HOUSE RENTAL – PLACE DESCRIPTION – 2023-05-23
At the end of the lease, the tenant of your house or apartment is unwilling or unable to cooperate with the preparation of an outgoing place plan. As a landlord, what can you do about it?
Place description at departure
Obligation in the three regions. In the lease regulations of the three regions, the tenant is required to cooperate with a place description upon exit at the end of the lease.
For return of keys. Such a site plan must be prepared at the latest when the keys to the rental property are returned and accepted.
Needed to determine rental damage. As you know, that outgoing site description is important to properly establish and prove any rental damage to the leased property. By comparing the place description at the start of the lease and the one at the end of the lease, the damage caused by the tenant can be determined. You can then try to reach an agreement on compensation for those damages.
Tenant must be present. To be valid, the site description must be prepared “adversarially,” that is, the tenant must also be present and sign for agreement.
What if the tenant does not cooperate?
Cumbersome procedure provided. If your tenant refuses to make an outgoing site plan, you can basically go to the justice of the peace for the appointment of an expert. You must initiate those proceedings within one month of evicting the leased property. The tour in the presence of a court expert would then be considered “adversarial,” even if the tenant did not show up at it.
Note! However, such a procedure takes time during which you cannot yet re-let the property to third parties. You also have to advance the cost of the expert where you are not sure you can recover that from your tenant.
Most judges adopt a flexible attitude! Fortunately, in recent years, most judges have taken a lenient approach when you, as the landlord, can prove that the tenant refuses to cooperate with the site plan.
Affirmed in recent ruling. The Justice of the Peace of Merksem recently had to rule on rent damages by an evicted tenant, who was in prison (vred. Merksem, 10.05.2022) . Because the tenant was stuck, it was impossible for him to be present for a tour at the end of the lease and believed that the one-sided site plan was completely worthless. However, the justice of the peace ruled that this was not the case, since the tenant could have appointed someone to attend the tour in his place.
Determinations by judicial officer. The landlord in this case also relied on a photo file with determinations by a bailiff in addition to the one-sided site description. The damages were therefore found to be sufficiently proven by the justice of the peace.
Tip. What can also be accepted is the determination of an outside expert already appointed in the lease through a so-called binding third-party decision. For that, you then include a specific clause in the lease.
Asking the court to appoint an expert is an expensive and cumbersome procedure. Fortunately, alternatives are also accepted. A one-sided placeholder description combined with a judicial officer’s determination may still have value, a judge recently ruled. Indeed, the tenant himself had failed to mandate someone to attend the tour in his place.
© Lefebvre Sarrut Belgium SA
www.tipsenadvies.be – Real Estate Tips & Advice – Year 27 – Number 18 – 23.5.2023