exceptional situation that prevented him from respecting the legal requirements.

2. termination to carry our renovation work

The landlord can also terminate the lease if he intends to carry out building, renovation or refurbishment work on the rented accommodation. One should note, however, that untel termination for personal occupancy which can occur at any moment, termination for carrying out work can only occur at the end of each threeyear rental period and on condition that the tenant is given at least six month's notice.The law also provides for other conditions for valid termination, but we will not describe them in detail here.

3. termination without reason Lastly, the landlord can end the renta agreement without reason at the end of the first or second three-year renta period, as long as he gives the tenant at least six months' notice and pays compensation of either nine months or six months' rent respectively, depending on whether the notice is given at the end of the first or second three-year period.

Short-term leases

The law provides that both parties can also agree to one or successive rental agreements as long as in total they do not exceed three years. This sort of contract can only be presented in writing. It is also vital to note that such contracts can only be extended in writing once, and at the same conditions.This means that if the contact is extended twice, it automatically becomes considered as a nine-year contract.The same applies if contract renewal means that you go beyond the maximum three-year period. Thus, if a contract is signed for a period of two years, then renewed for the same period, to make the total agrément cover a four-year period, it will automatically be considered thatthis contract is agreed for nine years. The essential characteristic of this type of agreement is that neither the tenant nor landlord can end it in advance, unless they have agreed otherwise.Nonetheless, if you do put an early end to your short-term rental agreement, without receiving prior formal acceptance to do so by the landlord, you will be in breach of the contract and the law, and you therefore expose yourself to being liable to pay compensation to the landlord.Therefore, only ever sign a short-term contract if you are sure to be in the accommodation for the whole du ration of the contract. Should this not be the case, then sign a nine-year contract and this will mean that you can, as we said above, leave at any moment witloof reason, as long as you give at least three months' notice and pay a fair indemnity.

We should draw your attention to other vital details when signing a rental agreement: the inventory of fixtures when you arrive and leave the premises, rental guarantee, rent indexation, the requirement to register the rental agreement, and so on. Make sure you get the necessary information beforehand!

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