IWEPS, which is the statistical authority for Wallonia, conducted its study, the first of its kind, by comparing announcements on Immoweb with lease-registration data so as to do a detailed analysis of the residential lease market in Belgium.
The analysis showed that rent for small cheap housing, often meant for the neediest households, increased faster than rents for more expensive, more spacious accommodation. In Wallonia, the average price for a one-bedroom apartment on Immoweb went up by 14% between 2006 and 2016, whereas it dropped by 11% for homes with at least four bedrooms.
Rental prices on the leasing market (advertisements and new leases) are also much higher than the rentals currently being paid by tenants (existing leases) and than social allowances, the study found.
“This can explain the distress, reported by associations, of poor people who, at a given time, need to find housing,” IWEPS noted.
The statistical authority also found differences in rental prices from one geographical area to the next. “When you factor in the effect of housing types, you have the impression that the difference between centre and periphery has a greater incidence on prices that income levels,” IWEPS explained. “Rents are higher in poor, central communes than in rich communes in the suburbs.”
This could lead low-income populations to leave city centres, especially Brussels, and head for the suburbs.