Renting in Leuven: don't forget the survey/inventory report!

A plaatsbeschrijving or survey/inventory report is mandatory when you move into a house or apartment.  But besides it being mandatory, it's also very useful: a well made report when you move in will save you discussion and possibly money when it's time to move out again. 

What is a plaatsbeschrijving (entry-exit survey or inventory)?

A survey is a document in which a precise and detailed description is made of the property and the state it is in when a tenant moves in or out.

Based on the comparison of the entry and exit report, the landlord may under certain conditions, withhold part of the rental guarantee, or even the full amount if necessary to cover the damages. By consequence from a tenant’s point of view, a properly made survey is important to avoid paying for damage that was already there at the time of entry.   

Is a survey mandatory?  

Yes. A survey is part of the documents that are required at the start of the lease, regardless of whether it concerns a house, apartment, studio, furnished or unfurnished.  

A survey only has legal value if:

  • Both the tenant and the landlord were present or represented,
  • It was made when the building was empty or during the first month of occupancy,
  • It was dated and signed by both parties,
  • It is detailed.

The exit survey had to be done when the property is empty, cleaned and before the keys are returned to the landlord.

Registration of the survey is also mandatory (just like the lease) and is done by the landlord at the latest two months after the date of signature of the lease.  

What if there is no entry survey?  

In the absence of an entry survey, the burden of proof lies with the landlord. At the time of exit the tenant will then in fact be entitled to assume that the property is in the same state as it was at the time of entry. As a result, the landlord cannot hold the tenant liable for any damage to the rental property, unless the landlord can prove that the damage was actually done by the tenant.  

Who prepares the survey?  

The landlord and tenant can draw up the survey together (onderhands – à l’amiable), to keep it simple and to avoid extra costs.

Alternatively one or both parties can ask for an independent professional surveyor or expert to be called in to do the survey. This usually is done to avoid discussion between tenant and landlord, but obviously means extra costs.

 How to prepare a survey?  

It is important to work systematically. Start in the same place in every room so that you don't miss anything. Describe the room, for example starting with the ceiling, then the walls, doors and windows and ending with the floor covering.

State everything that is defective, damaged, poorly maintained, worn or dirty. Also make an inventory of everything that is available in the furnished rooms such as kitchen and bathroom. A sketch or photos can be added.

Also consider the general installations: heating, electricity, water and gas. Try all water taps and drains. If gas, electricity and/or water are disconnected at the time of the survey then state explicitly that it was impossible to check the operation of certain appliances and taps.

Don’t forget to take the meter readings for electricity, gas and water.

In case the survey is done by an external expert, you have one month to add written comments.

Whether you are tenant or landlord, never sign if you do not agree with what is described!

How much does a survey cost?

If the landlord and tenant simply draw up the survey together at the start of the lease, it costs nothing.

The price of an independent expert depends on the size of the building, but count on 300-400 EUR and up.  The costs are shared 50/50 by tenant and landlord.

If the landlord and the tenant do not agree on the choice of expert, they can each appoint their own (costs are not shared in that case).