Are Home Viewings Allowed?

IPI/BIV contests government guidelines

UPDATE NOVEMBER 17th: It appears private individuals may now view properties, providing no one else is on site at the time.

The lockdown instated on Monday November 2nd has called for all non-essential businesses to close. The list of allowed commercial activities is more extensive than during the first lockdown, but under the current governmental guidelines property viewings, and entry and exit surveys are forbidden.

As your professional body we must advise you to err on the side of caution. Nobody wins when it comes to legal action.

The IPI/BIV contested this ruling at the Council of State (Raad van State/Conseil d’État) on November 12th but the case was rejected on November 14th (FR / NL). Please take careful note of the information shared below as we have heard reports of fines up to €2000 for those found in breach of regulations.

From a strictly legal point of view, physical visits for home searches and/or surveys are not authorized as we are currently under lockdown. In practice, some real estate agencies are still conducting visits (dependent on region) and others are only doing virtual visits. We understand that each case is different, but we strongly advise you to postpone house hunts until the matter has been resolved. The Colour Code Protocol published by the Flemish Ministry of Housing appears to be the safest (and clearest) guideline to follow until further notice.

Many industries – including home cleaning services, removal services and real estate services – have published guides to safely resuming business post-lockdown and the measures outlined here should be followed at all times. However, keep in mind that these guides were written with a loosening of restrictions in mind. Measures include maintaining a safe distance, hygiene precautions and minimising the number of people in a space at any given time.

Tuesday 17th November brings yet another update: it would appear that you can view a property now as a private individual and providing there is no one else in the property (FR / NL).

Official Government Position
Toegelaten Economische Activiteiten (webpage)
Gids Opening Handel (PDF)
Activités Économiques Autorisées (webpage)
Guide Ouverture Commerces (PDF)

Ministry of Housing (Flanders)
Colour Code Protocol (PDF)

IPI/BIV Position
Impact van COVID-19 op je kantoor (webpage)
Impact du COVID-19 sur votre agence (webpage)

Individual Sector Guides
Real Estate Industry (PDF)
Moving Industry (PDF)
Cleaning Services (PDF)

Generic Guide
Safety at Work

For your interest, the following is the IPI/BIV’s take on current governmental guidelines. This reasoning has, however, been rejected. Home viewings are not authorised under the current lockdown.

May I open my office?

Under Article 6(3) of the MB of 1-11-2020, companies offering services to consumers are closed to the public. Intermediaries and stewards have to work behind closed doors in their real estate offices. Teleworking is compulsory unless this is impossible due to the nature of the job.

Site visits and place descriptions are allowed, as there is no ban on non-essential movements. The sector advises restricting a place visit to a maximum of 2 visitors at a time, in addition to the real estate agent. Respect the sector guide at all times!

We have made an informative film for consumers about the course of the physical site visits. In it, we show that the real estate agent takes all precautions and protective measures to ensure that the site visit runs as smoothly and safely as possible.

Which measures do I need to take?
Can home visits, surveys, etc. take place?

Under Article 6(3) of the MB of 1-11-2020, companies offering services to consumers are closed to the public. Intermediaries and stewards have to work behind closed doors in their real estate offices.

Teleworking is compulsory unless this is impossible due to the nature of the job.

Site visits and place descriptions are allowed, as there is no ban on non-essential movements. The sector advises restricting a place visit to a maximum of 2 visitors at a time, in addition to the real estate agent. Respect the sector guide at all times!

In addition, the FPS Economy published the ‘guide to the opening of trade’. The content of this guide can be supplemented in accordance with the guidelines of the National Security Council. This guide also applies to free professional activities without physical contact, see p.7.

Please also note that the Flemish Government approved a protocol for the rental market based on colour codes. The application of the measures is made dependent on the stage of the coronavirus pandemic and is indicated by colour codes ranging from green, over yellow and orange to red. The Minister of Housing determines which colour code applies.

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