Right of Public Administration for vacant dwellings, Brussels-Capital Region


Right of Public Administration for vacant dwellings, Brussels-Capital Region

Mismatches Vulnerable groups Vacant housing
Policies and regulations Local policies Regulation Global frameworks
Ownership and tenure

Main objectives of the project

Since 2003, Brussels have the "Right of Public Administration". This allows municipal authorities to manage and renovate vacant private properties, renting them out at reduced rates. Reforms in 2022 aimed to enhance this system, requiring owners to reimburse costs and ensure affordable rent for low-income households.


  • 2003: Implementation
  • 2022: Implementation


  • Brussels-Capital Region


Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Belgium, Brussels


Brussels is taking the problem of vacant housing seriously. In Brussels, leaving a residential property vacant for over 12 months is illegal, with hefty fines enforced by dedicated units. They also do have incentives for refurbishment by the private, such as RENOLUTION. Yet, since 2003, legislation in the Brussels-Capital Region of Belgium has granted the "Right of Public Administration" (Le droit de gestion publique) for vacant dwellings. This grants municipal authorities the authority to temporarily assume management of unoccupied or dilapidated housing, facilitating renovation if necessary, and subsequently renting it out at a reduced below-market rate for a nine-year period. All associated costs are covered through the rent collected. This right can be exercised voluntarily with the property owner's agreement or forcibly if the owner fails to take steps to restore the property.

In 2022, the Regional Parliament undertook reforms to the Right of Public Administration system. The aim was to rejuvenate the program, clarify certain aspects, and bolster others. Changes include stipulations that the property owner can reclaim the property from the municipality or the current managing entity only after fully reimbursing all incurred costs associated with bringing the property back into use and its subsequent management. Moreover, owners must commit to charging rent in line with the sub-market rates set by the municipality and make the property available exclusively to eligible low-income households. Regardless of the managing entity, the below-market rent is fixed for nine years following the initiation of the Right of Public Administration.

Nevertheless, the utilization of the Right has been infrequent by public authorities in the Region, at least until recently. This is partly due to the lengthy requisition process, as owners typically rehabilitate the property before reaching the stage where municipal control would be enacted. Thus, it could be inferred that the perceived credible threat of action is adequate in achieving the desired outcome of reducing the quantity of vacant homes.