Deregistering a former tenant from the population register

It regularly happens that although a tenant has left the rental property, he or she still remains registered at that address. In case the new tenants have problems with their registration, the landlord will have to take steps to have the previous tenant removed from the population register.

In this article, we will discuss deregistering a tenant who is a physical person.

A concrete case

Tenant Paul believes there is something lacking in the quality of his rental property. He has not paid rent in recent months and is leaving the property before the end of the notice period. The landlord, Jason, asks to get together to prepare a place description upon exit. According to him, there is a lot of damage. Paul disputes this and to avoid conflict with Jason, he does not respond to Jason’s request to meet for arrangements end rent.

Paul moves in with a friend who lives a few blocks away. He does not report his move at the municipality’s population department and still remains registered at the address of the property he left.

Paul had set a rent deposit equal to three months’ rent. He asks Jason’s agreement for the release of his rent deposit. Jason refuses. Paul threatened to return to the rental house for the remainder of the notice period.

Jason is panicked, because should Paul ask a locksmith to break the lock and he in turn asks the police for permission to do so, this will presumably be allowed, since Paul still “lives” at that address.

The new tenants, who have since moved into the property, will then naturally turn against Jason. After all, if the lock is broken, for them it is about burglary.

Analysis of our legal service

End of the lease The end of the lease, whether in response to a termination, or in the context of a court dissolution, must be concretized by the return of the property and the surrender of the keys.

As a landlord, you may not empty the property yourself and/or change the lock in case the tenant leaves without emptying the property and/or handing over the keys. If the tenant does not cooperate, you must first obtain a judgment and then enlist the services of a bailiff.

The regulations on the population register and foreigners’ register

Principle: mandatory registration where the resident has his or her primary residence

Each municipality must maintain population registers in which it registers persons admitted or authorized to maintain their principal residence in its territory. The duty to report to the municipality or city rests with the person who is going to live there. This follows from the reading together of Article 1 of the Law of July 19, 1991 on population registers, identity cards, alien cards and residence documents and Article 7 of the Royal Decree (RD) of July 16, 1992 on population registers and alien registers. Thus, the duty to register with the municipality in the population registers rests with the tenant.

The declaration must be made within eight business days after the new home is effectively moved into. Within 15 working days of the report, the local government conducts an investigation into the actual whereabouts. Specifically, the neighborhood agent will check actual occupancy: is the home the place where the person goes after work? Is it about the habitual residence of the person and his family? Sometimes more in-depth research is carried out, checking, for example, energy consumption, telephone and Internet connections, etc.

Upon completion of this examination and within one month from the date of declaration, the municipal authorities shall notify the municipality of the previous place of residence either that the person in question has been registered in the registers or that his application for registration has been rejected.

Problem: tenant has left, but remains registered

What happens if a tenant leaves without declaring his new principal residence in the same or in another municipality or city, leaving him registered at his old address?

In accordance with article 8 of the aforementioned RD, the municipal authorities track down persons who do not declare the change of their main residence (in a timely manner) in their (new) municipality or city, or have even moved abroad.

If it proves impossible to locate the new residence of a citizen, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen shall order the removal from office on the basis of a report of the investigation of the neighborhood police officer, in which he finds that it is impossible to determine the new principal residence of the person concerned. The removal from office is automatically ordered by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen when it is determined, based on the report of the investigation of the neighborhood police officer, that the detected person has been untraceable for at least six months.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen shall automatically dispose of a citizen on the date of the Board’s decision.

Accelerated procedure

In certain cases, however, an ex officio removal can be made more quickly, without waiting for the six-month deadline, when it appears that individuals can no longer be found at their address. The submission of an eviction report to the municipality can be very useful: after all, then the evicted persons can no longer be found there. This is also true if other residents have established their primary residence in the property, while these new residents are not related to the previous residents.


When a tenant leaves, the landlord would do well to remind him of his obligation to register in the population registers at his new place of residence and of the duty to declare within eight working days. The landlord, after the tenant’s departure, can check with the municipality itself whether the former tenant has done the necessary. If not, he himself can initiate the procedure of removal and provide the concrete elements for this purpose to the neighborhood agent, the population service or the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. In a subsequent article, we will discuss further how to deregister a tenant who is a legal entity.


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