*This article is applicable on Flemish legislation*
Well hello there readers, It's been a while since I've posted a new. I'll start with broadening your knowledge about real estate with a topic that might be useful to you.
Perhaps you've been thinking about moving out of your parents' house and finding a place of your own, or with a partner... Or maybe you've been considering to move to a new city, or from a house to an apartment... But overall you sense some uncertainty, maybe a fear for the unkown. That's completely normal, buying real estate and moving out is a very big step. So there's a in between solution: renting.
I've talked about the sales process a lot, but I've experienced in my own inner circle, that the rental path is also unknown territory to many, and perhaps even more complicated than sales. I notice that a lot of my friends start with renting to take the first step. But also a lot of my clients who are used to living on the countryside, and want to know whether they like the city lifestyle.
As for the search of a property, it's more or less the same as I explained in my article about the first steps in the sales proces. The contract however, is different. It's important to know that there are two types in the residential market: lease in accordance with civil law and lease for a main residence. The difference lies mainly in the flexibility of the contract en the protection towards the main residence.
The first one is sometimes used for comapnies who rent an office or a place for a living-working combination, the tenant is a legal entity and not the person itself. But that's not necessarily the case, could also be used for second residences or if you want to keep you domicile with your parents... This type of contract follows the law, but can also be bend by the situation. They're often used for short term rentals, meaning less than one year.
The latter follows the standard of the residential leases act and offers the tenant a lot of protection. I will be covering the main areas below:
There are two types of contracts; short term contracts and standard contracts.
Short term contracts are concluded for a period of 1 - 2 or 3 years and a standard contract for 9 years. In contrary to the short term contracts, the 9 years period is not binding, you can terminate the contract earlier than the expiration date. This is not the case with short term contracts, they're contract duration is binding.
Update 2020: It is now possible to terminate a short term contract before its expiration date.
A short term contract can be prolonged once, without exceeding a total of 3 years. A short term contract can also flow into a standard contract if nor the owner nor the tenant terminate the contract in writing before the experation date.
Termination and notice period for the tenant
Both contracts can always be terminated by the tenant 3 months before the expiration date. Standard contracts can be terminated at any time but you have to take into account that you always have to give 3 monthts notice and that period starts the month after the date of the termination letter. So if you send the letter the 23rd of May, your notice period starts in June and you have to move out before the 1st of September. Meaning that you still have to pay rent for 3 months and there's also a fine clause. If you terminate the contract in the first year, you have to pay 3 months extra as a fine, in the second year its two months and in the third year one month.
! Update 2020: terminating a short term contract beforehand is now possible with a 3 months notice period and a penalty from 1,5 months, 1 month or 1/2 month's rent.
Termination and notice period for the owner
Take into account that the owner can also terminate the contract with a notice period of 6 months before the expiration date. He can also do it at any time with due observance of a notice period of at least 6 months for the following reasons:
- if he wishes the property to be occupied by either himself or his blood relatives or those of his spouse in the direct or indirect line up to the third degree
Upon the expiration of the first and second three year period, and if a notice period of six months is observed:
- he wishes to reconstruct, modify or renovate the property for which he will need to invest more than a certain amount of rent specified in the law
- without any obligation to provide a reason, he must however pay an indemnification of nine or six months’ rent, depending on whether the notification is given at the end of the first or the second three year period
From 1 January 2019, the deposit value will be 3 months rent, to be deposited on a bank account that both parties can't access.
- As explained earlier, there are monthly fees to be paid in an apartment, part of them will be for your account now.
- And ofcourse foresee a budget for: gas, water, electricity and internet.
- A very important one is also that you have to take an insurance for the inside of the apartment for risks as fire, water and glass damage during the entire duration of the contract. I recommend to inform you with your families' bank instance or insurance company in order to get the best rate.
- You will be asked to take care of the property so you will have to ge the heating system, arconditioning or whatever checked every one or two years, whatever the system requires.
A lessor or real estate agent can ask proof that you have a steady income, you can provide 3 recent pay slips. Take into account that in the offices, we have to judge by the fact that you can't spend more that half of your monthly income on rent, otherwise we might ask for a garantuee.
Before the start of the contract, the state of the apartment will be written down and when you leave the exact same thing will be done. If there are any other damages in stead of the normal usage, there will be an amount deducted of the deposit.
And that are the basics about renting, I hope this was useful to you. Do let me know whether you like it and whether you had to use my advice or if you are planning on taking important real estate steps.
Have a nice weekend!
All my best,