Rent increase under new landlord
We signed a rental contract in 2015. The rent has never been indexed, and we didn't pay any communal charges. The landlords have now sold the apartment and the new owner wants to index the rent and impose communal charges. As a result, the rent/charges are increasing by 35% with one week's notice before the first payment is due to the new owner. The timing seems unreasonable. Is there a minimum notice period a landlord has to adhere to when increasing rent? Grateful for any tips of where to find info on this.
The rules now vary by Region but there remain limitations on indexing. The best thing would be to make an appointment to see a notaire/notaris and take both the contract and the letter from the new landlord with you. Advice from notaires is free, they only charge if they have to undertake written work on your behalf (and even then the tariff is fixed).
I presume that the contract is in French or Dutch (contracts in English aren't valid) and that, and the Region you live in, might influence your choice of a notaire or notaris.
The new owner is perfectly entitled to do the indexation, however he can only request arrears payment up to three months before.
If for instance your rent goes from 500 to 700 then he can only ask you the extra 200 for the last three months. And of course your new rent will be 700 going forward.
The indexation should normally be done once a year at the anniversary of the starting date (in 2015), but it can be done later during the year but of course claiming any rent increase prior to the three months notice is not allowed.
You can google "Indexation Loyer Belgique" and fill some simple details like starting amount, starting month and year, region and then you'll find out if the calculations are correct.
Let's say that in the last decade the indexation was quite low due to the inflation rate also quite low, some good landlords might have waived it for the sake of good relations even if they were entitled but in the last two years the increase was significant and made quite a difference.
Also as a tenant you are perfectly entitled to receive all the official invoices related to communal charges. You can pay a monthly provision but at the end of the fiscal year the landlord is obliged by law to send you all the documents and review if you still have to pay or use the remaining sum for the following year.
There is no minimum notice period for the indexation increase. Try and think of all the money you have saved over the years when the indexation was not applied, it must amount to several hundreds by now.
However, do make sure you have received the PEB certificate. Since 1 October there is a new law in force (initially for a year) and the landlord can't index the rent if they have not provided the tenant with a valid PEB. Also, the PEB value may limit the amount of the indexation. A very low PEB value means no indexation at all; a mid-value means the landlord can only ask for 50 % of the actual indexation.
The landlord can only index the rent if the bail (lease) is registered and if he has a PEB certificate (of which he has to give you a copy).
He can apply indexation at 100% if the PEB rating is anything from A to D. If it's an E, he can only apply 50% of the indexed amount. Below E, indexation is not allowed.
An increase of 35% sounds excessive.