The use of asbestos was banned in Belgium in 2001, but it is estimated that some 2.3 million tons of asbestos can still be found in our Flemish buildings and infrastructure. By 2040, Flanders wants to be completely asbestos-free, which is why the Flemish government worked out a number of rules in the Asbestos Decree in early 2019 to map the amount of asbestos in our buildings and gradually make buildings and infrastructure completely asbestos safe. One of the measures that, according to OVAM, is already planned for 2022 is a mandatory asbestos certificate for the sale of real estate.
General duty of care for all
At the federal level, there has already been an obligation since 1995 for every employer to draw up an asbestos inventory for all buildings where they employ staff, regardless of the year of construction, as well as for schools, crèches and municipal buildings.
Pursuant to the Asbestos Decree, a general duty of care is now imposed on anyone who "manages" materials containing asbestos. As the owner, user or lessee of a construction containing asbestos, one is thus obliged to take all measures that can reasonably be taken to limit the danger to people or the environment.
Prohibitions on asbestos-containing roofs and facades
The Asbestos Decree also provides for a number of specific prohibitions. For example, it prohibits:
- attach structures (e.g., solar panels, overhang roofs, advertising panels, etc.) to or over asbestos-containing roofs or facades;
- Enclose or cover asbestos-containing roofs or facades with another material;
- Cleaning or de-icing asbestos-containing roofs or facades.
In addition, the decree maker also implements a specific information obligation for owners who wish to sell or rent their property. Every owner of an accessible construction built in 2000 and older (risk construction year) must provide an asbestos inventory certificate to the buyer/tenant.
This specific information obligation normally only enters into force on a date to be determined by the Flemish Government and is therefore not yet applicable today.
On the website of OVAM  it can be read, however, that already in the course of 2022, an asbestos inventory will be mandatory in the sale of real estate.
The decree also imposes the aforementioned information obligation on those who do not immediately intend to sell/rent. By 31 December 2031 at the latest, every owner of a building with a risk construction year must have a valid asbestos inventory certificate. When renting out, the owner who has an asbestos certificate will be required to provide a copy to the (new) tenants.
Only a certified asbestos expert will be able to perform an asbestos inventory for a valid asbestos certificate. The expert reports the inspection data via an OVAM web application. On this basis, the OVAM issues an asbestos certificate. OVAM estimates that the preparation of such an inventory will cost +/- 350 € for an average house, on top of which OVAM will be entitled to charge a fee of +/- 35 EUR for the delivery of the certificate itself.
Toward an asbestos-safe 2040
Because the Flemish Government also aims to accelerate the removal of materials containing asbestos, it wants to see all asbestos applications removed from Flemish buildings and homes by 2040 at the latest. For the time being, this removal obligation only applies to government buildings and infrastructure. Private individuals and private owners are not yet obliged to remove asbestos applications, but it is expected that this obligation will be introduced in the future.
If you wish to remove asbestos anyway, you must call in a licensed asbestos removal contractor if it concerns non-adhesive asbestos applications. Asbestos that has been bonded can be removed by oneself or one can call upon a contractor with a training certificate for "simple actions".
Should one be worrying about asbestos applications in the home right now? In principle not, but if you plan to sell your home, then there is a good chance that from 2022 onwards, in addition to an EPC certificate, electrical inspection, etc., the asbestos certificate will also be a requirement and therefore may also have an impact on the price. To be continued...
If you would like to know what impact this might have on you, please do not hesitate to contact us. Do you have additional questions about this? You can always reach us at 051 26 82 68 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Decree amending various provisions of Title X of the Decree of 5 April 1995 laying down general provisions on environmental policy and the Decree of 23 December 2011 on the sustainable management of material cycles and waste materials