We had been expecting it for some time. The regionalization of the Residential Lease has finally arrived in Brussels. In 2014, the second part of the 6th state reform provided for a transfer of jurisdiction from the federal state to the regions concerning the matter of residential leases. That has now been done.
On 27 July 2017, the Brussels Parliament finally decided, by means of an ordinance, to introduce its own regulations on residential leases. This reform, introduced in Title XI (Articles 215 to 266) of the Brussels Housing Code, effectively entered into force on 1 January 2018.
Since then, this new regional regulation has effectively replaced the federal law of 10 February 1991 on the principal residence lease in the Brussels-Capital Region and applies mandatorily to all residential leases, including leases already operative. Only the new provisions provided for in Articles 217, 218 and 219 §§4 and 5 are inapplicable to leases already in effect on 1 January 2018, since these are entirely new provisions, which the parties could not have complied to before the entry into force of the ordinance.
With the inauguration of the new Title XI, the Brussels Region has endorsed, on the one hand, some new general rules on residential leases. On the other hand, it complements the regulation pertaining to existing leases and introduces several new forms of leases, in order to ensure greater legal certainty, and to take current socio-economic needs into account:
- New common rules:
From now on, the Brussels legislator has, among other things, decided to:
- enshrine a real statutory pre-contractual information requirement on the lessor’s part (e.g. provide an accurate estimate of the amount of charges, PEB certificate …), as well as an arsenal of sanctions related thereto (resolution of the lease, damages and interests, power of the judge to limit the amount of the charges owed by the lessee to the amount agreed upon before the conclusion of the lease),
- establish a new opportunity for the lessor to carry out refurbishment work during the lease, in order to improve the PEB of its property (only for long-term leases);
- reform the civil sanction relating to the lack of registration for the principal residence lease and for the new student housing lease (the lessee can now terminate the lease without notice or compensation provided that the lessor has formally been summoned by registered letter to register the lease and this request has remained unanswered for two months);
- allow the landlord to consider the lease as terminated without notice or compensation in case of death of the lessee provided that the housing remains vacant after the lessee’s passing away and the rent and / or charges remain unpaid for two months (recovery of the rental guarantee on simple unilateral request to the Justice of the Peace);
- consider as null and void any arbitration clause agreed to by the contracting parties before the dispute arose.
- Reformed existing leases and brand new kinds of leases:
The principal residence lease:
- the existing provisions on the principal residence lease remain globally applicable;
- the legislator has finally decided to regulate short-term leases (maximum 3 years). One of the notable advances is the statutory short-term lease termination opportunity (for example, the lessee may decide at any time, without cause, to terminate the lease with three months’ notice and one month’s compensation. The same rule applies to the lessor, except that the lessor cannot use this option during the first year of the lease);
- the legislator has also decided to sanction the lessor who does not deposit the rental guarantee onto a blocked account (in that case, the lessor shall be charged with interests calculated from the delivery of the rental guarantee at the average interest rate of the financial market on the amount of the rental guarantee, with the statutory interest rate as a minimum).
The student housing lease:
- lease presumably signed for up to twelve months (less time allowed);
- in order for the legal regime governing the student housing lease to apply, the parties must expressly consent to it and the lessee must provide the lessor with proof of his regular enrollment in an educational establishment;
- some notable advantages of this form of lease involve on the one hand the yearly automatic extension of the lease (the one-year lease is automatically extended by periods of one year if the student stays in the premises) and on the other hand the statutory regulations governing the termination of the lease (the lessor may terminate the lease at its contractually-agreed-upon term by giving a three months’ notice. The Lessee may terminate the lease at any time, subject to a two months’ notice, provided that the lease is concluded for more than three months. The lessee may also terminate the lease without notice if he leaves at the end of the lease).
The roommate’s co-location :
- this is the rental of the same dwelling by several lessees, formalized by the conclusion of a single contract between the lessor and lessees;
- this new legal framework only applies if the parties consent to it;
- this new type of lease formalizes the existence of statutory joint and several liability between roommates towards the lessor, as well as the obligation for the roommate who chooses to anticipatively terminate his own participation in the lease before it ends, to find an adequate substitute lessee to take up his place for the remainder of the contract.
The intergenerational and solidarity-based housing lease is a brand new kind of lease still in project, aiming at creating a form of collective housing, which could be part of a whole new kind of social development scheme.
The sliding lease is a lease intended for people in a state of precariousness or fragility and who benefit from social support.
For more information on this piece of legislation, feel free to contact Frédéric PAQUE esq. (firstname.lastname@example.org)