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Member of the Bar of Dendermonde since 2013. Dutch, English and French. (Click picture for more information)

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The Breyne Act

Consumer protection in construction law

Problem statement: I wish to build a private home / renovate my existing private home. What protection can I enjoy as a consumer?


As a builder of a house or buyer of a house to be built, you will in a number of cases be able to rely on the housing law of 9 July 1971, better known as the Breyne act. This act provides extensive protection in various areas, which will be discussed briefly here below.

It should be emphasized, that the Breyne act will only apply in a number of cases and is therefore limited in its scope. The act cannot be applied to every construction or purchase of a home. For example, there are a number of conditions that must be met before the protective measures provided for in the Breyne act can take effect:

Finally, a number of strict liabilities are also laid down:

Violations of the provisions regarding liability or financial protection (articles 3-6 and 8-11 of the act) will not give rise to nullity of the agreement or the clause, but the clauses that are contrary to the law will be seen as unwritten and thus invalid.

The Housing Act does not provide for a term within which the buyer can invoke the sanction, which implies that this sanction could still be invoked, even if the agreement between the parties has been fully implemented.

It is also important to know that this act is mandatory so that contractors cannot deviate from these protective measures and therefore opt for less protection.

Despite all these protective measures, some caution is still recommended when concluding contracts. After all, it goes without saying that contractors prefer not to have to deal with an application of the Breyne act and often attempts are made to circumvent the law by working with intermediaries or by dividing the project over different contracts.

It is advisable to conclude a contract with a company that has the necessary experience and a good reputation. It may be important to check whether the firm you are contracting with is the holder of the Housing Builders Charter. This indicates that the company complies with the obligations under the Breyne Act and is nevertheless an indication of the reliability of the contractor. Some case law protects when the company-contractor is declared bankrupt and who has not provided a completion guarantee, and even retains the error (pre-contractual error) and thus the personal responsibility of the directors (Court of Appeal Brussels, 4.9.2018, TBO 2019, p. 57) .

Current contribution covers in a nutshell the main concerns of the Breyne Act and has been prepared practically so that it can be used as a guide in auditing contracts drafted by your contractor.