Public housing tenants in City of Brussels can now also claim lower rent

Public housing tenants in City of Brussels can now also claim lower rent
Credit: Ugo Realfonzo / The Brussels Times

Following the example of Saint-Gilles, Ixelles and Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, tenants living in so-called "public housing" in the City of Brussels can also claim lower rent. Public housing is offered to house people with low incomes while they are on the waiting list for social housing.

The City of Brussels has started socialising the rents of municipal public housing, meaning some 1,290 tenants living in this form of accommodation will be able to request that their rent is adapted to their income. Under this measure, the rent does not exceed 22% of the income of tenants.

"This important step will allow us to provide a quick and effective response to almost 1,300 tenant families in the City waiting for social housing," Nawal Ben Hamou, State Secretary for Housing, said following the announcement. "This will give the necessary extra oxygen to families severely affected by the consequences of the energy crisis."

She added that negotiations are underway to roll this out to as many Brussels municipalities as possible, as part of the region's efforts to keep Brussels rents affordable for the entire population.

Who can claim lower rent?

The search for housing in Brussels has become extremely difficult for families with modest incomes, especially as rent prices have skyrocketed, leaving many families struggling to pay their rent, to the detriment of their health or their children's education.

To be eligible, tenants must live in housing owned by the Land Registry or Public Social Services Centres (CPAS), be registered on the waiting list for social housing and meet the income conditions for social housing. People who meet these requirements will be contacted by the relevant departments.

"The measure we are proposing to our tenants and prospective tenants reduces the rent for some families to between €300 and 400 per month, depending on their income. This is a powerful measure for the prevention of poverty in Brussels," said Khalid Zian, President of the CPAS of the City of Brussels.

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However, the process of entering both municipal and social housing in Brussels remains complicated.

For social housing, people first need to register as a prospective tenant with a public real estate company (OVMs), which is followed by various selection rounds based on priority rules and individual circumstances.

While waiting for social housing, some people are able to rent municipal housing, whom this latest measure applies to. But, for this form of housing too, the prospective tenant must meet a number of criteria, such as proof of good behaviour and morals, and a large gap between their income and the rent that is being charged.

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