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Abandonment by the tenant (departure to the wooden bell)

Verified 30 December 2019 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

When all tenants abandon the dwelling (departure at the wooden bell), the lessor must take specific steps to recover it. In the case of an empty rented dwelling, the landlord must first appeal to a judicial officer to declare the abandonment of the dwelling, then refer the matter to the judge to obtain the termination of the lease.

Where there is evidence to suggest to the lessor that the dwelling is abandoned by all its tenants, he shall instruct a bailiff to put them in a position to justify that they occupy the dwelling properly. Without response from the tenant, the bailiff made a statement of abandonment.

Formal notice

The formal notice must be made by bailiff:

Who shall I contact

In the case of unpaid amounts, the formal notice may also be contained within a pay command..

The tenants have a period of 1 month, depending on the service of the notice, to justify themselves to the landlord.

Abandonment report

Without response from the tenants within the 1 month period, the judicial officer can declare the state of abandonment of the dwelling.

In this setting, it can enter the accommodation in the presence of:

  • the mayor of the municipality, a municipal councilor or an authorized municipal agent,
  • a police or gendarmerie authority,
  • or 2 major witnesses not related to the lessor or bailiff.

The bailiff then draws up a report and, if the dwelling appears abandoned, he draws up an inventory of any furniture left on the spot with an indication of their value.

The landlord must refer the matter to the court for protection proceedings query addressed to the court registry on which the dwelling depends:

The query should mention:

  • the identity of the lessor,
  • the lessor's profession,
  • the lessor's home,
  • the nationality of the lessor,
  • the date and place of birth of the lessor,
  • the identity of the tenant and the domicile of the tenant,
  • the subject of the application.

The request must be dated, signed and accompanied by all the supporting documents, including the minutes of the bailiff:

Please note

if the lessor is a legal person (e.g. SCI), the mandatory particulars in the application shall relate to the form, name, registered office and legal representative of the lessor.

The judge decides by order.

If he considers that the request is well founded, he shall:

  • notice the termination of the lease,
  • order the taking over of the premises and decide on the payment request in the event of unpaid payments,
  • means the goods having a market value on the basis of the inventory drawn up by the bailiff,
  • allow their auction.


if he rejects the application, his decision shall be without appeal to the lessor, who shall nevertheless retain the right to initiate a expulsion procedure classic.

The landlord has 2 months to serve, by bailiff, the judge's decision on the tenants (or the last known occupants of the landlord).

After this period, the order that has not been served becomes null and void.

This meaning must obligatorily inform the tenant:

  • the manner in which he may contest the order of the judge (time limit, form and court of competent jurisdiction...),
  • the manner in which he may become acquainted with the documents produced by the lessor,
  • the absence of a possible appeal beyond the legal period for challenge,
  • the possibility to withdraw personal effects within 1 month.

If the service is delivered by hand, the bailiff must also verbally inform the tenant of his rights.

The tenants have 1 month from the service of the order to contest it by declaration delivered or addressed to the court registry.

The parties are then summoned to the hearing by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt.

The court judgment replaces the order.

If the judge finds that the lessor's initial application is unreasonable, the lessor may be ordered to pay a civil fine of up to €10,000..