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Tenants not paying common charges-Ask me unblock rental guarantee

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Tenants not paying common charges-Ask me unblock rental guarantee

I happen to be a Belgian landlord and syndic for a small building with three apartments. I have signed a 9 years contract last year with them

The template I used for signing the contract was  “contrat de bail de résidence principale pour un immeuble sis dans la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale
” <https://www.pim.be/telechargement/bail_principal_v2009_bruxelles.pdf>


As I wanted the apartment back for our own occupation, Our tenants vacated my apartment end of June, 10 months after their occupation.

They came back to me mid-July asking me to unblock rental guarantee held with the bank. I said I would do so once we settle the common charges. They claimed rental guarantee should not be held for settling common charges. The same day, they filed a counseling request withy Juge de Paix stating "landlord refusing to unblock rental guarantee" which is due for hearing next week


In the meantime, as the syndic, once I got accounting info from ISTA etc, I have sent a registered letter (this month Aug2012), with details of accounting(common charges) to both tenants. One of them accepted it while the other didn't. In that letter, I have clearly mentioned they have they possibility to see original invoices if they wish or meet me if they have any questions. I also gave them time until end of this month to pay overdue charges. So, I believe I have done everything legally required in terms finalizing building accounting for year 2011~2012.

They had the habit of not paying the rent or provisional common charges in time. They also didn't leave forwarding address when they left the apartment. The only  way I could find their present address and send accounting info was by looking at address specified by them in their counseling request sent to me by Judge de Pax office.

Tenants Calling me for counseling is not the first time either, this is already second time, in their 10 months stay with us.Honestly, I won't get charges overdue if I unblock the rental guarantee.


Summary is,
# I need to unblock rental guarantee from bank for 1600 euro from both tenants.
# They need to pay us 800 euro due based on their usage/consumption during the time of their occupation.
# I only stated to them (also mentioned din my account statement) that they can approach me to unblock rental guarantee once they have paid overdue charges. They were given option to consult invoices at the building or approach me for any question on accounting


-(1) Do I need to go for counseling-(Not easy for me as I am working out of the country on such counseling days)? ( I know it is NOT obligatory, from my past experience with them)
-(2) Is it legally right that landlord doesn't unblock rental guarantee until tenants settle overdue common charges?
-(3)Is there any legal time limit I should unblock rental guarantee even if they don't pay outstanding charges?

By the way, the tenants are Belgians, around 25 years of age, one or or both unemployed. They were living together when they occupied but they have already split up and not living together anymore two months before they vacated the house


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grmff
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Re : Tenants not paying common charges-Ask me unblock rental guarantee

When you write "counseling", I suppose you mean "Conciliation", I guess. Please confirm.

In case you mean "conciliation":

(1) Do I need to go for counseling-(Not easy for me as I am working out of the country on such counseling days)? ( I know it is NOT obligatory, from my past experience with them)

No, there is no obligation. But if they file for request, it will be the same judge. If they file for "conciliation", it is to put a little pressure for free (Conciliation is 100% free and can be requested by letter I believe. No need to even go to the Palais de Justice...)

-(2) Is it legally right that landlord doesn't unblock rental guarantee until tenants settle overdue common charges?

No, there is no such "rule" that you can keep the rental garantee until charges are calculated and overdue paid. But it is very common to free garantee only when the account is final.

-(3)Is there any legal time limit I should unblock rental guarantee even if they don't pay outstanding charges?

In the case you mention, you should ask them to agree formaly on the charges, and meet them at the bank.
Then, the garantee can be freed according to the maney they owe you.

Example:
They owe you 800€ altogether.
The garantee is 1600€.
You sign at the bank to free 800€ on your account and the saldo on the account of the tenant.


Grmf!
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N'envie pas les autres. Tu ne sais pas ce que l'avenir leur réserve...

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Re : Tenants not paying common charges-Ask me unblock rental guarantee

When you write "counseling", I suppose you mean "Conciliation", I guess. Please confirm.

Yes, that's right. I indeed meant "Conciliation"

I feel like visiting the judge de paix office this week and let them know that I won't be able to attend the Conciliation due to following reason

I am working out of the country since 200x and currently busy on a project.

