A father and son have been sentenced to 40 months in jail and fined nearly €4 million for renting out substandard properties. After two postponements, the verdict

against the Appeltans family was delivered in the Leuven correctional court on Tuesday.

The family was found guilty of slum renting and violations of the Flemish Housing Code, though they were acquitted of gang affiliation. Father Arnold and son Manu Appeltans were each fined €1.92 million and ordered to repay €695,000 and €697,000 in rent, respectively.

Mother Lizzy S received a one-year suspended jail sentence, and the family company nv Arlimo was fined €1.56 million. Lizzy S was also fined €768,000 and must repay nearly €695,000 in rent income. Additionally, rental income from nv Arlimo, amounting to over €217,000, was forfeited, along with six properties.

Unannounced Visits

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

Most of the properties were declared uninhabitable. Manu and Arnold Appeltans were aware of the serious defects, as they frequently visited the properties to collect rent, often unannounced, and received numerous complaints.

Degrading Conditions

Some properties were in such poor condition that tenants faced issues like dampness, mold, leaking pipes, mice infestations, risk of explosions, faeces on stairs, and broken heaters during winter.

The public prosecutor’s office launched an investigation into the family in 2018. Following stricter rental legislation, the family began targeting vulnerable tenants, such as refugees. Inspections revealed that 51 of the 56 properties were uninhabitable, affecting a total of 96 people, including many students.

Manu Appeltans was primarily responsible for tenant relations, although Arnold was often present during visits. Arnold allegedly established the operation, with Manu "slavishly" following. Manu’s lawyer argued that he should not be blamed for overcrowded premises, which led to the poor conditions. However, the court rejected this argument.