Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Getting Started

Click here for photos of Kirk's temporary apartment

Click here for photos In and around Brussels

Click here for photos of OUR APARTMENT - FOUND!

The Belgian rental process is very interesting. Apparently, if you want to rent a furnished apartment, there are no restrictions on the timing of your lease - you can rent for 10 months or 10 years. However, if you want to rent an unfurnished apartment, you must either sign a binding three year lease, or a non-binding NINE year lease! Who rents a place for nine years?! The caveat to that is that if you break a nine year lease in the first three years, you owe a penalty of 3 months rent if you break the lease in the first year, two months rent in the second year, and 1 months rent in the third year. Good thing our landlords are Greek and don't buy into this commitment. So no binding penalty with our place given 18 months - lucky us!

The second interesting thing that I've learned so far is about the rental deposit. Whereas we are accustomed to giving our landlord an upfront payment of one month's rent to let the landlord hold for the duration of the lease, that is not done in Belgium. Instead, the deposit is two or three months rent, but you don' t give it to the landlord. You can either have a bank provide a deposit guarantee for the amount needed (which of course incurs a setup fee and a maintenance charge) or you can deposit the amount needed into what is essentially a trust account. Neither you nor the landlord can access these funds without permission from the other party, but at least you earn interest on it, so that should be good for a few extra bucks, right?

Anyway, I'm sure there will be more interesting tales to be told along the way. --- Kirk