Will Brussels soon remove restrictions on Rent Slides?

Brussels Soon Remove Restrictions on Rent Slides

Brussels Housing Minister Nawal Ben Hamou has called for a continuation of the freeze on rent slides for energy inefficient properties. However, the measure was introduced forone year starting October 14, 2022, and it seems unlikely that it will be extended by the regional authorities.

Last October, the Brussels regional government finally approved the sliding rent regulation after months of deliberations. The decision was heavily contested by center-right groups, including Défi and Open VLD. At the time, the decisions taken in Walloon and Flanders played an important role in tipping the balance in favor of rent control.

If energy bills go down, will rents go up?

The Flanders and Walloon regions have already expressed their intention not to extend this measure. In addition, several majority partners have indicated reluctance or outright opposition.

To understand the background and content of this measure, it is important to recall its implementation. Last October, inflation surged to about 11.85%, which had a significant impact on the rents of many Brussels residents.

Given that more than 60% of Brussels citizens are renters, this presented a significant challenge. Many of these renters lived in poorly insulated properties and already had high energy bills. The measure passed by the Brussels Parliament aims to prevent double financial burdens.

Under the measure, only properties with an EPB (Energy Performance of Buildings) rating of A, B, C, or D were eligible for 100% rent indexing; properties with an EPB rating of E were capped at 50%. Notably, properties with an EPB rating of F or G, or without energy certification, were not eligible for the index. It is worth noting that only 48% of individual homes were energy certified at the time.

However, the current energy price situation does not favor the renewal of this measure in its current form. Energy prices are lower than in previous years, and both the South and the North have announced the end of this index freeze.

In the same article, Défi’s Bernard Creffay thigh lighted the exceptional situation last year, saying, “The index was raised by more than 10%, but not today. The Flemish and Walloon provinces that approved a similar measure before us have confirmed that they will not extend this me asure because such exceptional circumstances no longer exist”.

Even the French-speaking Greens’party Ecolo, which endorsed the measure last October, has taken a cautious stance. In a statement published in Le Soir, Ecolo’s Minister for Climate Change, Environment, Energy and Participatory Democracy Alain Maron stressed the importance of a calm and constructive debate within the government on the conditions for extending this important measure.

The author: Michel DEURINCK

Michel Deurinck, born in Brussels in 1950, started his career in the Belgian civil service, dedicating over 30 years to public service. Upon retirement, he pursued his passion for journalism. Transitioning into this new field, he quickly gained recognition for his insightful reporting on politics and culture. Deurinck's balanced and thoughtful approach to journalism has made him a respected figure in Belgian media.

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