Table of Contents
Do you want to practise this activity as a natural person?
In order to setup oneself as an estate agent / If you want to practise this profession in Belgium, you need to meet certain conditions.
What are the conditions for entering the profession?
- not have been deprived of your civil and political rights;
- not have been declared bankrupt without being rehabilitated;
- at the time you request access, not have incurred any of the penalties mentioned in Article 5 § 1 of the law, in Belgium or in another European Union Member State;
- have a qualification that gives access to the profession of estate agent, as mentioned in Article 2 of the Royal Decree of 30 August 2013 on access to the profession of estate agent;
- send your application to be included on the list of trainees to the President of the IPI Executive Chamber;
- take a skills test organised or approved by the IPI;
- satisfactorily complete a professional practice traineeship as a self-employed worker that covers a period of between 12 and 36 months;
- undergo the additional training organised or approved by the IPI;
- pass a practical aptitude test organised or approved by the IPI.
Are you a citizen of another European Union Member State, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland? If so, you can also provide a declaration of skills or a qualification that you obtained in this country.
In this event, you do not have to undergo the traineeship. However, the IPI may require you to choose either a three-year adaptation period or an aptitude test, if it observes significant differences between your training and the training required to enter the profession in Belgium.
You are a European citizen and have a certificate of competence or qualification. You can also apply for a European professional card in your original Member State and submit this to the IPI. In this event, your Member State will complete all the steps necessary to obtain recognition of your professional qualifications with the IPI.
What are the conditions for practising the profession?
As a self-employed estate agent, you must:
- be listed in the table of providers or the list of trainees of the IPI;
If you are not in this IPI table or list:
- you cannot use the title of estate agent;
- you cannot work as a self-employed estate agent as your principal or subsidiary occupation.
- respect the ethical rules that guarantee the honourable, upstanding practice of the profession of estate agent;
- be insured for professional liability;
- undergo ongoing professional training.
As an estate agent, you must fulfil the requirement to undergo training. The guarantees that you reskill on a regular basis and can continue to provide an excellent professional service to your clients.
All members listed in a single column (intermediary or property management company) must undergo ten hours of ongoing training per year. Members listed in both columns of the table must undergo 20 hours of ongoing training per year.
If you work as a self-employed estate agent, the law requires you to take out insurance to:
- cover your civil liability;
- secure the bond, i.e. the money entrusted to you by your clients and of which you are not the end recipient.
The IPI took out group insurance that covers all IPI members, i.e. all estate agents in the table of providers or on the list of trainees.
If the required conditions are met, IPI group insurance may cover you if you cause any damage to a client.
You want to practice as a legal entity
If you want to practise the profession as a legal entity, this entity must meet the conditions for entering and practising the profession.
The legal entity must meet the following conditions:
- all managers, administrators, management board members and independent agents working on behalf of the legal entity must be IPI-approved estate agents;
- its aim and activity are limited to the provision of services related to the profession of estate agent;
- if it is formed as a limited company or a limited company with share capital, its shares must be registered;
- at least 60% of the shares, as well as the voting rights, must be directly or indirectly held by IPI-approved estate agents; all the other shares may only be held by natural persons or legal entities, notified to the Institute and practising a profession that is not incompatible;
- the legal entity may only hold shares in other companies or legal entities in an exclusively professional capacity. The purpose and activities of these companies cannot be incompatible with the position of estate agent.
The legal entity must be listed in one of the columns of the IPI table. It is also subject to the same code of ethics as a natural person.
If the legal entity is not listed in the table, the administrators, managers and/or associates assume full civil liability for acts carried out during the practice of the profession within the legal entity. This legal entity must respect the following conditions:
- its administrators, managers and associates working as estate agents and effectively responsible for the departments within which this activity is practised, must be listed in the corresponding column of the table of providers or the list of trainees;
- if this is not the case, the legal entity must then appoint an administrator, manager or associate to this effect; this person will be presumed to be working as a self-employed estate agent, and this may not be contested.
Registration as a trainee
If you have the diploma required to become an estate agent, you can send your application to be included on the list of trainees to the President of the Executive Chamber.
Once you have sent your complete registration dossier to the Executive Chamber and received official confirmation that your dossier is in order, you can take the skills test organised by the IPI.
The skills test is a written test that you must take before starting your traineeship in order to assess your professional knowledge and skills. This test is compulsory for anyone without a traineeship dispensation, regardless of diploma or experience. This test will allow the IPI to identify any shortcomings and areas for development and determine the area in which you still need to improve your skills.
Once you have taken your skills test, you will be added to the list of trainees and receive your IPI number. You must, then, complete a traineeship in the agency of a trainee mentor, who must be an approved IPI member who meets certain conditions.
Only after officially receiving your IPI number can you start your traineeship and begin to practise the estate agent activities that you chose - only in accordance with the column in which you are listed (broker and/or property management company).
The last stage of this journey is the practical aptitude test. This determines whether, at the end of your traineeship, you are capable as a trainee of putting your theoretical knowledge into practice and whether you are able to work as an estate agent in accordance with the current laws and ethical practices.
Registration as a natural person
If you want to be listed in the table of estate agents as a natural person, you must meet the following conditions:
- you must have satisfactorily completed the professional practice traineeship as a self-employed worker;
- you must have taken the additional training organised or approved by the IPI;
- you must have passed the practical aptitude test organised or approved by the IPI.
If you are exempt from the traineeship, you must send your registration application directly to the President of the Executive Chamber with the documents which establish that you meet the entry conditions.
If you want to practise as a legal entity, you can send the President of the Executive Chamber a registration application as a legal entity, if the natural persons working on behalf of the legal entity are already registered as natural persons.
You must pay an annual fee, if you are registered in the table of providers or on the list of trainees. The Institute determines the amount of this fee each year, and this amount is approved by the relevant minister. This fee also covers the amount of the civil liability insurance premium and the security.
Recourse if your registration is refused
If the Executive Chamber refuses to register you, you can submit an appeal to the Secretary of the Chamber of Appeal by registered letter.
The appeal has a suspensory effect. You must submit your appeal within thirty days of notification of the Executive Chamber decision (date as per postmark).
When you are registered in the table of providers or on the list of trainees of the IPI:
- you are placed under its supervision
- you must comply with the ethical standards established by the IPI
These standards ensure that you practise your activities professionally and with integrity. If it is proven that you failed in your ethical duties, you are liable to one of the following disciplinary penalties:
- official reprimand
- suspension for a maximum term of two years
- being struck off
At the criminal level
The illegal practice of the profession is a criminal offence and liable to a fine and/or prison sentence.