BBF started providing serviced apartments in Brussels from 1992.
The intention was to offer international institutions and multinationals based in and around Brussels a solution to accommodate their foreign staff, for a longer period (a minimum period of two weeks).
Included in these serviced apartments rental packages are services such as cleanings, technical support in the apartment and a team that takes care of the rental process and assists the resident during their stay.
From the start this type of housing has proved to be an ideal solution for expats and business travelers who come to Brussels. A serviced apartment is furnished and offers privacy, a larger living space and an installed kitchen that gives the tenant the opportunity to cook whatever he likes.
Furthermore the hassle that often relates to renting an apartment from private owners in the conventional way is non-existent:
BBF takes care of finding the right accommodation in the right location before the resident’s arrival. There are no headaches in having to connect all utilities with the right authorities as the apartment is ready to move in. Also all apartments are situated in dedicated apartment buildings so that colleagues are not too remotely seperated and an undergound parking is available in the same building.
The ASAP (Association of Serviced Apartments Providers) accreditation seal ensures that an in-house quality assessment process designed to ensure core compliance with legal health and safety requirements, good practice, and a measurement and comparison system for quality of services is carried out every year.
These are the assets that made BBF into the market leader of serviced apartment providers with more than 1600 units in Brussels.
But one may question whether the term serviced apartments is well understood between the broader public and within the Brussels Region. It seems that the terms serviced apartments, corporate housing, extended stays are not yet well defined product names in a fairly new industry. But a fact is that it’s a fast growing industry worldwide.
Recently the Brussels Region set some new regulations that apply to Airbnb because they consider them as unfair competition for the hotel sector. Most of all because some of the apartments they provide via their platform aren’t compliant with the requirements imposed by the tourism accommodation board. In short, Airbnb allows private owners to rent their apartment via their online platform.
Due to this new regulation( the law on tourist housing) every person not staying more than 90 days in the Brussels Region is defined as a tourist. Also international professionals who need to stay less than 90 days for work reasons are considered “tourists”.
Although the average duration of stay at BBF has always been around 5 months and leases are rarely shorter than 1 month, because of the corporate nature of our clients (that make out 99% of our business revenue), these new regulations have as effect that we will not be able to meet the demand if these clients want to accommodate some of their employees for a shorter period.
The sound from many of our corporate clients and partners is that there aren’t many alternatives. Accommodating someone in a hotel for 1 month is too expensive and accommodation in a private apartment too labor-intensive and unpractical.
On the whole one might question whether the decision of the 90 days minimum period has not been drawn too drastically. The serviced apartments industry in Europe is experiencing similar obstacles from some groups who have an economical interest in order to ensure such regulations. One might ask whether these regulations have been well considered at local level and what the implications are to the economy of the city.
The more as Brussels thrives on the benefits of certain indispensable international institutes such as the European Commission and NATO and all the related organizations that make a big contribution to the economy with an important and a not negligible expat community.
As a next step BBF would like to take the lead with other serviced apartments providers in Brussels that fall under this new legislation, to consolidate the industry. This could be achieved under the umbrella of an organization such as asap, which today is one of the most important organizations together with CHPA (Corporate Housing Providers Association), representing the interests of the serviced apartments industry worldwide.