Belgium in Brief: Is Brussels selling out to Airbnb?

Belgium in Brief: Is Brussels selling out to Airbnb?
Credit: Belga

When it comes to renting in Brussels, you can expect a certain premium on the price of living in the capital. We may lack the cultural cool of other European cities and you don't come here for the weather but if location is everything, being at the centre of European affairs and generally very well connected is a price many believe is worth paying.

Yet unlike other cities (that might just be consistently costly), anyone renting here will know how demand for rooms and apartments swells and subsides considerably at different points in the year. Driven largely by the arrival of students and trainees for the EU institutions, the rental market becomes hugely inflated, highlighting the lack of affordable accommodation.

But rather than taking action on this front, the latest decision by the Brussels Government is likely to exacerbate the situation. Proposed changes will loosen regulations on short-term leases, essentially opening up the rental market to the likes of Airbnb. Not only does this profit-driven model cater to tourists with a greater budget than locals, but a higher number of short-term rental properties pushes up longer-term rental prices.

So far, the government has yet to introduce a cap on indexing rent, which has seen some landlords increase their rates unsustainably – particularly given that many salaries have not been raised in line with inflation.

Though not a tourist destination like some other European cities, Brussels has a lot to offer visitors and will inevitably reap the economic benefits. But keeping the city alive calls requires support for locals, now more than ever.

Belgium in Brief is a free daily roundup of the top stories to get you through your coffee break conversations. To receive it straight to your inbox every day, sign up below:

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