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Flat and studio apartment rents soar in post-pandemic Brussels


Flat and studio apartment rents soar in post-pandemic Brussels

In Brussels rents for studio apartments have shot up 9.15 per cent over the last year according to industry figures. The steep rise is mainly due to growing demand in the post-pandemic era. Flat rents too have moved higher.

Rents in Brussels have risen once again and it’s studio apartments in particular that have become a lot more expensive. Rents rose by 9.15 per cent from an average of 732 euros last year to 799 euros a month in the first half of this year. For flats, the increase was 3.85 per cent, from an average of 1,116 to 1,159 euros a month.

Rents for terrace houses dipped slightly, by 1.22 per cent, going from 1,719 to 1,698 euros a month on average. "We have to be careful with the interpretation of that figure. In the case of rental houses, there is a seasonal effect at play: our data shows that prices of terraced houses always stabilise and even fall in the first half of the year. This drop is more than made up for by firm price rises in the autumn," the CIB (Confederation of Real Estate Professionals in Flanders) explains.

Post-corona effect

There are several possible explanations why studio apartment rents have risen so sharply says CIB spokesperson Kristophe Thijs. "During the pandemic, studios were not at all popular. Studio prices hardly rose. Now that we no longer have to stay indoors, people are willing to rent a studio once again. So it may be a kind of market correction."

Another reason is the growing demand for studios due to the general price rise on the Brussels rental market. "Brussels remains the most expensive region in Belgium. More people are likely to live on a smaller scale to keep the price down. On average a studio is still cheaper than a flat, but as a result, demand is rising, and so are prices."

A final possible explanation is the fact that many new studios have been created. "Often a big price rise can be explained by a lot of new construction. But we have no data on that," Thijs says.

Fluctuations within the region

In the Brussels region price increases vary from one municipality to another. For example, rents in Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe experienced a 9.82 per cent increase from an average of 1,161 to 1,275 euros a month. Prices in Sint-Gillis (+9.97 per cent), Koekelberg (+9 per cent), Laken (+8.46 per cent), Sint-Jans-Molenbeek (+8.23 per cent) and Vorst(+8.04 per cent) also rose sharply.

This is a big difference to Evere and Sint-Agatha-Berchem, where rents actually fell by 1.14 and 2.70 per cent respectively.

"The rise in rents could be due to a lot of new construction, but rising demand could also have an impact," says Brussels-based master builder Kristiaan Borret. "For instance, Vorst is a municipality many people have been moving to recently, because it is still relatively affordable."

More social housing

To keep Brussels affordable, Borret advocates more social housing. "In every major real estate project, it should be compulsory to provide 25 per cent social housing. This is already the case for certain projects, but it is not a general rule for the entire Brussels territory. However, it could quickly generate the necessary social housing. There are 50,000 people on the waiting list!"

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