Rental deposits allowed to increase by 50%


Poverty campaigners are unhappy with a new decree that allows landlords to require a guarantee of three months’ rent instead of two

‘Balanced framework’

The maximum deposit demanded by landlords has been increased from two months’ rent to three, following a decree passed by the housing minister, Liesbeth Homans.

Anyone renting an apartment at €500 a month, for example, will now have to pay €2,000 – three months’ deposit plus the first month’s rent – before they can move in.

According to Homans, the higher deposit gives owners better security against rent default or damage caused to property, and is an incentive to consider tenants who may have less of a credit rating.

“The rental decree creates a balanced framework where renting remains interesting for the landlord, while offering affordable, high-quality and stable rentals for the tenant,” Homans said. It also addresses some problems uncovered by the previous federal regulations, such as sub-letting and student accommodation, she said.

“That is totally impossible for people on low incomes,” a spokesperson for the Netwerk tegen Armoede (Network Against Poverty) said. “A higher deposit is an old formula that has been shown not to work. Tenants will now start off renting a home with more financial problems, which only increases the risk of problems paying. A higher deposit doesn’t solve any problems at all.”

Homans, meanwhile, has proposed an anonymous, interest-free loan system that would advance the deposit to the new tenant under certain conditions. Homans’ coalition partners CD&V supported the deposit increase on condition the loan system be up and running.

“The loans bring up more questions than answers,” a spokesperson for the Network Against Poverty said. “How big is the target group? How do you apply for such a loan? How long does the procedure take? People can’t wait around for months before putting their deposit on the table.”

Photo: Herwig Vergult/Belga