Writing an end of tenancy letter for a property in Brussels
Both landlords and tenants have to comply with the stringent rules and regulations designed to protect themselves and each other when a tenancy agreement is about to be terminated.
Tenants are exceptionally well protected by the Belgian legal system, imparted with numerous rights. Even the worst behaved tenants can take years to evict, with the reasons to do so severely limited. Notice periods are incredibly lengthy, and the procedure is strict.
There can also be ‘compensation’ to pay, often quite substantial, by either party terminating a lease before its expiry date.
The Brussels Housing Code governs the regulations concerning all rental contracts in the Brussels-Capital Region.
This guide will cover the many aspects relating to giving notice and sending the letter from landlord to tenant, ending a tenancy in Brussels.
Registration of the lease
Each lease in Belgium must be registered within 2 or 4 months of being signed. The registration should be supplied to the office of the Receiver of Registrations, Ministry of Finance. There must be 3 copies of the lease: one for the landlord, one for the tenant, and one for the registry.
The 3-6-9 lease – notice periods
Where a contract is made for 3 years, neither tenant nor landlord can terminate the lease before completion of the term, unless there is a specific provision written into the contract.
Where the landlord terminates the tenancy without good reason, they are bound to pay the tenant an amount of compensation. The amount is governed by the duration of the tenant’s occupation.
- Compensation of 9 months’ rent after an occupation of 3 years
- Compensation of 6 months’ rent after an occupation of 6 years
Termination of the lease must be served by registered letter. The notice period begins on the 1st day of the following month. The landlord must always grant the tenant 6 months’ notice.
A compensation of 18 month’s rent is payable in any instance where the landlord fails to provide the correct amount of notice to the tenant.
Reasons a landlord can terminate a lease
There are only a few reasons a landlord can terminate a lease. Unless the landlord wants to face the high compensation fines, they should adhere to the rules during all action and correspondence, and also within the tenancy contract cancellation letter, for their Brussels properties.
The owner can end the lease at any time for personal occupation. They must provide the tenant with 6-months notice. The personal occupation must be shown in the termination notice as well as the identity of the person occupying the property and their relationship to the landlord.
Reconstruction, transformation or renovation
The owner may also terminate the lease to perform major renovation work on the property. This can only be used as a valid reason for the completion of the first or second 3-year lease term. The tenant must be provided with 6 months notice and the exact reason for the termination. The reconstruction reason for termination must meet 4 conditions of the Brussels Housing Code.
Termination with no motive
The owner may terminate the lease after the first or second 3-year term with no reason, but with the following penalties. The tenant must be given 6-months notice and be paid the corresponding amount of compensation.
The amount of compensation is 9-months rent when the tenancy is terminated at the end of the first 3-year term, or 6-months rent if served at the end of the second 3-year term.
The tenant can terminate the lease with no reason
The tenant can terminate the lease at any time with no reason. They must serve the landlord 3 months’ notice and pay the corresponding compensation, covered by the 3-6-9 agreement.
The compensation amounts are:
- 3 months’ rent if terminated in the first year of the lease
- 2 months’ rent if terminated in the second year of the lease
- 1 months’ rent if terminated in the third year of the lease
From the fourth year, the tenant is no longer required to pay compensation if they wish to terminate the lease early, but the 3-months’ notice period is still required.
How to legally terminate a lease agreement in Brussels, Belgium
Rental contracts in Brussels have three standard durations:
- Short term lease – less than 3 years
- Standard lease – 3 to 9 years
- Long term lease – longer than 9 years
The standard lease is the most common for tenancies throughout Belgium. When the 9-year term of a standard lease is complete, it is automatically renewed unless either the landlord or tenant has given written notice by registered letter with the intention not to renew. The written notice must be provided 6 months in advance of the lease’s termination date.
Where the contract is renewed, this happens in 3-year periods, with any notice of termination given 6 months in advance of the 3-year term completion.
Landlord termination of a lease by eviction
Eviction for non-payment of rent is acceptable in Belgium. The landlord should be aware that this could be a lengthy process when handled by the courts. The duration of the eviction trial can last up to 2 months and may take up to a year for the decision to be enforced.
Legal representation is strongly advised when entering the process.
How to give tenants a notice letter in Brussels
It’s complicated trying to provide a single sample letter giving notice to a tenant in Brussels, as there are many varying factors (notice, reason, compensation) that render each case unique.
The notice letter of the lease will be dependent on the reason for the termination. It may be acceptable to provide a simple letter that includes the landlord’s and tenant’s names and addresses, the dates of the when the lease started when the notice period is set to begin, and when the lease terminates.
It is almost always likely to have to include a reason for termination. If there is compensation to be made, full details must be included specific to each case.
For every unique case, it is recommended that you seek legal guidance when sending a lease termination letter to comply with the country’s laws. A competent Belgian lawyer will be able to supply copy, or a template or sample letter giving a tenant notice in Brussels.
Sample letter of termination of a tenancy agreement, by the tenant
There is no specific legal format required for a tenancy resignation letter in Brussels, but the required 3-months’ notice must be served, in writing, preferably delivered by registered post.
Postcode and City
Country if different from landlord
Landlord Postcode and City
Landlord Country if different from yours
I hereby inform you of my intention to terminate my rental contract for the apartment located <full address to be inserted> which I have occupied since <commencement date on your lease >.
This termination will be effective on the <DATE to be inserted here>, thus respecting the three-month period to which I am bound.
Pending receipt of your response, please accept, Madam, Sir, the expression of my best regards.