31 January 2020

The Property Law Reform Act has just been approved in the Parliament. The draft act will be inserted in the new Civil Code as Book 3 and will enter into force 18 months after its publication in the Belgian Official Gazette. The act contains entirely new legal provisions regarding property, co-ownership, long lease rights, building rights, usufruct, easements, mortgage publicity, etc. Book 2 of the Civil Code is repealed, as well as – inter alia – the laws of 1824 on long leases and building rights.

The reform is based on the following main guiding principles:

  • an integrated approach to property law,
  • instrumentalisation of property law,
  • modernisation of property law,
  • flexibilisation of property law, and
  • a comprehensive comparative law approach to property law.

Examples of important changes introduced by this innovative new act include (on a strictly illustrative and thus non-exhaustive basis):

  • general provisions that are common to all rights in rem, including general provisions regarding the creation, termination and transfer of rights in rem;
  • the possibility of registration of additional deeds in the mortgage register (e.g. the purchase option on a property, pre-emption rights, or deeds of succession);
  • the statutory enumeration of the rights in rem, coupled with a provision that the property law is complementary, except for the definitions and the provisions expressly stating that they cannot be derogated from;
  • an encompassing regulation for personal rights and rights in rem on the public domain;
  • statutory rules for voluntary co-ownership and its termination;
  • a separate title devoted to neighbour relations, which includes and simplifies rules on neighbour nuisance, shared separations and easements;
  • extension of the maximum duration of building rights to 99 years and under certain exceptional circumstances even in perpetuity,
  • a maximum duration of usufruct for legal entities of 99 years, and
  • a minimum duration of long lease rights of 15 years.

The reform was prepared by a ministerial working group, composed of Prof. Dr. Vincent Sagaert (Of Counsel at Eubelius and Professor at KU Leuven) and Prof. Dr. Pascale Lecocq (ULiège).

Our Real Estate team will be happy to provide further information and answer any questions you may have about the new Property Law.