Buying a property in Belgium
Whether you’re renting a property in Belgium or taking the plunge and buying there are some key things you need to bear in mind!
As with all countries, property/rental prices in Belgium are at their highest in the most popular locations. The most popular (and therefore most costly) locations in Belgium include Antwerp, and Brussels. In smaller towns, rural areas/regions renting and purchasing property can be substantially cheaper.
Whether to rent or buy a home is one of the biggest dilemmas expats face. Unless you’re already very familiar with the area you’re relocating to renting for at least the first few months is generally recommended.
With renting it’s important to note that very few flats or houses come furnished, rent is typically due monthly and as well as rental charges tenants have to pay for utilities. The cost of water, heating and electricity generally come in at roughly a quarter of the monthly rent.
In Belgium renting is the norm for expats and locals alike and there are several options available. Be aware that Belgium has an odd system of a standard nine-year flexible lease, and an inflexible three-year lease where base rent prices can be increased at each three-year term of the contract. At first sight the three-year lease seems the more attractive to a newcomer whose time in the country is uncertain, but this is not necessarily the case.
A three-year lease can be for any agreed period up to a maximum of three years. It fixes the rent for the period of the lease and commits the tenant to pay for the entire period of the lease. It can include a diplomatic clause (designed to indemnify the tenant if he wants to break the lease because he is leaving the country) but these have been nullified by the Belgian Courts in the past.
So, it is actually better to opt for a nine-year lease, which can in fact be broken by giving three months’ notice. However, if you leave in the first, second or third year, you will pay an indemnity of three; two or one month’s rent respectively. From year four, there is no penalty for leaving.
If you’re a citizen of the European Union then you will have the right to buy property in Belgium. Other nationals have to apply for a VISA and work permits before being able to purchase a property. Buying a house in Belgium is a relatively simple process, with you (the buyer) firstly signing a commitment to purchase once you have found a desired property. This gives the buyer the option to buy without a financial commitment, but will become a confirmed deal with the signing of an agreement to purchase.
Once the legal paperwork and mortgage agreement has been secured and approved – a process taking up to a maximum of four months – you will then sign a final contract of purchase, and the purchase of your house is complete.