Renting on Airbnb can be commendable, if you invest

“THEhen we started to rent out my company’s house through Airbnb, the goal was to cover as much as possible of its borrowing costs. The goal is not reached, but clearly this income is a good supplement“, affirms Olivier Tournay. With his company Sandrine, they send for rent every weekend” La Douce Folie “, a house in Oteppe (province of Liège) which can accommodate up to five travelers or” guests “, if you speak. The Airbnb language. The couple, who live in the vicinity of Rixensart, charge 95 euros per night for two people and 15 euros per additional person. Airbnb takes 3% commission. And the income, which they derive mainly from Booking.com , are taxed at the rate of 33%, because Sandrine’s house is in partnership. “We therefore report rental income as company income.“, he explains. Net, the night of rental does not bring them much more than 60 to 70 euros depending on the number of people, an amount from which it is still necessary to withdraw consumption, internet bills, etc. From suddenly, to stay “break-even”, you have to clean, change the sheets and iron yourself. “It’s a lot of work. We would also like to rent the week, but since we manage everything ourselves and we live forty minutes away by car, it is not possible at the moment“, continues Olivier.

La “Douce folie” is located in the province of Liège, 30 km from Durbuy. The house can accommodate up to five people.
© Tomislav Kovacicek

So in fact, we believe when he says that the “primary” objective is not profitability. “We love to take care of people. In less than ten years, we will return to this house and welcome guests. For the moment, our system allows us to get started, while remaining in control. We who people think feel good with us. When they arrive, the fridge and cupboards are stocked with basic necessities. They can replace or put coins in a piggy bank. Some do neither, but in general it goes very well“. Moreover, Olivier and Sandrine do not make an inventory and are generally not present when their hosts leave the accommodation.

Master of the premises

100 €

The price Jean asks for one night in his two-bedroom apartment near Tour et Taxis in Brussels.

And it is not ironic. Jean started renting his apartment between the center of Brussels and Tour et Taxis when he was working abroad. “Nothing ever went away, or at least I never noticed it“, he assures. This independent, active in particular in the organization of events, rents his two-bedroom apartment from 100 euros per night for two people. But it also happens to him to rent one of the two rooms when he is present. “This is what is precious with Airbnb. It is the flexibility and control that we keep over our property. Pendant I have lived in a shared flat for more than ten years. I didn’t want to have someone in my house all the time. Now I choose the moments», Explains this lover of Brussels.



“I lived in a shared apartment for over ten years. I didn’t want to have someone in my house all the time. Now I choose the times.”

My financial income is therefore also very variable. I have already rented my apartment for a year. And sometimes I don’t rent it for a month… The money I earn through Airbnb allows me to manage having a seasonal job. This allows me to reinvest in my apartment and I also had the opportunity to buy a second one., he continues. But to be able to live on it, I must have at least four apartments! However, if you start to have ten rooms, the ‘homestay’ side may disappear. I think people cannot imagine the complexity, organization and flexibility that this requires. Many have given up to return their property to conventional rental“.

Running administrations



“If the legislation becomes even more complex, that will prompt me to quit.”

Especially since since April 2016, if you are a Brussels landlord, your “working” hours are no longer limited to the time spent welcoming, advising travelers, cleaning and ironing before a check in, etc. Brussels ordinance setting the terms and conditions of tourist accommodation and its implementing decree in fact drag landlords into an administrative jungle from which very few have already left. “You must now obtain the agreement of the condominium in which you live, talk a lot with the neighbors, obtain a host of documents from town planning, fire departments, etc. And when you call the administration to ask for a question, she does not seem to know. I had to make a real effort to find the form to fill in to pay the new Brussels tax on Airbnb housing (see box below). between six months and one to put oneself in legal order, even if one is of good will. If the legislation becomes even more complex, that will push me to stop. a hotel, I might as well open a hotel! But that does not interest me , it’s a whole different approach, ”explains Jean.

Jean’s approach is indeed fully in the collaborative and local economy. “I also have the feeling of circumventing the circuit of the general economy where we always want to build and create more. Here, I have room to accommodate travelers, I use it. It is a process that consists of using the resources that already exist. I also shop around a lot to decorate my apartment, I try to do a lot of new things with old ones“.

