Types of accommodation
You can choose between various types of accommodation depending on your needs and wishes. The most common options are:
- House: living room, kitchen, bathroom and several bedrooms. With or without a garden. Generally unfurnished.
- Apartment or flat: living room, kitchen, bathroom with one or more bedrooms. In a larger building with other apartments/flats. With or without a terrace/balcony, very rarely with a garden. Generally unfurnished.
- Duplex or studio: small living room with integrated bedroom and private kitchenette and/or bathroom.
Before actually moving to Belgium, you can book appointments with house or apartment owners to check the accommodation soon after your arrival.
It is vital to see the actual state of the accommodation before committing to a rental agreement. If possible, check different accommodation options in order to compare the price-quality ratio.
Also, make sure you check the accommodation’s proximity to the University of Antwerp and the commuting times in the morning and the evening.
Rental prices for flats or apartments can run to more than €900 per month. Houses in good condition in Antwerp are often more expensive than apartments.
Please be aware that additional costs like water, gas, internet, electricity and building maintenance are generally not included in the rental price.
If you rent accommodation with furniture (not very common for long-term renting), make sure you check what furnishings are included and whether you need to buy your own towels, bed linen (sheets, pillow, pillow case and blankets) and kitchen utensils. Furnishings that are included in the accommodation will also be listed in the rental contract as they have to stay there after your departure. If the owners find that something is missing, they will deduct the costs from your deposit.
When visiting the accommodation, pay attention to the building and the state of the accommodation. Make sure you ask about additional costs on top of the rental price. Check when the accommodation is available and if you can officially register yourself at the address. If you would like to have a pet, it is also best to discuss this beforehand. If the owner needs proof of your employment at the university, please contact your HR Officer.
Real estate websites
The following websites advertise houses and apartments for rent under contracts of between 1 and 9 years:
It is also a good idea to get in touch with your faculty and ask if they have direct contact with any accommodation owners willing to rent for a certain time period or if they know of any apartments that will become available. Seeing as researchers come and go, it might be possible to take over a departing researcher’s rental agreement.
Co-housing through samenhuizen.be is also possible in Belgium, but make sure the owner of the accommodation agrees to it.
Once you have found an apartment or house to rent, you must sign a rental agreement with the landlord. The rental agreement is an important document that you should read through carefully before signing. Normally the rental agreement will be drawn up in Dutch as this is a legal obligation, but do not sign it unless you understand everything. You can also ask for an English translation, but it is the Dutch version that will need to be signed.
The following points are important when signing a rental agreement:
- Duration of the agreement: Belgium has a system of long-term rental contracts lasting either 1 year or 3-9 years. If you do not terminate your contract legally, it may be renewed automatically. Usually, notice needs to be given by registered letter three months before the end date of the contract. Make sure you terminate your contract on time and in the format agreed upon in the rental agreement.
- The monthly rent: The rental amount and due date for payment need to be mentioned in the rental agreement. The rent cannot be changed by the landlord. They can only index it once a year, and the increase is based on the official index.
- Additional monthly charges: You might need to pay some fees for the common areas of the building such as the hallway, elevator, garden or other joint costs that may occur in the future. These costs need to be mentioned in the rental agreement. Sometimes you will also have to pay a provision for gas, water and/or electricity.
- Description of the property (“plaatsbeschrijving”): the rental contract must include a detailed description of the property. This needs to be completed before or within the first month that you move in. The description can either be prepared by the parties themselves or by an expert (payable service). At the end of the rental period this description will be reviewed to check if everything is still in the same condition as you found it. The description needs to be dated and signed by all parties.
Registration of the rental agreement
Both the rental agreement and the description of the property need to be legally registered. This is taken care of by the landlord. If needed, the tenant can also register the rental agreement (but there is no legal obligation to do this).
The registration can be done:
- at the local tax administration office. The Antwerp office is located at Italiëlei 4 box 3, 2000 Antwerp (opening hours are from 8 a.m. to 12 noon or by appointment: email@example.com)
- or on the website MyRent. More information can be found in Dutch on this website.
If you want to rent a house or apartment, you have to pay a security deposit after signing the rental agreement. When you move out, provided you leave the property in good condition, this deposit will be released back to you.
For rental agreements concluded before 1 January 2019, the rental deposit can be maximum two months' rent. If the tenant wants to pay the deposit in instalments, the deposit is three months' rent. For rental agreements concluded after 1 January 2019, the landlord can request a deposit of maximum three months’ rent. The most common way is to pay the total amount of the deposit into a blocked savings account in your name. The money will only be released after the bank has received a signature from the landlord.
Never pay the security deposit in cash or by direct payment into the landlord’s account.