The Brussels Capital Region has adopted new measures to combat abusive rents.

As of 2 December 2021, it is compulsory to mention the reference rent in the rent agreement.

Recently the Brussels Capital Region published in the Belgian Official Gazette an ordinance introducing a number of changes to the Brussels Housing Code.  

1. Prohibition of 'abusive rents'

The first important change concerns the prohibition to apply 'abusive rents' and the obligation to mention the reference rent in the rent agreement. This reference rent will appear in a grid of indicative rents introduced in Brussels in 2017.

From now on, landlords will be required to state the reference rental price (or the interim rental prices in relation to the reference rental price) in their rent agreements.  

2. Establishment of a joint rental committee

In addition, the new ordinance provides for the creation of a joint rental committee within the Housing Advisory Council. This joint rental commission has an advisory role and can give advice on the fairness of the rent for any housing rent agreement in the Brussels Region (that has not been concluded by a public real estate operator).  

This commission can be called upon by any interested party and by the court judge. The tenant has the option either to engage directly the commission or to direct himself to the court, that can then ask for an opinion from the commission. If the rent turns out to be abusive, it can be reduced by the court. However, the latter is not obliged to follow the advice of the commission.  

3. Review of abusive rents

According to the Ordinance, rents are abusive if:  

  • they are 20 percent above the reference rent.
    This presumption can be refuted when it is demonstrated that the difference between the requested rent and the reference rent is justified by substantial elements of comfort that are inherent to the rented house or the surroundings;
  • they are not 20 per cent above the reference rent, but there are substantial quality defects inherent in the rented house or its surroundings.  

The judgment granting a rent review may go back in time but for not more  than four months before the proceedings were initiated, at the earliest. 

4. Conclusion

This ordinance will enter into force on a date to be determined by the Brussels Government.  

However, the obligation to indicate the reference rent has already entered into force on 2 December 2021.  

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Ulrike Beuselinck

Ulrike Beuselinck

Alain De Jonge

Alain De Jonge