A court case in Willebroek ruled in favour of a tenant who had been asked higher rent by his landlord in a dispute over keeping a pet in the flat, Juristenkrant a law journal reports.
The court gave the ruling on a clause contained in a tenancy agreement, considered running contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
The rent contract in question did not stipulate any ban on companion animals as such. However, it did contain the provision for a 25% rent increase should a tenant have any four-legged friends without a prior written agreement.
As the tenants refused to pay the surcharge, the matter ended up before the court.
According to the magistrate, the clause is not consistent with article 8.1 of the ECHR, which guarantees the right to respect for private and family life.
“A total ban on keeping a companion animal, regardless of its possible harmful nature, is disproportional in relation to the owner’s objective, in this context the maintenance in good repair of a renovated flat for rent,” the arbitrator concluded.
Consequently, there is no reason either to apply the contractual sanction of a rent increase or to dissolve the contract if the tenant refuses to pay the surcharge.
Putting it another way, as long as animals are not causing any inconvenience, the landlord cannot terminate the agreement to the detriment of the tenant.