Here are 10 practical tips for moving out of your apartment in Belgium, from terminating your lease to forwarding your post.
If the time has come to leave Belgium, or you are simply moving out of one apartment and into a new Belgian home, there are things you can do to make the exit as easy as possible. Follow this 10-step guide and moving out of your apartment in Belgium should go relatively smoothly.
1. Give notice to your landlord
This is very important. You must give three months’ notice in writing to terminate your lease. If you fail to give notice on time, your landlord can automatically renew your contract which will leave you trapped in a home you do not want to live in. The penalties for breaking your contract can be quite stiff: three months’ rent if you break the contract in the first year; two months’ if you do so in the second year and one month if you break your contract in the third year.
2. Give notice to utility companies
You must notify relevant utility companies to obtain and pay your final bill. In most cases, this can be done in writing or by visiting a local branch in person. For electricity and gas, you will need to arrange for a final meter reading, while you will also need to contact providers of water, telephone, Internet and television to arrange for final bills and close the accounts. You should also notify other important people including schools, doctors and banks or your change of address and circumstances.
3. Return your identity card
Expats in Belgium are issued identity cards by the commune, and these cards must be returned before you leave the country. If you cannot return the cards personally, you may do so via post, as long as the commune is aware of your departure at least one day prior to your leaving.
4. Deregister your vehicle
If you are planning to leave the country with a car bearing Belgium plates, you must re-register the vehicle in your new home country as soon as possible. The Belgian plates should then be returned to the Direction des Immatriculations des Véhicules/Dienst voor Inschrijving van de Voertuigen (DIV). In addition you must remember to cancel your vehicle registration.
5. Redirect your mail
Your post can be forwarded within the country or to an address outside of Belgium for up to four months. There is a fee for the service and an extension is possible at an additional cost. To register for the service, simply fill in a form at your local post office. Note to the wise; it’s best to do so a few weeks prior to your departure.
6. Ensure pets vaccinations are up to date
If you are leaving Belgium and travelling within mainland Europe, your pets will be permitted to travel freely with you. But if your destination is overseas – to the United Kingdom, for example, you will need to ensure that any pets have the necessary vaccinations and vets certificates or passports to cross the English Channel. In certain circumstances, it may be a requirement for your pet to be put in quarantine for a period of time.
7. Cancel all subscriptions
We all subscribe to newspapers, magazines or even sports clubs or gymnasiums at one time or another. When leaving an apartment, it may well be that you no longer need those subscriptions or will be moving too far to utilise them any longer. So it is worth making a list of the things you subscribe to and cancel all of them before moving properties.
8. Leave the property in good order
You are expected to leave the property in the same condition as when you moved in. So, make sure any repairs are done before the landlord inspection. Your landlord will use your deposit to cover any repairs needed, and to cover any remaining common charges. Annoyingly, because common charges are determined at the end of the year, you will usually have to wait until then to get your deposit back.
9. Get your rental deposit back
You are likely to have paid a security deposit for the property you rented. Whether you paid your landlord up to two months’ rent on signing the lease or paid the deposit over time via bank transfer, you will want to arrange to get the money back. Most landlords will either make a bank transfer or make a payment directly with you.
10. Ensure all of your belongings are with you
It might sound more at home at the end of a flight or train journey, but you really should ensure that all of your belongings have been collected before handing the keys back to the landlord. Once you have exited the property and handed over the keys, you may find it difficult to get anything back that you had left behind.