Rent collection from married and cohabiting tenants in Belgium

Renting out a property in Belgium can be a rewarding experience, but it also comes with its challenges. One of the common dilemmas faced by landlords is understanding their rights when it comes to collecting rent from tenants who are in a relationship, be it marriage, legal cohabitation, or de facto cohabitation. This article delves into the nuances of these scenarios and offers guidance on how landlords can navigate these situations.

couple in kitchen
Soroush Karimi

Married tenants

When you rent out a property to a married couple, both spouses are considered co-tenants. This holds true even if only one of them signed the lease agreement or if they got married after the lease was signed. As a landlord, you have the right to demand rent payment from both spouses. They are jointly and severally liable for the rent payment.

However, there’s a catch. If only one spouse signed the lease, you cannot hold the other spouse accountable for any tenant obligations that were not met before the date of their marriage.

Legally cohabiting tenants

Legal cohabitation in Belgium is akin to a civil partnership. When tenants are in a legal cohabitation, the same rules apply as if they were married. Both partners are considered co-tenants, and they share the same responsibilities towards the landlord, regardless of who signed the lease.

De facto cohabiting tenants

The situation gets a bit more intricate with de facto cohabiting tenants. Here, the primary consideration is who signed the lease. If only one tenant signed the agreement, then the landlord can only approach that individual for rent payment. However, if both partners signed the lease, the landlord can demand payment from either or both.

Moreover, when both partners sign the lease, they are jointly and severally liable for fulfilling their obligations. This means that the landlord can choose whom to approach for the entire overdue rent. If the relationship between the tenants ends, the partner who made the payment can subsequently try to recover half of the owed amount from their partner or ex-partner.

Implications for landlords

1. Lease clarity: Always ensure that the lease agreement clearly states the names of all tenants and their respective responsibilities. This can prevent potential disputes in the future.

2. Communication: Maintain open communication with your tenants. If there are any changes in their relationship status that might affect the lease, it’s beneficial to be informed early on.

3. Legal advice: If you’re unsure about your rights or how to handle a particular situation, consider seeking advice from a legal professional familiar with Belgian property laws.


Renting to couples, whether married or cohabiting, can be a smooth experience as long as landlords are aware of their rights and responsibilities. By understanding the nuances of different types of relationships and having a clear lease agreement in place, landlords can ensure a harmonious and profitable rental relationship.