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The new draft Flemish Lease Decree: change to tenants’ family situation

The new Flemish Lease Decree shakes up the rules for tenants and landlords. The decree comes into effect in the spring of 2019. But what difference will it make if your tenants’ family situation changes? It will soon be simpler for one of the tenants to cancel their part of the tenancy agreement.
Who will stays in the home and who moves out? A difficult decision. If the couple lives in a rented property, it’s even more complicated ...
“The current tenancy laws don’t cover this situation and the courts vary widely in how they answer this question. Some rule that the tenancy agreement can only be cancelled by both tenants jointly, while others allow it to be cancelled by one of them alone. To end this uncertainty, the new draft lease decree introduces the concept of co-tenancy (medehuur)”, Flemish Housing Minister, Liesbeth Homans (N-VA), explained in financial daily De Tijd.

Moving in together

Your tenant has signed a tenancy agreement and then meets someone. They decide to live together in the rented property. What are your rights as a landlord?

If the couple is married or legally cohabiting

The draft lease decree stipulates that the party moving in automatically becomes a co-tenant.

If the couple is cohabiting on a de facto basis

The party moving in doesn’t automatically become a co-tenant, but they can request this of the landlord. If you refuse this as a landlord, the couple can take legal action to enforce it.

If a legally cohabiting or married couple separates

Both partners must agree who will stay and who will move out. The party moving out may be required to continue to pay the rent for a further period of up to six months. Once the partner staying carries on the tenancy agreement alone, this must be communicated to the landlord. At present, the party moving out is liable until the marriage is dissolved or the legal cohabitation ended. Under the new decree - if the tenancy agreement was signed by both partners initially - the tenant moving out may be required to pay the rent for a further period of six months (if the remaining tenant fails to fulfil their obligations).
Remember, this is a draft decree. The government could still tweak it. The new rules are intended to apply to all tenancy agreements signed from spring 2019. They don’t cover agreements entered into before that date or renewals.
Stay tuned, we will explore the increasingly popular housing concept of cohousing in the next blog post. What will change there?

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