Tenant Rights in Brussels – Chapter #2

After 2 lawyers confirmed, that our only option is to go to court and possibly pay for a lengthy and pricy procedure, we decided to stay in our apartment. We might lose less this way.

Probably our landlord picked up some of the issue, as our heating has been fixed this week. The workmen went on the roof in pouring rain and extreme wind. I think that day was the windiest all year (just to point out, it is funny because they came twice and not finish the work because of the weather and refused an appointment for this very same reason). So they quickly became weatherproof. πŸ™‚

We had heating for – wait for it – 4 hours. Then the newly installed furnace broke down and started leaking immense amount of water. We just laughed. I think this was the point where we just gave up.

They came the next morning and fixed it, so we have heating. They installed a furnace that decides to work automatically depending on outdoors temperature. You can control indoor temperature on the radiators themselves. Two of ours can not be controlled and are stuck in the hottest setting. So now our flat is very hot. πŸ˜€

Yesterday I came home to see workmen fixing electricity in the laundry room, and the landlord sent the yearly reading to all habitants. He came to the flat to install a separate electric meter for the furnace, but he couldn’t. So more workmen will arrive on Monday and we will have a meter. Fingers crossed.

Since the heating is on, the humidity is fairly down. We are measuring 65 – 70 percent downstairs, which is good compared to previous measures. So I decided to rearrange the flat, buy some new furniture and see how this turns out. πŸ™‚

The cats love heating. They are on the radiators all the time, so they seem to be happy.

It has been 14 days since the girls have been spayed so Malna is finally getting rid of her little dress. Oh I have not posted pictures of my cats in dresses…

Kicsi (Xeni) hated the dress, so we had to remove it after a week. Fortunately, she did not lick the wound, so happy days so far.

Unhappy cat dress

Malna on the other hand had to wear it, whether she liked it or not, as she kept licking the wound, over and over again.

ungappy cat dressed

But we are through this as well. πŸ™‚


Tenant rights in Brussels – Chapter #1

So unfortunately we have found ourselves in a rather uncomfortable situation. We slowly found out things about our apartment.

As all good tenants, we asked about separate meters, bills and so on before signing the contract. After we moved in, as obliged by law we took on the electricity bill. For water, heating and common charges we pay 180 EUR provision to the landlord. We connected the internet for ourselves and pay a separate bill for that. All happy. All set.

And then we receive the first estimated bill of 131 EUR. Lampiris has a calculator, and does not matter how we entered our consumption, even if we doubled the size of the apartment and added 3 children, still did not manage to result in such a high bill. Maybe we gave in the wrong meter? Well, lets switch it off, and see if it is our flat.

Meters are downstairs, in the basement area, where the common laundry room is. We really liked this feature, as we did not have to buy a washing machine just yet. There are 2 washers and a dryer, and 4 flats are sharing.

So we switch our meter off, and there goes the lighting in the basement. There are 3 storage rooms, and the laundry. The washers go silent. The whole hallway goes dark. Yes. It is on our name, and we are metered for that. So we called the landlord to confirm, where he allegedly admitted he forgot to mention this, but not to worry, he will sort that out.

This has been more than 2 months ago.

We asked him about this quite a few times, and he always promised it will be done soon.

On a very cold August evening we arrive home from work to a pretty loud and constant sound. We follow it to the basement, and figure it is the heating furnace. In our flat. Well, we should have put this on before and listen, because this is loud. Well, never mind, we will switch it off when we sleep.

So we try to switch it off, but it won’t stop. Our radiators are cold, but it is still on. Strange. We ask the landlord who informs us about the heating system being shared and can be controlled from another flat, too. So wait, how is this metered? Well, the gas is on the landlords name, and he shares the bill. The electricity for this is connected to us, but not to worry, it is marginal.

It uses more than a washing machine, so having it on all the time does cost us, and for me, that is not marginal.

So we are slowly getting to the point, where we feel we have been lied to. Fortunately, the landlord seems to admit to these problems so we feel we are figuring out a way. Another month passes, and workmen turn up to change the heating for a one that is not that noisy, automatically working, so there is no misunderstanding on who is in control of the furnace, but it is still connected to our meter. We receive a promise for a meter connected to its electrical cord.

