Housing Committee approves winter moratorium on evictions

Housing Committee approves winter moratorium on evictions
Photo from the office of Nawal Ben Hamou.

Brussels Parliament’s Housing Committee on Thursday approved a draft ordinance reviewing the eviction procedure and introducing a winter moratorium on evictions.

The bill, introduced by the Secretary of State for Housing, Nawal Ben Hamou (Parti Socialiste), was approved by 12 votes to three, with the Mouvement Réformateur (MR) and Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (N-VA) voting against it.

Many members of the committee were concerned, however, about the resources made available to the public service social centres, CPAS, whose activity should be boosted by the ordinance.

They were not all reassured by the explanations of the Secretary of State, announcing on Thursday that she had provided funding for the CPAS in the Housing Emergency Plan budget.

The draft ordinance provides for four key measures: an adapted eviction procedure; a generalised winter moratorium on evictions from public and private housing in the Region; the creation of a fund to cover rent arrears; and the introduction of eviction monitoring.

The PTB (Parti du Travail de Belgique) was resolutely in favour of the winter moratorium, which it saw as a significant social advance. The far-left party had more reservations about access to the Solidarity Fund for landlords faced with insolvent tenants during the moratorium. It wants access to be reserved for small landlords.

Criticisms voiced by the MR and N-VA mainly concerned what they saw as the infringement of the right to property and the imbalance between the interests of tenants and landlords, denounced in the mechanism by the Council of State.

For the N-VA, the new scheme risks having a boomerang effect. By depriving landlords of the management of their property, it could result in fewer landlords wanting to put properties up for rent. This, in turn, would increase the pressure on the housing market, according to the far-right party.

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