A construction violation: what are the consequences for your property?

We are often asked whether a certain act constitutes a building violation. This often concerns works that have already been carried out and for which the question arises afterwards whether a permit was required. Or that upon further investigation, it is concluded that a permit should have been applied for after all. Linked to this is usually the question of the consequences of the construction violation. For example, whether one can be obliged to demolish the building or close the swimming pool again.

When is there a construction violation?

In principle, a building violation occurs when something was built without a permit or not in accordance with the plan. Any deviation from the plan, however limited, basically qualifies as a building violation. For example, there will be a building violation if you have made the swimming pool larger than permitted. Or, for example, when you have turned a terrace into a covered veranda.

Changing the function of a building without permission is also a building violation in certain cases. For example, you may not simply convert an old farmhouse into a B&B or turn a house into a shop premises. Also, the possibilities of a zoned property limited.

You can read the rules for adding to an existing house here.

My property is subject to a building violation: now what?

If it appears that there is a construction violation, you have three options:

  • modifying the building to be in line with the plans.
  • Apply for a licence to regularise the construction violation.
  • do nothing and not regularise the construction violation.

However, the latter option is less and less appropriate. After all, this way the building violation remains and you may be sanctioned for it sooner or later. You may also encounter problems later when you apply for a permit for other works. Or when you want to sell the building. After all, the buyer can always use the presence of a building violation to depress the price.

More information on what to look out for when buying property with a construction violation can be found here.

Can I be required to demolish or modify the building?

Yes this is possible. There are several options for this in legislation. For instance, the government can oblige you to carry out construction or adaptation works by means of a procedure before the court. This can even be done on pain of a penalty per day that you have not carried out the works after a certain period of time. Sometimes such court proceedings are not even necessary and you can be enjoined without having to go to court first. In the latter case, however, you can appeal this decision to the Flemish Government.

It is also always possible for your neighbour to file a claim with the court. For example, if they are inconvenienced by the construction violation. Again, the court may order demolition or alteration works.

Find more information about challenging an environmental permit here.

Niels Vansimpsen explains

Decision: a construction violation and the consequences erva

From the moment you carry out works without a permit or not in accordance with the approved plan, it is basically a building violation. The consequences are often financial: your property is worth less money. There can also be more drastic consequences, for example the obligation to carry out demolition or adaptation works. Therefore, regularisation of a building violation is appropriate.

Find more information on the regularisation of a construction violation here.

Do you have questions about a construction violation and its impact on your property? Or are you thinking of regularisation proceedings? If so, please feel free to contact with our environmental law lawyer.

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