15 June 2018

The Apartment Co-ownership Reform Act was adopted in the Chamber of Representatives on 7 June 2018. The act reforms the legal regime for apartment co-ownership in several important respects and makes it more flexible. The amendment was prepared by a ministerial working group chaired by Vincent Sagaert, Of Counsel at Eubelius, and Pascale Lecocq. 

Some examples of important changes include:

  • The possibility to vote by a 4/5 majority on the demolition and reconstruction of the building, if the safety or hygiene of the building is compromised or if the renovation would be disproportionately costly. Accompanying measures are provided for with a view to protecting the co-owners who did not consent to this. They may give up their apartment in exchange for compensation if the cost price of the works exceeds the value of their apartment.
  • The (nuanced) implementation of the "polluter pays" principle: only those who contribute to the charges in the common parts may vote in connection with the common parts. This offers additional possibilities for compartmentalisation of property projects without having to establish partial co-ownership associations. 
  • Downsizing of the bylaws, so that only the division of the building and the obligation to contribute must be included in the bylaws. The other provisions can be inserted in the in-house rules, which have to be updated by the property manager ("syndicus"/"syndic").
  • Exclusive rights of use of common parts are now treated as easements, with the possibility to abolish them, subject to a 4/5 majority and special justification.
  • Various measures facilitating the recovery of contributions, such as (1) an automatic power for the property manager to claim the contributions in court, (2) the granting of a privilege to the association of co-owners, and (3) legal joint liability of the bare owner and the usufructuary of an apartment.
  • Reduction of the 3/4 majority to a 2/3 majority. 
  • A statutory public easement to lay cables and pipelines across the common parts of the apartment building.