“A house-sharing job seeker may receive the same benefits as a single person,” pleads a lawyer in the magazine De Juristenkrant, following a recent Labour Court case in Brussels. Chris Sebrechts, legal adviser at the National Employment Office (Onem), reckons this opinion is somewhat rushed, as criteria for determining what house-sharing entails are too vague.
High rents and house prices in some Belgian cities mean more and more people look for alternative housing options. House-sharing is renting or buying a home with others in order to split some costs. “Legislation is not in place for this type of housing and problems are arising,” highlights Sita Vanbinst in the latest edition of Juristenkrant. “Onem (unemployment benefits administration) reckons these people are not single but automatically part of a household with no dependents, radically changing conditions for unemployment benefits. The Brussels Labour Court admitted a few months ago that an unemployed man in Brussels should be registered as single though he was house-sharing. The court said that house-mates are not a household,” explains the magazine.
“We cannot assume that every house-mate is single. There are numerous situations and each case must be looked at individually, as well as the repercussions on unemployment benefits,” says Chris Sebrechts. He thinks jurisprudence may emerge after several court rulings. “Drawing conclusions from just one case to say all house-sharers are single seems a bit rash.”