In Belgium, as a seller of real estate, you are required to attach a series of certificates to the deed of sale: a soil certificate, an energy performance certificate (EPC), an inspection certificate for the electrical installation, and so on. This is intended to provide future buyers with sufficient information so that they are not faced with hidden defects later on. An asbestos inventory will normally also be included from mid-2022.
Asbestos is not only a problem in houses built before the 1970s and 1980s. Even houses that were built in the late 1980s and early 1990s have a good chance of containing asbestos. It is often difficult to recognise the presence of asbestos because it was often very well concealed during renovation work. Even a recent renovation does not always guarantee that a house is actually asbestos-free.
In Flanders, we are therefore struggling with historical asbestos pollution. Naturally, this asbestos must be decontaminated if we are to achieve the 2040 objectives. Roofs, gutters and pipes made of asbestos cement will not remain intact forever. In fact, the rate at which roofing, for example, weathers increases with age. Years of exposure to the natural elements reduce the bonding properties of the asbestos cement. Asbestos fibres become loose on both sides of the surface of a slate or corrugated sheet, penetrating the ground via the rainwater and contaminating the soil around the house. Even worse are the fibres that remain loose and have a very negative impact on the air quality in the house.
Flanders now really wants to work towards the deadline of Flanders Asbestos Safe by 2040 and is planning to include the asbestos inventory in the necessary documents when selling a house. This is a good thing, because an inventory is not compulsory today and you therefore run the risk of buying a house containing asbestos. Of course, having asbestos professionally removed by a recognised company comes at a price. That price is a minus value on a property that has just been purchased. It is possible that this reduced value is a hidden defect and can therefore be recovered from the seller. A risk that can easily be prevented with an asbestos inventory. Just as the buyer is informed about other properties of the house through, for example, the electrical inspection certificate and the soil certificate. So have your asbestos inventory drawn up on time and don’t be faced with any surprises.