Every rental property located in Flanders must meet a series of basic quality and safety standards as laid down in the Flemish Housing Code. These are minimum requirements which the rental property must meet in terms of safety, health and housing quality. These requirements must protect the tenant against malpractice on the rental market and thus offer a guarantee of decent housing. If the property does not meet the relevant standards, the landlord may risk having the rental agreement declared null and void or this may even result in the property being declared uninhabitable.
At the start of the rental agreement and throughout the rental period, the home must comply with legal requirements on safety, health and quality, which have been constantly tightened over the years. For example, a rental property must, among others, respond to:
- the minimum comfort requirements
- the presence of sanitary facilities such as running water as well as a functioning toilet
- connection for a heating device
- the requirements of sturdiness and structural stability
- the requirements of safety
- the absence of CO hazards by providing safe gas and heating installations
- sufficient smoke detectors
- safety of stairs
- the requirements of health
- the absence of moisture problems
- potable water
- natural lighting and possibility of ventilation
- minimum insulation requirements
- the obligation of roof insulation
- obligation of double glazing
Since January 1, 2020, it is mandatory to provide the rental property with double glazing. However, this obligation only applies to the windows in the main parts of the house where most time is spent, namely the living rooms, kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms. The windows in the corridors/halls, for example, do not have to be double glazed.
- surface area requirements
- the rental property must be of sufficient size for the number of persons who will occupy it (to avoid overcrowding).
During an on-site inspection by housing inspectors of the municipality in which the rental property is located or by the inspectors of Wonen-Vlaanderen, it is assessed based on a checklist (technical report) whether the property meets the legal safety, health and housing quality standards.
Each defect identified during this compliance examination is assigned a number of penalty points, taking into account the type and severity of the defect. Depending on the number of penalty points awarded, the dwelling is classified in a category (ranging from 1 to 4) and may even be declared unfit and/or incompetent. A property can be declared unfit as soon as 15 penalty points have been allocated. The property may also be declared uninhabitable if acute safety and/or health risks were identified during the investigation. Thus, more than 4,100 homes were declared unfit and/or uninhabitable in 2019.
In addition to this possible declaration of unfitness and/or uninhabitability, a rental property that does not meet the minimum quality standards may not be rented out. If it is rented out anyway, the rental agreement may be declared null and void. This annulment means that the tenant must vacate the rental property and the landlord must in turn refund the rent already paid to the tenant. The lease is thus deemed never to have existed.
Certificate of conformity
A landlord may request a certificate of compliance for the rental property. Although it is not a legal requirement to have such a certificate (unless the municipality in which the rental property is located requires this via municipal regulations), this certificate confirms that the property complies with legal requirements in terms of safety, health and quality. This gives a positive signal to the (potential) tenants.
In summary, landlords have every interest in ensuring that their rental property meets all safety, health and housing quality standards, otherwise they risk being excluded from the rental market. Through these ever-tightening (minimum) requirements that a rental property must meet, tenants thus obtain the guarantee of decent living.
Would you like more information or to know which premiums you, as a landlord, may be able to call upon to make your property rent proof? You can reach us at any time by calling 051 26 82 68 or by emailing email@example.com.