When you rent a house or flat, you may never feel that it is your property.
So, should you take out insurance? And what exactly should be insured? The place where you live must also be considered.
We have figured out the 'what, why & where' for you.
What do you need to insure ?
The value depends on the situation:
(a) Most insurers use the same valuation scheme for the building as for the owner. The tenant insures the actual value of the house or flat he rents. This is done using a valuation grid based on the number of rooms in the house and the finishing level. Efficient and simple. And it can also be used for furniture.
(b) For a flat, for example, with several tenants, insurers use a simplified version. To avoid underinsurance, they insure an amount corresponding to about 20 times the annual rent (costs included).
There is also a fire insurance that the owner can take out ‘with waiver of recourse’ against the tenant. This means that the landlord's fire insurance company will not pursue the tenant. It costs more for the owner, but this cost is then passed on in the rent. This does not mean that the tenant is completely safe. Such a fire insurance does not fully replace that of the tenant.
So why should the tenant take out insurance, if the property is already insured by the owner? Simple, the landlord does not insure the same thing as the tenant. If both take out fire insurance, there is not necessarily double coverage:
- The owner covers his property against all risks not covered by articles 1732, 1733 and 1735 of the Civil Code*.
- Tenants mainly take out liability insurance. After all, the tenant remains liable towards third parties, for example the neighbours. And he also remains protected, for example, if the owner is underinsured.
Why do you need to insure yourself?
First, the contractual liability of the tenant is regulated by law, see articles 1732, 1733 and 1735 of the Civil Code*.
In short, the tenant is liable for any damage to the property he is renting. Unless he can prove that he was not at fault. But if the cause - for example in case of a fire - is not known, he remains liable.
It is therefore in the tenant's interest to take out insurance, even if the owner is already insured. Any subtenants must therefore also be insured, just like the tenant.
Each region in Belgium has its own rules on tenancy agreements. Here are a few important differences.
- a) Brussels Capital Region:
- Here, mainly the Housing Act, active since 1 January 2018, applies.
- The new rules apply to approximately 60% of Brussels residents, who are considered tenants.
- They apply to all housing contracts, i.e. all contracts relating to housing.
- They concern primary residences, but also secondary residences and student accommodation, except for tourist accommodation. Airbnb, for example, falls under a different legislation.
- Most provisions are directly applicable to current contracts. With some important exceptions, such as the anti-discrimination provisions or the mandatory pre-contractual information applicable to leases concluded (or renewed) after 1 January 2018.
- b) Flanders:
- Most tenants are contractually obliged to take out fire insurance.
- Although some leases contain a 'waiver of recourse' clause, it is best to take out your own fire insurance. Your landlord's policy will not cover you if you cause damage to your neighbours or if your own personal belongings go up in smoke.
- The Flemish decree was adopted on 24 October 2018, including rules for student rental. The new rules came into force on 1 January 2019, but only apply to new contracts.
- c) Wallonia:
- Liability insurance for rentals is now mandatory. This ensures that the rented property is properly repaired if the tenant is responsible for the damage.
- The new provisions relating to the residential lease became active on 1 September 2018. Some important changes are two types of tenancy agreements, namely the roommate tenancy agreement and student tenancy agreement. Also, there are some novelties for short-term rental agreements (maximum 3 years).
Important: Value to be insured.
The owner insures the property at replacement value, i.e. the reinstatement value, including architect's fees. The purpose is that, in case of total loss, the insurer will advance the funds needed to enable the insured to rebuild the property as it was before the loss.
The tenant insures the 'actual value'. That is reconstruction value minus economic depreciation. The economic depreciation is the reduction in value that is determined on the basis of:
- The age of the property.
- The degree of wear and tear.
- The frequency and quality of maintenance.
According to the law, the tenant must return the rented property in the condition in which he received it. The fire insurance taken out by the tenant is therefore intended to compensate the landlord for any damage to the rented property caused by his fault.
In the event of a claim, there is in fact a presumption of fault on the part of the tenant. This presumption of liability takes effect from the date of commencement of the lease. There can be a claim without fault on the part of the tenant. Nevertheless, the tenant remains responsible. Except in the case of force majeure.
*Article 1732 of the Civil Code states that: 'The occupant is liable for damages or losses that occur during his stay, unless he can prove that it occurred through no fault of his own.'
Article 1733: 'The occupant is liable for fire, unless he can prove that it occurred through no fault of his own.'
Section 1735: 'The tenant is liable to the owner for damage caused by his subtenants and by persons who live with him with his consent.'
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