It is in this context that he joined the “Host in Brussels” project, which aims to make the voice of rental companies heard by politicians and administrations. Its aim is to encourage new entrepreneurial approaches and to support the diversification of the accommodation offer that exists in Brussels. “It is true that in seven years, I improved my offer, I became a little professional. But why does the government want so much to nip the spirit of initiative in the bud, penalize these alternative projects? We lead to play alongside other players, as an economic player in its own right and complementary to the general offer“, he believes.

Between two fires

Another Brussels landlord met part of his workplace at the disposal of travelers. He wishes to remain anonymous. “Authorization is pending. But it is extremely complicated and energy intensive. I have not counted what it costs me in time and energy. But in financial cost, my counter has already reached 1,000 euros. I mainly encounter problems with co-ownership and bringing electricity and fire safety up to standard“, he explains.

Like Olivier and Sandrine in Oteppe, his income – between 800 and 900 euros gross per month – is declared as company income and taxed at 33%. “If I was just doing it for the financial side, it wouldn’t make sense. With an occupancy rate of around 80%, it takes me two hours of work every day, weekends included. And since February, it is also necessary to count the tax of 3 euros per room and per night“, he specifies. And here too, the vagueness seems to reign: in his case, the lessor must he declare to Brussels Taxation to pay his Airbnb tax when he is not authorized to exercise?”When I ask the question, no one can answer me. I’m caught in the crossfire“, he regrets. And yet, no question of abandonment. This independent remains ultra motivated, passionate about human contact and happy to introduce his city to young artists and passing students.

An investment

+ 897 €

Since he rents the second floor of his Brussels house, the water bill of this independent has doubled.

Opening an Airbnb in Brussels therefore sometimes requires a real financial investment. This landlord, who provides the entire second floor of his Schaerbeek house, requested a file in May 2016. “The compliance of gas and electricity took seven months. This cost 750 euros of checks and 1,800 euros to bring them back into conformity. Now, I am still awaiting the authorization of town planning. Everything will depend on the will of our mayor …“, explains this independent (also!) who also wishes to remain anonymous.”It is also necessary to count the consumptions. My water bill has doubled (+897 euros) since I started a little less than a year ago“, he continues.



“The day before an arrival, I have a day and a half of work.”

However, let’s be honest: “at the end of the day, it really pays off. But it remains an additional income, it is my second job“, he specifies. His gross income is between 1,100 and 1,700 euros per month. How does he get there? With only a small week of rental unemployment each month, a price per night of 56 euros for two people (+ 10 euros per additional person) and a single price of 50 euros for cleaning. “I am the one doing it. The day before an arrival, I have a day and a half of work“. We have already experienced better paid work … However, the” do it yourself “component is almost essential in a small Airbnb project. It is only when income becomes more important that one can start to consider outsourcing management (check-in, check-out, cleaning, ironing, accounting, etc.).

airbnb tax in brussels

As the operator of a tourist accommodation type Airbnb in Brussels, you are liable for a tax of 3 euros per room and per night, since February 1.

1. Inscription. As a first step, you must subscribe by completing a questionnaire on the Bruxelles-Fiscalité website, which you will find at the following link: http://fiscalite.brussels/taxe-regionale-sur-les-etablissements-d4hebergement-touristique. If your location already existed before February 1, you have completed until March 4 to do so. If it is a new property, you can one month after opening.

→ Attention: A fine of 1,000 euros may be received in the event of failure to comply with this obligation.

2. Declaration. Then you will have to fill in each month on the same site your monthly declaration (number of rooms occupied, number of nights). You also have a month to do so (until March 31, for example for overnight stays in February).

→ Attention: if you do not do so, the administration will send you a notification of automatic taxation based on a situation of full occupation.

3. Payment. Finally, the administration will send you a monthly request for monthly advance payment.

→ Attention: an increase of 2% is applied in the event of late payment. This payment is called “early” because the real final settlement will take place at the end of the tax cycle (ie on December 31). You will then see a warning statement mentioning the final balance sheet and any remaining balance due.

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