Landlords and tenants in Flanders have joined forces to ask the government for rent allowances as the economic standstill brought on by the coronavirus pandemic makes it harder to make ends meet.
The Flemish Tenant Platform (FTP) and the United Landlords union in Flanders are calling on the Flemish government for the allowances to take the form a monthly premium already granted to people who are waitlisted for social housing.
“The [unions] ask for a monthly rent allowance for tenants who meet the income and the property conditions for social housing but are renting on the private market,” FTP wrote in an online statement.
At the end of March, the Flemish government moved to allow social housing tenants to benefit from a rent reduction if they were going through financial difficulties due to the coronavirus crisis.
FTP said that one-third of tenants in the private market had too little income left to live decently, and that half of them saw over one-third of their income go towards rent.
“Those people have a structural affordability problem that is much more acute due to [the coronavirus crisis],” FTP coordinator Joy Verstichele told Het Nieuwsblad, adding that the measure would concern some 240,000 households.
While Flemish Housing Minister Matthias Diependale has previously called on landlords to be flexible, a move that Verstichele said was insufficient.
“The government should have taken its responsibility a long time ago, but it must do so now more than ever,” he said.