From 23 November this year, it will be mandatory to have an asbestos certificate when selling a home built before 2001 in Flanders, the government announced on Wednesday.
Anyone selling a house more than 21 years old will have to provide proof that the house is asbestos-safe based on an expert report.
As part of the Flanders government's 2018 Asbestos Reduction Action Plan, a campaign called attention to the need for the certificate from November 2022. The certificate can be requested from 1 July and contains information about asbestos in the house.
"Asbestos is a major problem that we carry with us from the past and that has still not gone away," Ann Cuyckens from the Public Waste Agency of Flanders (OVAM) said. An estimated 2.3 million tonnes of asbestos are currently present in Flemish buildings, 865,000 tonnes of which are in private homes.
"An asbestos certificate does not always have to mean that the asbestos present also has to be removed. Removal is only necessary if the presence of the asbestos poses a risk."
This is the case when asbestos applications have an increased risk of releasing fibres. Damage, ageing or weathering can cause this.
Breathing in asbestos fibres increases the risk of several serious diseases, including lung cancer. Exposure to asbestos can increase the risk of cancers of the digestive system.
Process for certificate
After requesting the certificate, an asbestos expert will visit the property to carry out a visual inspection and assessment, taking samples if necessary and consulting supporting documents.
Based on the report, the OVAM issues a unique asbestos certificate for each property with a statement about the asbestos safety of the house. This will include advice on how to manage or remove the asbestos. This will be added to the notarial deed when the house is sold or rented.
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The Asbestos Reduction Action Plan comprises various measures to make Flanders asbestos safe by 2040. Only non-risky asbestos applications may then still be present in a building as part of this plan.
Removing asbestos safely and correctly can be costly, which is why the Flanders Government offers support measures to private individuals, companies, local authorities and various other target groups.