Slum landlords jailed and fined 3.8m euros for renting out substandard housing

A father and son have been jailed for 40 months and fined almost 4 million euros for renting substandard properties. After two postponements, the verdict in the trial of the Appeltans family was pronounced in the Leuven correctional court on Tuesday.

The family was convicted of slum renting and violations of the Flemish Housing Code but acquitted of gang affiliation. Father Arnold and son Manu Appeltans have been fined 1.92 million euros each and must repay 695,000 and 697,000 euros of rent respectively. 

Mother Lizzy S received a one-year suspended jail sentence, and the family company nv Arlimo must pay a fine of 1.56 million euros. Lizzy S must pay a fine of 768,000 euros and repay almost 695,000 euros in rent income. Rental income from nv Arlimo was also forfeited, amounting to more than 217,000 euros, and six properties were forfeited.

Unannounced visits

“They themselves lived in wealth and luxury, but they did not grant the occupants good housing,” the judge said. 

Most of the premises were declared uninhabitable. Manu and Arnold would have been aware of the serious defects, as they regularly visited the properties to collect rent, often unannounced, and they received repeated complaints.

"They themselves lived in wealth and luxury, but they did not grant the occupants good housing"

Some properties were so neglected that there were degrading conditions of dampness and mould, leaking pipes, mice, the risk of explosions, faeces on stairs and broken heaters in winter. 

The public prosecutor’s office launched an investigation into the family in 2018. Following the tightening of legislation around rentals, they began focusing on renting to vulnerable tenants such as refugees. Further inspection revealed 51 of the 56 properties were not habitable. A total of 96 people were affected, including many students.

Manu Appeltans handled contact with tenants, although Arnold was also often present during home visits. Arnold allegedly set up the empire, with Manu “slavishly” following. Manu’s lawyer said the court should not blame him for the fact that too many tenants lived in the premises without his knowledge, creating the poor conditions. The court did not accept that argument. 


#FlandersNewsService | File image © BELGA PHOTO SISKA GREMMELPREZ

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