More than 3,000 people have come out in support of a Belgian family fighting to be allowed to continue living in their self-built, 16-square-metre home in Brussels.
After spending around €30,000 and years building it, Maxime Bonaert and Sabine Daibes propped up their so-called Tiny House in a residential street in the leafy municipality of Woluwe-Saint-Lambert.
But the owners of the tiny wooden home, who recently welcomed a baby, have now been told they must tear down the house and leave by September, after municipal authorities told them that living in such a small space clashed with current housing regulations in Brussels.
“Woluwe-Saint-Lambert (…) is now asking us to leave their territory, due to the lack of a legal framework regarding tiny homes,” the couple wrote in a petition launched to gather public support for their fight.
“Due to the inherent characteristics of a tiny house, it does not conform to the ruling health norms regarding the surface size.”
Daibes and Bonaert embarked in the construction of their Tiny House in the fall of 2018, posting regular updates on their progress to their thousands of followers on their Facebook page.
In the space of two weeks, their petition has already gathered over 3,300 signatures and their plight has earned them widespread media coverage.
The couple said they were drawn to the concept of Tiny Houses, an initiative which advocates living simply in unusually small and often austere houses, because of the high living and real estate costs in the Belgian capital and to adopt a more sustainable way of life.
“There are several reasons why we decided to live in a tiny house: we want to adopt a way of life that’s more respectful to the environment, stay close to our family and friends, all while living within our means,” they wrote. “We live here harmoniously with our 9-month-old son, and wish to have the possibility to request a building permit to the commune, so we can continue to reside here.”
In their petition, the couple said that high-real estate prices were one of the main reasons young couples fled the Belgian capital for the suburbs or smaller towns in the Walloon and Flemish regions, and said they would seek to bring their case to regional urbanism secretary, Pascal Smet.