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Selling a building that predates 2001? Not without the asbestos certificate

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Are you the owner of a building located in the Flemish Region whose construction dates from before 2001 and you wish to transfer it? Then, as of November 23, 2022, you are required to have an asbestos inventory drawn up in order to obtain an asbestos certificate.


Now what is that?

By 2040, Flanders wants to be asbestos-safe, so it is developing a set of rules to make Flemish buildings asbestos-safe step by step. Read more about this in our earlier article.

One step in this direction is to make an asbestos certificate mandatory when transferring homes and other buildings (office building, government building, etc.) located in the Flemish Region, with a year of construction before 2001 and which have a surface area of 20m² or more.

If your building meets these conditions, then as seller/transferor you will have to call upon a certified asbestos expert who will come and make an asbestos inventory of your building. After collecting the necessary information and a site visit, the expert will submit his findings to OVAM and request a certificate. Upon receipt, he will deliver this certificate and you, as owner, will be able to consult it yourself via the housing pass.

The asbestos attestation informs you as the owner about which materials may contain asbestos and provides advice on how to remove them safely. This attestation is valid for ten years.


Where do I find an asbestos expert, how much does such an attestation cost and most importantly, how long does it take?

Retrieved from the website of the Flemish government you can consult a list of certified asbestos experts.

The asbestos expert is free to determine the price of the asbestos inventory but must follow the guidelines set for this purpose. Most experts charge between 400 EUR and 500 EUR, but this price can be higher as it also depends on the size of the house and the number of samples that the expert needs to take.

The duration time of requesting such inspection depends mainly on the areas to be examined. It is estimated that the inspection itself requires about 3 hours, but the time between requesting the certificate and obtaining it is not known at present. So timely involvement of an asbestos expert is the message here.


From when and in what cases?

The asbestos certificate is required for all private sale agreements as well as (reciprocal) promises of sale and purchase signed as of November 23, 2022. If the sales agreement is signed before November 23, 2022, then no asbestos certificate is required even if the deed is executed after November 23, 2022.

If there is no prior private agreement but you proceed immediately to the notarial deed, then the obligation applies to notarial deeds that are pasted from November 23, 2022.

The obligation applies not only to the sale of a building but also to other transfers of real estate such as the establishment or transfer of a long lease or superficies, the establishment of a usufruct, the contribution to a company, a gift, a merger or division in which the real estate passes from one company to another, etc.

By analogy with the private sale agreement, an asbestos certificate must be present when a proposal for merger or division is signed if the proposal is dated after Nov. 23, 2022; if the proposal is dated before Nov. 23, 2022, an asbestos certificate should not be available even if the deed is executed after Nov. 23, 2022.

When property passes through inheritance, no asbestos certificate is required.

If you own an apartment, then you must only have an asbestos certificate relating to the apartment itself. Asbestos certificates will not be required for the common parts until May 1, 2025.


What if asbestos is present?

If it turns out that asbestos is indeed present in your building, there is no obligation today to actually remove the asbestos. The asbestos certificate merely wishes to inform and advise you (for the time being). Note: there is already an obligation to remove the asbestos for governments and public authorities.


What if you don't have an asbestos certificate prepared?

If there is no asbestos certificate before it, the person acquiring can claim the nullity of the transfer.


What will the future bring?

Furthermore, the government provides that by December 31, 2031 at the latest, every owner of a property in the Flemish Region whose building year predates 2001 must be able to submit an asbestos certificate, regardless of any lease, sale or other transfer. As a landlord of a property built before 2001, you must therefore have an asbestos certificate as of 2032 and you will have to be able to present a copy to your tenant.


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