I see counseling only happens on Thursdays. I cannot be present in Belgium on any Thursday from XXth August until YYst December. I am available to attend any counseling after YYth December until end of Jan 2013

Also, this counseling is NOT required. Once our ancient tenants pay their overdue charges, I will unblock their rental guarantee.

In the meantime, I am available all weekends in Belgium at the specified building, Tenants were notified they can approach me any weekend ,
if they have questions with accounting or if they want to see invoices.

If the tenant agrees to the charges, I am willing to  meet  them in the bank one of the Fridays or weekend anytime soon and unblock the rental guarantee.


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WSP
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Re : Tenants not paying common charges-Ask me unblock rental guarantee

Replied too soon.

Can I leave such a message with Judge de paix as reason for canceling the "Conciliation"? With this, am I not showing my inclination/recording with the judge that I am willing to resolve this amicably in a convenient manner to both parties involved?


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WSP
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Re : Tenants not paying common charges-Ask me unblock rental guarantee

I intend to send the folloing letter to both tenants and leave a copy of this letter with Justice de Piax requesting them to cancel the foreseen conciliation next week


I honestly can't attend the conciliation on Thursdays due to
work scheduling.

I know judge may see me if tenant opens a "requette" but will this letter work against me?


Dear tenants,

I am afraid I would not be able to attend the counseling on September Xth at the office of the peace justice as proposed by you.

As you know, I am working out of the country since 200x and currently busy on a project. I see counseling with Justice de Paix only happens on Thursdays. I cannot be present in Belgium from Monday to Thursday unless I plan well in advance.

Normally, I am available in Brussels on some Fridays and almost all weekends.

I am available to meet you on or to attend any counseling, preferbaly with,

(a) either your parent who came for signing the contract
(b) or, with any other mutually agreed third-party


In the meantime, I would be grateful if you could settle the common chargs as per accounting bills the following registered letters dated 17th August
sent you both:

bpost registration # xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
bpost registration # yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy




If you have any questions with the billing or would like to see the original invoices, I am at your disposal at the building one of these weekends.


If you formally agree to pay or already paid the pending common charges, I am willing to meet you in the bank to unblock your rental guarantee.
Please propose a time and date to do so. As notified to you, I am available in Brussels some FRidays or most of the weekends  .


For any such meetings  , Please kindly fix an appointment in advance.


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panchito
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Re : Tenants not paying common charges-Ask me unblock rental guarantee

If your contract is in French, I suppose you will send this letter in French to them?
English is not recognized as an official language in Brussels (you must use French or Dutch), so I think that the Judge will not accept a letter written in English...

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grmff
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Re : Tenants not paying common charges-Ask me unblock rental guarantee

Writing a letter is a good idea.

Of course, it just change nothing on the legal result. The judge will not be able to make a decision based on your letter. In conciliation, judges don't make decision: they aknowledge an agreement or desagreement between parties.

But, should the judge be influenced by the rudeness of your absence, a letter will make your point, excuse your absence and explain that your tenants have an excessive reaction.

But I would write a letter to your tenants differently. As you owe them the garantee and they owe you the charges, I would suggest to close the account by signing the agreement for the cancellation of the warranty and payment to your account at the same time.

Banks have such forms. Usually, these forms must be signed at the bank, with owner and ex-tenants present at the same time.

I would be them, knowing that the termination of the relationship is so tense, I would never agree to pay you whatever amount with a locked garantee.

So, if one of them agree on the charges, ask them both to come at the bank of the garantee.


Grmf!
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Re : Tenants not paying common charges-Ask me unblock rental guarantee

Grmff,


Thanks a bunch!!!! smile

I have written a letter to both tenants, copying office of Justice de paix, stating I won't be able to attend conciliation.

I have also proposed three dates in September where tenants could meet me in their bank to unblock the rental guarantee


I have also requested them to pay  pending common charges and gave them option  they can meet or look at original invoices expenses at building premises.

They were given option to bring their parents for discussion or we can go to mutually agreed third-party for conciliation if required, on a day when I am available in Brussels.(Not Monday to Thursday)

I will goto Justice de paix office tomorrow and cancel conciliation request and leave a  copy of the letter I am sending to tenants, for their records

-(1)In case if they want to file a standard requette, who bears this cost?
-(2) I have other reasons to become non-resident. If I become a non-resident,can they still open a standard requette with justice de paix with a person who is not residing in Belgium anymore?


