Renting a home
A lease contract comes into existence as soon as one person (the lessor, who is usually also the owner) allows another person the use or enjoyment of a property. In return the tenant pays rent to the lessor.
Everyone who has reached the age of majority (older than 18 years) and every minor without a guardian may enter into a valid lease contract.
An existing agreement between lessor and tenant may have been concluded verbally or in writing. As of 15 June 2007, however, all lease agreements must be concluded in writing. Both parties must receive a copy of this contract. In practice, there must therefore always be at least three copies: one for the lessor, one for the tenant and one for the compulsory registration of contract.
Verbal lease contracts which were concluded before 15 June 2007 continue to be valid, but either the lessor or the tenant can demand that the contract be established in writing. This may be done by issuing formal notice to the other party by registered letter or writ.
Condition of the property
At the time when the contract is concluded, the property must meet the" elementary requirements for safety, health and habitability". These requirements mainly apply to:
- functions of the building
- structure and stability
- natural light and ventilation
If the property does not meet these minimum conditions at the time when the tenant wishes to move in, the tenant may:
- ask for the contract to be dissolved (with the payment of damages, if appropriate)
- require the necessary works to be carried out; pending the completion of these works, a court may permit a reduction of the rental price.
These rules do not apply to a renovation contract.
The following information must be given in a written contract:
- the identity of the lessor and tenant
- the starting date of the contract
- an indication of all the rooms and parts of the rented building
- the rent
To avoid any dispute, it is in the tenant's interests that the contract specifically states that the premises will serve as his main residence
The contract is ratified when both the tenant and the lessor sign it.
The lessor must provide two annexes to the lease contract:
- the minimum conditions which any property leased as a main residence must meet in order to comply with the "elementary requirements for safety, health and habitability";
- an explanation of a number of important aspects of the law on domestic leases (this annex will vary depending on the region in which you live).
These annexes are compulsory for all contracts concluded after 18 May 2007.
Since 1 January 2007, the lessor has been obliged to register a written lease contract. He must present the contract to the registration office in the place where the property is situated. On registration, the lease contract is given a "fixed date" and becomes binding on third parties. From this fixed date, the tenant is legally protected against eviction by the new owner if the leased premises are sold.