5. Commercial Property
If you want to develop your commercial activities a premise will always be needed. For this purpose, you can either rent or buy a commercial property, as mentioned below.
In addition, if you wish to contact a real estate agent to help you find the right property for your needs, we can suggest some real estate agents in Antwerp. Please consult our contact list.
Rental contracts are governed by the mandatory law on commercial lease (Handelshuurwet).
The landlord (lessor) must expressly consent to the commercial purpose of the rent. By signing a commercial lease the tenant (lessee) benefits from a form of stability for his business activity, such as (but not limited to):
- A lease lasting at least 9 years;
- The right to renew the lease upon expiry;
- The right to change the interior of the building to suit the needs of the business.
Within four months, the lessor must present the original contract, along with a copy thereof, to the “lease registration fees authority” (Registratiekantoor) in the area where the leased property is located. Complying with this formality will make the lease official and the lessee better protected.
[Please find the contact details of the competent authority for properties located in the diamond quarter in Antwerp in the list of contacts.]
Every three years the lessee or lessor may ask the Court to review the rent, in which case the party requesting the review must demonstrate that a change in circumstances has caused the rental value of the premises to rise or fall by at least 15% compared with the amount stipulated in the contract.
Unlike a private rental agreement, the rent paid under a commercial rent agreement may only be indexed if the contract itself provides for this possibility, and any resulting indexation must comply with the legal requirements. Such legal requirements are for example that the indexation must be notified by registered mail, and the fact that indexation cannot be more than the applicable health index.
The lessee has the right to terminate the contract every three years by sending the lessor a letter by registered mail or by notification served by a bailiff, giving six months’ prior notice.
Termination is also possible without any prior warning if an authenticated mutual agreement is drawn up or a statement to this effect is made to the Court. In case a mutual agreement is made to end the contract, it is necessary to present it to the Court for ratification.
The lessor can also terminate the contract every 3 years. Such termination needs to be notified to the lessee by registered mail, or by notification served by a bailiff, at least one year in advance. Moreover, the lessor can only terminate the agreement when the lessor (or one of his close relatives) wishes to start his own business in the rented property.
1 The Belgian Consumer Price Index (commonly referred to as the Index) is a list of prices of goods and services, kept by the Belgian Federal Government Service Economy. The Index is updated on a monthly basis, and reflects the evolution in the cost of living. The Belgian system tracks two indices: the general Consumer Price Index and the Health Index. The latter uses the same basket of goods/products as the former, with the exception of products, which could be detrimental to health, such as cigarettes and petrol.
Apart from renting a property, you can choose to purchase your own property. In such case, you will have to take into consideration the notary fees that will be added to the price of the property as well as the registration fee of 10% (if the property is located in Antwerp). More information on the registration fees can be found on the website of the Flemish Government.
If you wish to contact a real estate agent to help you in your quest to find the right property for your needs, we can suggest some real estate agents in Antwerp, as mentioned in the list of contacts.