Reform of the Real Estate Agent Act: key points of the Act of 21 December 2017

Reform of the Real Estate Agent Act: key points of the Act of 21 December 2017

On 22 January 2018, the Act amending the Act of 11 February 2013 organising the profession of real estate agent was published in the Belgian Official Journal.

The objectives of this law are to provide greater transparency for consumers and further professionalise the profession of real estate agent. We review the most important points below.

More transparent disciplinary procedure

The law makes a number of changes in the disciplinary procedure for the Beroepsinstituut van Vastgoedmakelaars (the "BIV", Professional Institute of Real Estate Agents). For example, the possibility is given to request a review of the decision if a complaint was dropped without result by the judicial assessor. A judicial assessorate-general is set up to conduct such a review.   

In addition, the procedure’s transparency is increased. The provisional measures taken and (at least the enacting terms of) the disciplinary decisions will be automatically provided to the complainant. Certain disciplinary decisions will also be published on the website of the BIV.    

Legal anchoring of designated accounts

The use of a third-party account and a sub-account now becomes legally mandatory for real estate agents also. This is designed to achieve a clearer separation between the private assets and the professional assets of the real estate agent. 

Greater authority of BIV

Finally, the BIV can ask a judge for protective measures against dishonest agents. This too should ensure better consumer protection and improve the sector´s image. For example, the BIV can ask the judge to block access to the account containing the third-party funds. The judge can appoint a provisional receiver who, while awaiting a decision, temporarily assumes the management tasks of the building manager in order to protect the co-owners.

The new regulation enters into force as of 1 February 2018. However, the provisions concerning third-party funds and the designated account will only enter into force as of 1 August 2018.

For more information on this topic, you can consult Christine Heeb and Julie Colpaert (authors).