The Walloon Government adopted a Decree on 18 March 2020 “pouvoirs spéciaux n° 2 relatif à la suspension temporaire des délais de rigueur et de recours” suspending all pending deadlines in order to ensure that no one is hindered either in the exercise of his/her rights or in the fulfilment of his/her obligations.
For the same reasons, the Brussels Capital Region’s Government has adopted a Decree on 7 April 2020 “n° 2020/001 du Gouvernement de la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale de pouvoirs spéciaux relatif à la suspension temporaire des délais de rigueur et de recours fixés dans l’ensemble de la législation et la réglementation bruxelloise ou adoptés en vertu de celle-ci”.
Which deadlines are suspended?
Both Decrees concern the deadlines provided in:
- Acts and decrees of the Region itself;
- Decrees executing its acts and/or decrees;
- Federal acts and royal decrees regarding matters for which the Region is competent based on the Special Act of 8 August 1980 on Institutional Reform and the Special Act of 12 January 1989 relating to Brussels Institutions (which evidently only concerns the Brussels Capital Region).
According to the Special Act of 8 August 1980, the Regions are competent for residential and commercial leases. Therefore, the suspension not only applies to e.g. deadlines for building/environmental permits, soil issues or animal welfare, but also to deadlines regarding commercial leases (this was confirmed by the relevant Walloon Minister’s office).
It is irrelevant whether the Region has acted on the competences provided for by the Special Act of 8 August 1980 by drafting new legislation or not. If there is no relevant Act or Decree at the level of the Region, then the Decree suspends the deadlines provided for in the federal legislation.
For how long?
The Walloon Government’s Decree suspends the deadlines starting as from 18 March 2020 until 30 April 2020. Hence, the suspended deadlines resume on 1 May 2020.
The Brussels Capital Region’s Government suspended the deadlines starting as from 16 March 2020 for a period of a month. This period has been renewed twice. The suspension period ends on 15 June 2020, meaning that the suspended deadlines resume on 16 June 2020.
Effects on commercial leases?
Following these Decrees, deadlines scheduled for the renewal of lease agreements or for the termination of lease agreements are suspended.
Example: if a commercial lease agreement ends on 20 Augustus 2021, this would normally mean that the lessor should request a renewal at the earliest on 21 February 2020 and at the latest on 19 May 2020. This period for renewal is now suspended.
Based on the current situation the suspension will be lifted on 1 May 2020 for the Walloon Region and on 16 June 2020 for the Brussels Capital Region.
In our example : for a lease in the Walloon Region the period for a valid renewal request resuming from 1 May 2020 will thus end on 2 July 2020 instead of 19 May 2020.
If the lessee rents a property located within the Brussels Capital Region the period for a valid renewal request resumes from 16 May 2020 and will end on 19 August 2020.
This “simple” measure can thus have long-lasting effects for both landlords and tenants in the Walloon Region or Brussels Capital Region.
If you have any queries concerning your commercial lease agreements in the Walloon Region, please do not hesitate to contact Lieven Peeters, Real Estate Partner, or Lies Vanquathem, Associate Real Estate, or your usual ALTIUS contact.
The above information is merely intended as comment on relevant issues of Belgian law and is not intended as legal advice. Before taking action or relying on the comments and the information given, please seek specific advice on the matters that are of concern to you.