Now the workmen, family related to the landlord turn out to be utterly incompetent. They have been in the flat (mess, damages, wasted worktime for us) 4 times, and promised to come another 3 times, but never showed. So there has been no heating for 3 weeks now, it is October and we are cold. Our time is being wasted.

I decided I was too fed up to put up with this and want out. So I have been in contact with 2 lawyers, and one of them gave us the idea to go to the Registry Office and see if our contract has been registered, because in Brussels if a rental contract has not been registered by the landlord it can be terminated any time, without paying penalty. Oh yes, the penalty. Here, by law, if a tenant breaks the contract in the first year has to pay 3 months rent penalty. If in the second year, 2 months penalty, if in the third, 1 month. Also, a 3 months notice period is required.

BUT, if it has not been registered, no notice period, not penalty. Cool! To the registry office it is.

We queued up at 8:30 and by 8:40 we knew the contract was never registered. Smile on face, email to the lawyer. How do we end the contract?

We don’t. This law is not in place for a 3 year contract. We can go to court if we want. Boo!

So if we want to be out, 3 months notice, 3 month penalty, probably a lost deposit of 2 months. And we can go to court and bear the cost of that too.

Well, Belgium, I expected better! 😦

unikitty rage

Ordering Organic Food in Brussels

Yesterday I got two steps closer to become the more health and environment conscious human being I always wanted to be.

First, I bought myself a yoga mat in decathlon. Second, I have just found a perfect way to get fresh organic food quickly, with no fuss at all. I order it in surprise boxes.

What are the most common problems I encountered when started clean eating?

  • eating the same things over and over again, no variety
  • not consuming enough fruit and vegetables
  • not in the mood for going out shopping, then to cook after
  • while out shopping, sneaking around and buying fast food because it is quicker

Be fair. Most of us know about 10 recipes by heart, and when there is limited time to make something quickly in the evening, no one ever gets adventurous with new, never tried recipes. After a long day of work, the least I want to do is to google recipes, buy ingredients and start cooking at 8PM. We tried to have a list of meals we wanted to eat each week beforehand, but we ended up putting the same menu over and over again. So I figured, that variety in cooking needs inspiration, surprise and a wider choice of ingredients. And we need to cut out shopping time.

To solve the problem of not eating enough fruit and veg I opted in for pushing fruit and veg on us harder. If it enters our flat by itself it will have to be eaten.

So I ordered from Reason2.be.

So it got delivered.

Last evening we received our first box (actually, it arrived in 2 boxes and a bag) of food, and it contained a huge cut of rump steak, chicken legs, smoked beef slices, 6 eggs, a litre of milk and all this fruit and veg heaven:

essentials box from reason2be

This is the smallest order possible for the essentials package. I also ordered some healthy snacks which contained nuts, dried fruit and chocolate. The content of the box is pre-set and changes every week depending on what is in season. You cannot change what is in there, but you can set a dislike list. Anything that is on the list will never be sent. The contents of the box is not a complete mystery, as there is an option on the page to look in the boxes but I prefer not to. When the box arrives it is Christmas all over again πŸ˜‰

You can manually add extra items, such as yoghurts, beer, organic wines, jams, the list seems endless. There is a wide variety of boxes: fruit only, veg only, benelux only, organic essentials, recipe boxes (I will try this once, for sure), beers and wine mixes, meat boxes, grill boxes, snack boxes and so on.

What I really like about this, that we receive and are forced to eat food that we would probably never ever have otherwise. For example, yesterday evening I made leek, mushroom and smoked beef omelette with a salad of endives and leek. It was the best omelette we had in years, but this is not something you walk into the local Delhaize for. The amount of fruit seem immense to us, I don’t think we ever had this much at home. I am contemplating to make a fruit salad later. πŸ™‚ For today, half of the chicken legs is next on the list, they will be roasted and eaten with some potato mash tonight. I am saving the steaks for the weekend, will make one more omelette and a vegetable curry, too.

Soon, there will be Wednesday again, for my mystery box to arrive. Can’t wait πŸ™‚