Brussels considers giving tenants first option to buy their rental property

Brussels considers giving tenants first option to buy their rental property
A 'for sale' and a 'for rent' sign in Brussels. Credit: Belga/Siska Gremmelprez

If a rental property goes up for sale, the tenants should be given priority to purchase it said Brussels State Secretary for Housing Nawal Ben Hamou before the start of a meeting between regional ministers on Thursday.

This preferential right is part of the Emergency Housing Plan adopted by the Brussels Government in January 2021, which aims to better protect tenants. When a property is sold, tenants risk having their lease terminated for renovations or because the new owner wants to live there.

Now, Ben Hamou proposed that tenants are given priority to buy the property when it is sold. They should be allowed two months to consider before the property is listed on the private market.

However, it remains uncertain whether the proposal will be approved at the Council of Ministers on Thursday, as the Francophone centrist DéFi party reportedly opposes it, L'Echo reports.

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Furthermore, the real-estate sector also does not favour Ben Hamou's proposal. The professional federations CIB Vlaanderen and Federia even called it "one of the worst ideas in years" in a press release published on Wednesday.

The federations argue that it will significantly increase the lead time for sales, which at present already averages six months. "It will reduce the dynamics of the real estate market, which will make property acquisition more difficult," they insist and add that potential buyers will be cut out the Brussels housing market and owners will be less inclined to invest.

Yet some of the ire from estate agents could be down to them being left out of negotiations involved in property sales. The proposal would put the seller in direct contact with the buyer – their tenant who they already have a relationship with – thereby cutting out the agent in the middle.


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