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Parlez Vous? Reading Rental Contracts in French

By - March 11, 2008 (Updated: November 28, 2014)


When I enrolled in French immersion in Junior High school, I never could have predicted that I’d be using skills learned then to translate rental contracts in Brussels at age 31. (For that matter when I took journalism in university I never expected to be writing articles about living in Belgium either.)

The past month or so though, I’ve learned a lot of new French words that didn’t appear in my text books in grade 7 – Bailleur, Preneur, Election de domicile, Avis d’échéance… well you get the idea. In fact, because I’ve been so immersed in rental land, I’ve stumbled across some very useful websites regarding renting in Belgium, which I will post in the About Belgium section.

Up till now, I haven’t mentioned our rental adventures much on the blog because, frankly, I didn’t want to jinx it. I still don’t, but since this is a record of our life in Belgium, I guess I should record it.

So to back-track a bit, on my birthday, Andrew and I decided to put an offer on an apartment in Brussels. Our initial offer wasn’t accepted and we had to decide if we wanted to pay the full asking price or not. These decisions are always so stressful to me –do you stick with the current apartment that is very good in just about all respects but is a little more than you want to pay, or do you hold out for something cheaper that may never come along and kick yourself for losing the first place… In the end we decided to go for it.

So you’d think that would be pretty much it – sign some papers and we’re all good. Well, there still has been no signing which is why I’ve been holding off on writing. It took quite a while for us to even see a contract (Belgians and paperwork, you know). When we finally received it, it was just a standard document that had some major items missing.

As of Monday, we have the revised contract (hence my French contract reading skills) and are making sure that everything else is ok. I don’t know when we will actually physically be signing it, but I hope it’s soon. I hate being in limbo.

When (or perhaps I should say if) it is signed, I’ll give some more details and post some pictures. Until then, cross your fingers and send us happy signing vibes.

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Alison Cornford-Matheson
Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
Alison Cornford-Matheson
- 3 months ago
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