The relationship between landlord and tenant often raises questions: what is allowed, what isn’t?

Recently the Flemish government approved a preliminary draft of the new Flemish Rental Decree. Undoubtedly a few more changes will come, but the intention is that the new legislation will apply starting September 1st 2018.

One of the most obvious changes concerns the information a landlord may ask a candidate tenant.  Until now, the law did not explicitly address this issue.

In the interest of the landlord …

The new legislation is being created mainly to protect the landlord.  Landlords are of course very interested in ensuring that their potential tenant is in fact in a position to pay (and continue paying) his rent. Under the new legislation, the landlord will be allowed to ask the potential tenant to not only share his personal identity information and address, but to also provide proof of  monthly income. Proof of income can include copies of paystubs, an overview of retirement funds etc.

But also in the interest of the tenant…

Of course the legislature has not lost sight of the potential tenants’ rights.

The right to privacy has be respected. As such, the potential tenant may mark out certain information prior to providing documents to the landlord.  For example, the name and address of the place of employment.  After all, this information is irrelevant to the landlord.

Needless to say, the potential tenant also may not be discriminated against based on gender, age, nationality, etc…

The landlord also is not allowed to ask questions regarding a potential tenant’s health. Asking for proof of good conduct is out of the question as well.

In conclusion

The new Flemish Rental Decree has the intention to provide a balance between both parties’ rights.

But, in the event the paystubs (or other documents provided) indicate that a would-be-tenant would not be able to meet his rental obligation, the landlord may refuse tenancy. But this information may never be shared with third parties!