Rental market temporarily escapes inflation spectre
For the first time since 2019, rental prices in Belgium are rising less quickly than inflation. This is evident from the latest analyses of rental prices in Belgium by Realo.
General figures about rental prices
First of all, the numbers: compared to the previous 12 months, the average rental price for flats rose by almost €20 per month in Belgium in the last quarter, an increase of 2.25%. This amounts to an average rent of €810 per month. For houses, on the other hand, a relatively smaller share of the rental market, prices remained stuck at an average of €983 per month. It is important to note that national figures are strongly distorted by the high concentration of rental properties in the Brussels region (70% of the local market), where average rents are €300 higher for flats and almost double for houses. Leaving Brussels aside, rents in the rest of Belgium were €739 and €943 per month for flats and houses respectively.
Strongest risers and regional differences
Surprisingly, the strongest riser is Wallonia, with an increase of just under 4% for flats in the last quarter compared to the previous 12 months. Prices there are still lower than in the rest of the country, averaging 676 euros per month. However, the gap with Flanders, where you pay an average of 769 euro per month, is not closing any time soon. In no region of Belgium did rental prices rise significantly for houses.
Stability in uncertain times
However, this increase must be seen in the light of current inflation prices, which have been skyrocketing exponentially for some time. The relevant figure here is the health index, a derivative of the consumer price index, on the basis of which rents may be indexed year on year. Looking at the monthly trends, it is very clear that as of 2019, but especially in 2020 and 2021, rents had risen much more strongly than the health index. In other words, the prices of new leases were set at a higher price than justified by the index. This seems to have come to an end in 2022. Rental prices have remained high but stable since mid-2021. In combination with the exponentially rising indices, those rents in 2022 now fall below the health index. In March we saw the figures rise again briefly, but with the latest figures for April, that rise does not seem to be continuing, unlike the health index. When we look at prices and the index on an annual basis, rents continue to rise less strongly in 2022 compared to the index. Although the index has been rising for some time now, the question now remains whether rents will continue to hover around the index or whether we will see an increase with some delay.
Northwest, southeast, where is the highest price?
Four areas immediately stand out when we study the rental price charts: Brussels and surroundings, the region around Antwerp, the south of the country and Knokke-Heist. Not surprisingly, the top 10 most expensive municipalities are almost exclusively filled with municipalities in Brussels and Flemish Brabant. Both for houses and flats, Kraainem in Flemish Brabant is at the top, where you pay 1132 euros per month for a flat and 1131 euros for a house. For other municipalities in Brussels (Ixelles, Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, Uccle, among others), it is also difficult to get by for less than 1,000 euros for a flat or 2,000 euros for a house. The only exception in the list is Knokke-Heist in West Flanders, which is also a familiar face in the top 10 of house prices. To buy a flat there, you can expect to pay an average of EUR 1122 per month. Although Wallonia is generally cheaper to rent (Walloon Brabant aside), it is striking that the southern tip of Belgium, the area around Arlon, is a fairly expensive region to rent (houses: € 1242/month, flats: € 797/month). An explanation is not far to seek - literally - with the proximity of neighbouring Luxembourg. The capital city includes many international institutions with a higher turnover of international profiles, which is why many expats are looking for a more temporary residence there. Due to the good accessibility and sky-high rental prices in Luxembourg, employees are likely to look just over the border for a cheaper alternative, still with a relatively larger budget thanks to the higher wages in that country. Finally, we throw some light on Antwerp. The province is the most expensive municipality in Flanders to rent after Flemish-Brabant, with an average of € 1080 for a house and € 799 for a flat. Although some neighbourhoods in Antwerp are among the most expensive in the country, the most expensive municipalities to rent are all located just outside Antwerp. In Schilde, you pay just under €1,000 in rent for a flat and in Brasschaat and Kontich, you can expect to pay an average of around €1,500 in rent for a house.