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WSP
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Re : Tenants not paying common charges-Ask me unblock rental guarantee

I have just received an email from my tenants, a Bruxelles lawyer has been copied in the email.

Suite à votre courrier recommandé concernant le décompte de frais, nous vous informons que nous contestons les montants repris et vous demandons de nous envoyer au plus vite tous les justificatifs des frais détaillés dans ce courrier.

Bien à vous,


Do I need to respond while I give them an option to meet me and see all invoices and talk it out, with the presence of their parents or a third-party mediator, if necessary?

•    If you have any questions with the billing for common charges, I am at your disposal at the building almost all weekends.
•    If you would like to see the original invoices for common charges, they are available for your consulting in the building.

(1) How can I send a bunch of invoices by post?
-(2)In case if they want to file a standard requette, who bears this cost?
-(3) I have other reasons to become non-resident. If I become a non-resident,can they still open a standard requette with justice de paix with a person who is not residing in Belgium anymore?
(4)-I am a Belgian. What other legal recourses can they take, say engaginga lawayer like what they do now, if I am a non-resident and living in a NON-EU country?


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panchito
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Re : Tenants not paying common charges-Ask me unblock rental guarantee

You can scan all the bills and send them via email.

You will also need to explain (via an Excell Spreadsheet for example), the charges calculation breakdown (with all the repartion keys between the different apartements). But that is absolutely no problem for you as you are the Syndic of this building, right?

It is a perfect lagal request from your tenants. As landlord, and following the Belgian laws on renting, you MUST justify in all details all the charges you have billed to your tenants.

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WSP
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Re : Tenants not paying common charges-Ask me unblock rental guarantee

You can scan all the bills and send them via email.

You will also need to explain (via an Excell Spreadsheet for example), the charges calculation breakdown (with all the repartion keys between the different apartements). But that is absolutely no problem for you as you are the Syndic of this building, right?


That's nota problem for me. I have already sent bills with break up in excel But there are about 50 original bills to scan.

Can't they have a look at originals at the building, as quoted here, which seems perfectly legal?

http://dgo4.spw.wallonie.be/DGATLP/DGATLP/Pages/Log/DwnLd/FichesLocation/Le%20loyer%20et%20les%20charges%20locatives%202011.pdf

The owner must make available to the tenant the documents so he could see it.
In many apartment buildings, this requirement is fulfilled when the owner sent a statement of charges and expenses and that the possibility is offered to the tenant or his representative to consult the documents at the address of the person or organization that manages.

I had enough with them and stopped responding in emails, as it never ends, they conveniently cut what they want in emails.
Also it is not appropriate to copy all Bruxelles lawyers when asking for info, right?

We clearly give the option to ,meet, view all original bills, discuss each expense if they don't understand.

So,
(a)is it really necessary to scan 50 pages of invoices and email?
(b) Did I interpret above link correctly (that giving them option to view original bill at building premises is more than sufficient) or do I still need to send a copy of all bills?


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WSP
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Re : Tenants not paying common charges-Ask me unblock rental guarantee

Also, I have a point not to respond to them on emails, write only registered paper letter and respond only to paper letters, to avoid dealing with never ending email thread , copying the whole world who I don't even know.

Although they are split, One tenant sends an email signing with both names(you know what I mean, just write both names end of email, not a real signature). So unless what BOTH of them want, I don't see a purpose wasting spending 10 euros for each time.

I have already wrote them in a letter that I won't be responding to emails as, IMHO, they are not counted legally anywhere, to avoid never ending thread, edited to their convenience.


So,
(a)is it really necessary to scan 50 pages of invoices on email (which is practically not possible as attachment will go beyond 10Mb)?
(b) Did I interpret link below correctly (that giving them option to view original bill at building premises is more than sufficient) or do I still need to send a copy of all bills?
(c) Is it illegal not responding to emails?


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panchito
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Re : Tenants not paying common charges-Ask me unblock rental guarantee

Since they have a lawyer, it would be better for you to have also yours.

As Syndic in Belgium, it was compulsory for you to cover your responsibilities through a RC insurance.

If you have taken a good RC maybe you have also a "protection juridique" that can allow you to get a specialized lawyer for free.

