Could lodging alternatives such as Airbnb have an impact on the Belgian real estate market?

Airbnb has definitely brought some opportunities for travellers and owners. In case you wish to travel somewhere for a couple of days, you could benefit from Airbnb bargains compared to what you would pay for a two or three-star hotel. In case you leave your home for two weeks in summer, subletting it on Airbnb will also provide you with pocket money, which could be useful while you’re travelling.

Even the multi home owners may use Airbnb. A night in Brussels on Airbnb costs about EUR 100, while renting a two-bedroom flat in Brussels costs more than EUR 700 per month. It’s clear that one can earn a very significant amount of money on a monthly basis if you sublet your flat or home on Airbnb. And it will also be fine with your temporary tenants, as they can have fun in Brussels for a reasonable price.

But it’s worth having a look at the other side of the coin. What could be the negative effects in the long run?

First of all, although you definitely should deal with the thousands of tourists who come to Brussels every year, as it will never change; some residents complain about the disturbances that can occur in some traditional non-touristic hoods. It’s however not a big deal, and surely not the most problematic issue.

It is then an issue for the hotels and hostels, as the expected turnover will surely keep on decreasing over the next years.


Brussels Grand Place


But this is not the end of the story. While all the 19 communes are affected by the Airbnb effect (more than 7,900 ads at the end of July), the impact on the accommodations might be a big issue over the upcoming years. If owners get more money with Airbnb plans, they might be tempted to sublet their homes to short-term travellers, which means the potential permanent tenants might be forced to look for other places outside Brussels. And due to supply and demand forces, rent prices would go up.

It seems that the impact on prices is not a huge problem (yet) in Brussels, in comparison with other capitals or very touristic cities in Europe. The local authorities also need concrete statistics with regard to the impact on the permanent population and a potential “outflow”.

It is therefore not about banning “alternative” ways of travelling. It is about having different perspectives when it comes to expressing views about Airbnb.