Accommodation in Antwerp
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Even with limited supply and constant demand, property prices in Antwerp are stable and generally cheaper than other major European cities. Accommodation tends to be small but comfortable, and while most houses have good heating, air-conditioning is uncommon and unnecessary.
It’s difficult to find condominium complexes with gyms or swimming pools, so expats tend to get outdoors in the neighbourhood parks, public pools, tennis clubs and gyms.
Most rental properties are unfurnished. Some properties are effectively empty and don’t even have built-in cupboards, while others have an equipped kitchen with a refrigerator and stove.
Types of property in Antwerp
Antwerp has a wide range of apartments, from old flats with high ceilings and chandeliers to modern glass and steel studios. Some of the most attractive and expensive apartments can be found in the city centre.
Expats who move to Antwerp with children tend to look for houses in the outlying suburbs. Neighbourhoods to the north of the city are especially popular for their larger houses, gardens and sense of community.
Finding property in Antwerp
Most expats in Antwerp choose to use estate agents who have databases of long- and short-term rentals to take out some of the effort involved in the process.
The classifieds sections of local newspapers are another good source of information. Many of these have listings online too.
Expats can also physically look for somewhere to live in areas that appeal to them by keeping an eye open for signs posted in front of properties.
Renting accommodation in Antwerp
The standard lease agreement in Belgium is for nine years, although there are also three-year options, so expats should carefully review the termination clause in their contracts.
Nine-year agreements are considered to be more flexible because the tenant is only obligated for the first three years and won’t have to pay any penalties for early cancellation after that. The lease terms can also be revised every three years.
If an expat wants to terminate their lease, they’ll have up to give three months’ written notice. The penalty for not doing this in the first year of the lease is the equivalent of three months’ rent. If the lease is terminated in the second year, the penalty is two months’ rent, and there’s a one-month penalty in the third year.
Expats should let their letting agent know how long they intend to stay in the country to ensure they get a property that suits their needs.
Belgian leases also contain a list of the tenant’s and owner’s responsibilities with regards to maintenance. Tenants are likely to be responsible for day-to-day upkeep like carpet cleaning and gardening. Given that tenants can be held liable for damages to the property, it’s important for expats to do a full inventory that’s signed by both parties. This should include the condition of the fixtures, walls, decorations and fittings, and whether anything is missing or needs repair.
Leases should include the names of the owner and the tenant, the property’s address, when the contract starts and ends, whether any parking spaces are included and the amount to be paid each month. Both parties have to sign the agreement. Expats will need to provide proof of income and pay a deposit of up to three months’ rent. They also might have to set up a standing order with their bank to pay the monthly rental as this is required by many landlords.
All leases have to be registered with the Ministry of Finance’s local Receiver of Registrations office. This is the responsibility of the owner. If it isn’t done, the tenant can terminate the contract without notice and should not be held responsible for any fines.
Utilities in Antwerp
Most rental contracts don’t include utilities such as electricity, internet and water. Expats who need to set up their own utility accounts will be able to choose between several gas and electricity providers.