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Re : Tenants not paying common charges-Ask me unblock rental guarantee

If you have taken a good RC maybe you have also a "protection juridique" that can allow you to get a specialized lawyer for free.

I have "protection juridique" through an RC with KBC but I am not sure it will cover me(it may cover me landlord , not as syndic..

Also, I may only be able use in response to a lawyer notice. I may not be able initiate the process myself, engaging a lawyer.

I already approached my insurer a few months back that my tenant may sue me and will my "protection juridique" cover me but I didn't get response from the insurer.

I don't know what clauses they have . I can only deal with it when it comes to it.

My only point is, they could bring their parent for signing the lease. Let them bring one more time to sort this out once for all. I want to be lenient, even give away a few euros as a landlord/tenant still report expense as it is, as a syndic.  What they are fighting for is 400 euro per head, overdue. They have lawyer friends and want to deal everything via email cheaply whereas, as landlord, I have to cover myself with registered letter to both tenants, 12 euro per letter sad


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grmff
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Re : Tenants not paying common charges-Ask me unblock rental guarantee

You have lots of questions....

(1) How can I send a bunch of invoices by post?

Scan them

-(2)In case if they want to file a standard requette, who bears this cost?

The loser bear the cost. If they use lawyer, they can add a standard lawsuit expense of 170€, but they have to pay their lawyer.

-(3) I have other reasons to become non-resident. If I become a non-resident,can they still open a standard requette with justice de paix with a person who is not residing in Belgium anymore?

No. But they can file a citation, which is much more expensive... for the looser

(4)-I am a Belgian. What other legal recourses can they take, say engaginga lawayer like what they do now, if I am a non-resident and living in a NON-EU country?

They can send citation (equivalent to requête, but sent by "huissier de justice" or equivalent) and it is really expensive.
Don't play this odd game...


Grmf!
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grmff
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Re : Tenants not paying common charges-Ask me unblock rental guarantee

(a)is it really necessary to scan 50 pages of invoices and email?

No obligation. But for good faith, it is good. 50 pages by mail with a scanner at 300ppp is not so heavy

(b) Did I interpret above link correctly (that giving them option to view original bill at building premises is more than sufficient) or do I still need to send a copy of all bills?

As a syndic, you should allow them to see the bills. Wathever the way you choose.

But I would play the fool and impose conditions irrelevant to your situation. You have a difficult planning? Don't impose extra conditions.


Grmf!
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grmff
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Re : Tenants not paying common charges-Ask me unblock rental guarantee

My only point is, they could bring their parent for signing the lease. Let them bring one more time to sort this out once for all. I want to be lenient, even give away a few euros as a landlord/tenant still report expense as it is, as a syndic. What they are fighting for is 400 euro per head, overdue. They have lawyer friends and want to deal everything via email cheaply whereas, as landlord, I have to cover myself with registered letter to both tenants, 12 euro per letter

Personnaly, if they refuse any agreement after the reception of the scan of the invoices, I would go further and go for the requête. 15 days, and no further hesitation...

As for the registered letter, I would reply to registered letter by registered letter. And to mail by mail. Remember that they are "Obligés solidairement et indivisiblement"

But you informed that one of them agree with the charges count. Ask him to sign that. It will help.

And again, if they owe you 800€ on the total, and the garantee is 1600€, ask them to meet at the bank to free the garantee and pay your extra expenses at the same time from the garantee account.

Giving them this appointment will finish the case.


Grmf!
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N'envie pas les autres. Tu ne sais pas ce que l'avenir leur réserve...

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WSP
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Re : Tenants not paying common charges-Ask me unblock rental guarantee

All your answers & time spent much appreciated.

# I will not complicate things

# I will not impose conditions. If they want break-up by email, I will provide one. If they ask for a scanned copy of all bills by email, I will provide one

# I do not think I am obliged to "reply all" to a Brussels lawyer who is in carbon copy, as I don't know him/her and do not a see a reason how they get engaged.(I inly know the other parti is a lawyer as per emailATsygmavocat.be)

# With respect to accounting sent, I did not mean one agrees to pay it. The "girl" accepted the letter. She is the one who is asking for break-up, CCing a lawyer.THis is not the first time she CCed  a lawyer on email for any communication with me. The "boy" didn't accept the copy of the annual accounting yet tilldate, still awaiting pickup in bpost, do not know if one or both changed their address with commune as I still receive letters for them at our place.

