Paying rent in times of corona is not easy for many. Currently, there is no law that would eliminate the obligation for tenants to pay rent. It is also not evident for landlords to respond appropriately to the request or demand of tenants who no longer wish to pay.
The Flemish government is currently addressing the issue of house rental, and has already indicated that eviction would no longer be possible in the event of temporary non-payment during this period.
In the document:
https://www.wonenvlaanderen.be/sites/wvl/files/wysiwyg/bijlage_huurrecht_-_gevolgen_corona-crisis_bis_clean.pdf find answers to some questions about the impact of the corona measures on the rental of private and social housing in the Flemish region.
Not inconceivable that other legal measures will soon follow.
In anticipation of these measures, communication and solidarity between landlord and tenant are the watchwords.
Below we list the most important questions you may have as a business owner.
1. As a tenant in the current corona crisis, can I terminate or rescind my trade lease?
No, this is not possible. As a tenant, it has not become definitively impossible to meet your payment obligation (even if it has become more difficult).
2. Is corona a force majeure situation?
The coronavirus in itself can never constitute a ground of force majeure, but possibly the measures imposed by the government in this context (closure, social distancing, etc.). Whether these measures can effectively be considered force majeure is a factual assessment that will have to be made by the Justice of the Peace. The Justice of the Peace will have to decide whether the execution of the agreement has become temporarily impossible due to these measures. How the Justice of the Peace will deal with this is still uncertain at the present time. The future will have to show this.
In the case of commercial leasing, the situation does not seem evident to us: the lessor still makes his premises available and the lessee still uses them (furnishings, stock, supply, etc. remain on the premises). Only the possibility of receiving customers on the premises has become impossible as a result of the government measure. This does not directly imply that the renting itself has become impossible.
3. What attitude do I take as a tenant?
Don't wait and take action
Under the motto "ask for free", we recommend that you contact your landlord and seek an amicable and feasible solution together. You can ask for a temporary suspension of the rent until the corona crisis is over and count on his solidarity. Not paying the rent, without any prior contact with the landlord, does not seem a correct attitude to us.
4. How do I respond as a landlord if my tenant unilaterally suspends his commitments?
Respond as soon as possible
A late response may possibly be considered as an acceptance of the cessation of payment obligation.
Assess the situation
You cannot - for the time being - be obliged to agree to the tenant's proposal. An amicable agreement with your tenant is of course always possible and in certain cases you as landlord can also benefit from meeting your tenant's needs. A number of elements that may be relevant in this assessment:
- Will this get me into financial trouble myself?
- Do I have a good relationship with my tenant?
- Did my tenant pay for Corona punctually and correctly?
- Does my tenant have to close down completely or can he still continue to operate partially?
- How badly is the tenant affected by Corona?
Is a postponement of rent sufficient to give my tenant breathing room or is a more far-reaching measure required and should the rent be waived in whole or in part?
In doing so, also keep in mind that you do not pay taxes on rent that you might remit.
If the tenant does not respond, but does not pay the rent, be sure not to send a reminder to collect the rent owed. This will make your position clear that you do not wish to relieve the tenant of his payment obligation.
We are, of course, closely monitoring any legal measures from the government and will not fail to inform you in a timely manner.
If you need help or advice to use any of the above support measures, we will be happy to help. Contact us at 051 26 82 68 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, we would like to inform you that we at Titeca have taken all the necessary measures in connection with the coronavirus and are closely following the recommendations of the FPS Public Health. In order to avoid contamination of employees and customers within the offices, we have all digital tools deployed so that our employees from home be able to work.
We stay as always reachable on the known phone number and/or via mail. In addition, we also provide permanency in the offices from Monday through Friday.