Real estate law
Is it compulsory to draw up an inventory of fixtures on entry? What happens at the end of the lease? What rules apply in different regions?
What is an inventory of fixtures?
In order to avoid any dispute concerning the condition of the rented property and, above all, to obtain proof of this condition at the time of the entry into force of the lease, it is useful to draw up an inventory.
The inventory of fixtures is a document that provides a detailed description of the condition of the property and its equipment when the keys are handed over to the tenant on entry and exit.
The comparison of the inventory of fixtures at the time of entry with that at the time of exit will make it possible to establish the responsibility of the tenant and/or the landlord for any damage to the property following its occupation by the tenant.
This is a legally required formality for any lease contract for a principal residence concluded in the Walloon Region, the Brussels-Capital Region and the Flemish Region.
Rules common to the three Regions:
The inventory of fixtures is carried out either by an amicable report between the parties, or by a report drawn up by a professional, or, in the absence of agreement between the parties, by a legal expert appointed by the Justice of the Peace of the place where the rented property is located.
Articles 1730 and 1731 of the Civil Code impose the following conditions:
Is an initial inventory of fixtures compulsory?
The applicable legislation provides that in the absence of an inventory of fixtures on entry, the tenant is presumed to have received the property in the condition in which it is at the end of the lease.
It is therefore in the lessor's interest to have a precise and detailed inventory of fixtures drawn up at the beginning of the lease in order to estimate, at the end of the lease, the amount of any rental damage caused to the rented property. Otherwise, at the end of the lease, it will be extremely difficult for the landlord to prove the existence of rental damage since he will not have a "snapshot" of the situation at the time the tenant entered the premises.
What happens at the end of the lease?
If no detailed inventory of fixtures has been drawn up by the parties to the contract, all damage existing at the time of leaving the lease is presumed to have been present at the time of the tenant's entry into the premises, unless the lessor can prove the contrary.
As long as the lessor does not prove that the damage to the property was caused by the lessee, a member of his family or a person for whom he is responsible, the lessee will be presumed to return the leased property in the condition in which he received it. If the lessor nevertheless succeeds in proving that the lessee is responsible for damage to the property, he must establish a joint estimate of the amount of this damage, either by drawing up an expert report or by an agreement between the parties on the valuation of this damage.
If a detailed inventory of fixtures has been drawn up on arrivalIf the tenant has caused any damage to the property, he will have to repair it or compensate the landlord. If there is damage to the rented property, the tenant must repair it or compensate the landlord, unless it is caused by the age of the property, force majeure or the normal use of the rented property.
Specific rules for the Regions?
Although the regional legislators decided to refer explicitly to the above-mentioned provisions of the Civil Code, they did introduce some specificities which should be summarised.
The three Regions provide, inter alia, for the possibility for each party to request the establishment of an inventory of outputThe parties may also refer the matter to the competent judge, in the absence of an agreement between the parties, so that he may appoint an expert to carry out an inventory of fixtures before the date on which the keys are handed over.
As regards the Flemish RegionOn 18 May 2018, the European Commission approved its decree on residential leases, but the new regulations will only come into force on 1 January 2018.er January 2019. At this stage, it does not seem to provide for any other specificities in terms of inventory of fixtures.
As far as the Brussels Capital Region is concernedIn addition, the Act provides that the procedure for the inventory of fixtures also applies to subletting. Secondly, if the property is individually metered, the inventory of fixtures will include the meter readings as well as the meter numbers, EAN codes or other identification codes of the water, gas and electricity meters.
The Walloon Decree provides that from September 2018, unless otherwise agreed, the inventory of fixtures must contain at least :
(1) the date of the inventory; (2) the identity and capacity of the persons carrying out the inventory; (3) the lease references : (4) a general note giving a quick overview of the state of the accommodation, materials and equipment as well as the general state of maintenance and cleanliness of the rooms; (5) a description of the apparent state of repair, any damage and the state of cleanliness of each room; (6) the state and apparent functioning of the equipment present; (7) the statement of the documents ; (8) the maintenance documents for the equipment and the date they were carried out; (9) the meter readings and tank gauges; (10) the recording of the keys, remote controls, badges, chips and other devices given to the tenant; (11) the existence and location of the fire detectors; (12) the signatures preceded by the words "read and approved" of the parties present or their representative; (13) the signature of the person or persons responsible for the observations.
For the inventory of fixtures at the end of the lease, the following information is required:
(1) the date of the inventory of fixtures; (2) the identity and capacity of the persons carrying out the inventory of fixtures; (3) the designation of the accommodation which is the subject of the inventory of fixtures; (4) references to the date of the lease, the date of the inventory of fixtures on entry, the duration of occupation of the premises and any amendment to the lease; (5) whether or not the damage noted is attributable to the tenant; (6) the meter readings and the tank gauges (7) the recording of keys, remote controls, badges, chips and other devices handed over to the tenant; (8) any observations relating to items or documents still to be handed over; (9) the place and date of signature; (10) the signatures preceded by the words "read and approved" of the parties present or their representative; (11) the signature(s) of the person(s) responsible for the findings.
The establishment of a detailed inventory of fixtures and fittings, to be carried out by both parties and at joint expense, is an essential part of any rental of a property used as the tenant's principal residence.
This obligation, which is the corollary of the obligation to return the leased property at the end of the lease by the tenant, is intended to protect the parties from possible disputes relating to material damage affecting the occupied property, either during the lease or at the end of the lease.
It is therefore essential to carry out an inventory of fixtures on arrival and departure, in accordance with the procedures summarised above.
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