# The communication we had so far was:
(1)The "girl" met me in July asking me to unblock rental guarantee. I said  I will do so once accounting is settled. They said rental guarantee has noting to do with common charges and filing "conciliation request" the same day.
(2)I sent accounting mid-augsut
(3) I send a letter today giving them appointment to unblock gaurentee
(4) Would respond to them next week providing copy of bills by emails
(5) !!!I am a dilemma whether to for conciliation or Not!!!

#For the conciliation,  I still hesitate to go in front of the judge for the simple reason that I do not speak any of the official languages. Their attitude changed recently that they want to speak to me in local language only. I do not how can i defend myself. Yes , tehr eis a solution, I need to find a translator. But going for consiliation, is it required now. The reason sought for concilation was :

Le proprietaire refuse de signer le document de deblockage de la garantie locative"

Here is the letter I *intend to send  today* (end august), both in English and French (Google translate)

To :
Tenat 1@address1
Tenant 2@address2

CC:
Judge de paix

Sub: Unblocking your rental guarantee/ Le déblocage de votre garantie de loyer
•    Justice de Paix Rep: by/Reg xxxx/yyyy
•    Justice de Paix Ref: zzzzz, cocilaition dated <date>

I am afraid I would not be able to attend the counseling on September Xth at the office of the Justice de Paix, <commune>, as proposed by you.

As you know, I am working out of the country since 20xx and currently busy on a project.  I see counseling with Justice de Paix only happens on Thursdays. I cannot be present in Belgium from Monday to Thursday unless I plan very well in advance.

To unblock your rental guarantee, I am available in Brussels on following dates and can meet you both at your bank. Can you confirm on which date/time specified below you both are available to meet me at your bank to unblock rental guarantee? Also specify the address of your bank for our meeting.
•    9 AM on 7th or 8th September (Friday or Saturday)
•    9 AM on 14th 0r 15th September, 2012 (Friday, Saturday)
•    9 AM on 21st or 22nd September, 2012 (Friday, Saturday)

In the meantime, I would be grateful if you could settle the common charges as per accounting bills sent to you both by the following registered letters dated 17th August 2012:

1.    bpost registration # abcdefgh123456789900000000000000
2.    bpost registration # abcdefgh123456789900000000000001


•    If you have any questions with the billing for common charges, I am at your disposal at the building almost all weekends.
•    If you would like to see the original invoices for common charges, they are available for your consulting in the building.


Honestly, I the reason they quoted for conciliation is not true. I only said I will sign once we settle the bill. Now that we have finished accounting & I have given them appointment to unblock the rental guarantee, I do not see a reason to jump through hoofs , be present for conciliation, which becomes ground for discussing expenses


So, in a way, the registered letetr I am sending today is the response to their written conciliation request which came from Justice de paix.


I will also respond to to email with break-up and scanned copy of bills.


[color=#0000E0]The last question I would like to get an answer before Justice de paix closes for today is:[/couleur]

[color=#A00000]Given the situation, what is the recommendation from you folks?

-Go for the conciliation and sort it out ( Need to bear consequences at work,
jumping middle of week from that country, associated travel expenses etc)
-Or just send registered letter above, give appointment  for canceling guarentee as cited above and keep responding in each channel, letter to letter, email to email?
[/couleur]

[color=#0000C0]Based on your answer
(a) I will send the letter/inform justice de paix about cancelation of conciliation by today or
(b)  simply don't send above letter and go for conciliation next week
[/couleur]


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panchito
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Re : Tenants not paying common charges-Ask me unblock rental guarantee

If they have a lawyer, take also one.

Never respond yourself to a lawyer!

If you don't know the Belgian laws on renting by heart, and don't have a good command of the official languages in Brussels-Capital (French-Dutch), it would be silly to go alone in front of any Judge.

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Re : Tenants not paying common charges-Ask me unblock rental guarantee

panchito a écrit :

If they have a lawyer, take also one.

Never respond yourself to a lawyer!

If you don't know the Belgian laws on renting by heart, and don't have a good command of the official languages in Brussels-Capital (French-Dutch), it would be silly to go alone in front of any Judge.

dix.gif


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