Jana Verstraete, Pascal De Decker and Diederik Vermeir
The EU Survey of Income and Living Conditions (SILC) 2012 shows 0.27 per cent of the Belgian population had moved in the preceding five-year period because of an eviction. Regrettably, with this record, Belgium ranks in third place for the highest rate of evictions among the 28 countries of the European Union. Despite this ranking, the extent and nature of evictions remain a blind spot in Belgium. Twenty years ago, a ‘General Report on Poverty’ criticized the lack of official data on the number of evictions. In 2005, the same critique was raised by the research agency charged with alleviating poverty, social insecurity, and social exclusion. After yet another decade, not much has changed. Data on the matter is both limited and fragmented. Hence, a clear picture of the number of evictions, the profile of those evicted, and the housing paths following an eviction is indeterminate. In this contribution, an attempt is made to consolidate existing data and to shed light on this phenomenon. As a background to the research, the chapter starts with a brief discussion of the Belgian housing market and Belgian housing policies. Thereafter an overview of the different eviction procedures that apply for different situations is provided including: judicial procedures to evict owner-occupiers, social and private renters, and squatters; temporary dispossessions in the case of family disputes and administrative eviction procedures related to housing quality. The chapter then elaborates on the judicial eviction of both owner-occupiers and renters. A discussion on the extent of the problem for these tenure types as well as the profile of those involved, their rehousing trajectories and risk factors for evictions is then provided. An outline of a limited number of ‘good practices’ in preventing evictions or in mitigating its harmful consequences is presented. The chapter concludes with some final observations on the issue.