Flemish Region introduces a uniform label for student housing

Currently, Flemish student cities and higher education institutions choose for themselves whether to introduce a student housing label and what its conditions are. A Flemish Region decree (NL: “decreet”) dated 8 March 2024 aims at increasing transparency for students wishing to compare student accommodations (NL: “kot”) by introducing a uniform label for student housing (NL: “kotlabel”) in Flanders.

The date of entry into force will be determined by the Flemish government.

We summarize this new regulation hereafter.

Conditions for the uniform Flemish student housing label

The student housing label shows that a student accommodation meets all the following conditions:

  • Housing quality standards;
  • Fire safety standards;
  • The number of housing units is licensed or deemed licensed in accordance with the Flemish Code of Zoning Law (NL: “Vlaamse Codex Ruimtelijke Ordening”) of 15 May 2009.

Compliance with housing quality standards is evidenced by a certificate of conformity. If the municipality imposes stricter safety and quality standards, the student accommodation must also comply with those. This should then be evidenced by a certificate from the municipality.

Compliance with fire safety standards is evidenced by a fire safety certificate or a certificate from a fire supervisor appointed by the mayor.


Application of the Flemish student housing label by the municipality

A municipality can choose to introduce the Flemish student housing label, but is under no obligation to do so.

However, if the municipality chooses not to apply the Flemish student housing label, it cannot create its own label or exploitation licence.

If the municipality does choose to apply the Flemish student housing label, it must establish this through an ordinance (NL: “verordening”). The municipality cannot impose any additional requirements for issuing or refusing the Flemish student housing label. The Flemish student housing label must therefore be awarded as soon as the accommodation meets the above-mentioned standards. In this way, uniformity is maintained. The municipality can check other aspects, such as energy performance. However, these aspects may not prevent the student housing label from being awarded.

Finally, the municipality can even impose obtaining the Flemish student housing label issued by that municipality as a precondition to be able to rent out or provide student accommodation on its territory. Such “compulsory” student housing label then acts as an exploitation licence. In that case too, the municipality can check additional aspects, which cannot be part of or be an additional condition to the Flemish student housing label or exploitation licence.


Notification requirement

In addition, a notification requirement is introduced for any individual or legal entity offering for rent or providing student accommodation. An order (NL: “besluit”) by the Flemish government will further elaborate this notification requirement.

Thanks to this notification requirement, it will be possible to start monitoring the supply of student accommodation.  Moreover, in the future, it will be possible for students and parents to digitally check which student accommodations have been awarded a student housing label.


Transitional law

The provisions of municipal ordinances that are contrary to the regulations on the Flemish student housing label, will be automatically repealed as from the entry into force of the label.

Student housing labels and exploitation licences issued before the entry into force of the Flemish student housing label will remain valid in accordance with the period of validity determined by municipal ordinance. The student housing labels issued by the city of Leuven from 1 January 2024 until the date the ordinance comes into force, will be converted into a Flemish student housing label by operation of law.

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