From 2024 onwards, people with a low income but a lot of money in their savings account could no longer qualify for social housing in Flanders.
Those looking to rent affordable housing in the region will have to disclose their savings accounts to social housing companies before they will be considered eligible, according to reports from Het Laatste Nieuws.
"Social housing must reach the people who really need it," Flemish Housing Minister Matthias Diependaele said in a statement. The concrete proposal for a "means test" by Diependaele was already included in the coalition agreement, but last Friday, the Flemish government approved it.
"Anyone who wants to rent social housing will have to disclose their savings starting in 2024. Those with an annual income in their savings account should be able to rent or buy perfectly well on the private housing market."
Savings and investments
At the moment, social housing companies can only check a candidate tenant's income to determine whether they can be added to the waiting list.
However, in two years' time, those registering to be on the waiting list will have to declare what is in their current and savings accounts (excluding those of their children), as well as in investment and foreign accounts.
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The new ordinance states that the total amount in these accounts cannot exceed the annual income limit to be entitled to social housing, which depends on their situation (single person/parent, number of children, etc).
This ranges from €25,850 for a single person without children to €40,940 for a couple or a single person with one child, an amount that increases by approximately €2,000 per additional child in the family. A person who saved this amount of money will no longer be entitled to social housing.
Only for new tenants
The regulation will only apply to those who are not already renting social housing. For the time being, the check is also a one-off and will take place at the time of allocation, not when the contract is renewed.
However, once the housing unit is allocated, tenants will also have to submit bank statements to prove that their assets do not exceed their income limit or that money is being systematically transferred between accounts.
"If it then turns out that the earlier statement is not consistent with the statements or if there is a suspicion of fraud or accounts that have not been declared, the housing association can carry out a more thorough investigation or even go to court," Diependaele said.