Commercial leases

If you want to develop your commercial activity and rent premises for this purpose, the information set out below should clarify the situation and elucidate your options.

Commercial leases entail renting premises that are used primarily by the tenant or subtenant for retail purposes or for practising a craft and bring them into direct contact with the public.

Such rental contracts are governed by the law on commercial leases, which must be applied.

It is advisable to have a written commercial lease. The landlord (lessor) must expressly consent to the purpose of the lease (i.e. the activity intended to be exercised on the premises).

Term of the lease

Provided that the law on commercial leases applies, the tenant’s (lessee’s) benefit lies in the stability for his business activity, namely:

  • a lease lasting at least 9 years;
  • the right to renew the lease upon its expiry.

Contract and registration

To avoid potential difficulties, the rental contract should preferably be concluded in writing. Within 4 months of concluding a lease, the contracting parties (lessor and lessee) must present a copy of the contract (in triplicate), signed by both, to the authority that collects lease registration fees in the area where the respective property is located.

Complying with this formality protects the lessee by making the lease official.

Some contracts, such as rental agreements lasting less than a year, are not considered commercial leases.

Reviewing rents

Every three years the lessee and lessor may ask a justice of the peace to review the rent, in which case the person requesting the review must demonstrate that a change in circumstances has caused the rental value of the premises to rise or fall by 15% compared with the amount stipulated in the contract.

This review is subject to certain conditions and may only be initiated during the last three months of the three-year period under way.

Unlike with a private rental agreement, the rent paid under a commercial lease may only be indexedif thecontract itself provides for this possibility, and any resulting indexation must comply with legal requirements, namely by being based on the applicable health index.

Termination

Lessees may terminate their lease every three years by sending a registered letter to that effect or through notification served by a bailiff giving six months notice. Termination is also possible without any prior warning if an authenticated mutual agreement is drawn up or a statement to this effect is made to a justice of the peace.

Under certain circumstances, lessors may also terminate the less every 3 years after giving a year’s notice.

For more information, see the Business Vademecum on the FPS Economy websiteExternal link. (French-Dutch)