Real estate warnings 'win'better consumer protection
15 February 2006, BRUSSELS — Follow-up investigations at the real estate firms accused last year of illegal practices have revealed that 99 percent are now operating within the law.
15 February 2006
BRUSSELS — Follow-up investigations at the real estate firms accused last year of illegal practices have revealed that 99 percent are now operating within the law.
The investigations were carried out after federal Consumer Affairs Minister Freya Van den Bossche said inquiries had revealed most real estate firms did not respect consumer rights.
The Socialist SP.A minister is satisfied with the results of follow-up investigations: "The sector clearly shows it is prepared to respect the rights of consumers".
"When we published the poor results, the branch associations were angry. But the individual real estate agents took the conclusions seriously," Van den Bossche said.
Responding to the criticism levelled at her last year after revealing the findings of her initial inquiries, the minister stressed that she "says when it's wrong and when it's good".
Inquiries showed last year that 448 of 542 inspected real estate agency offices were operating illegally. The firms were given an official warning.
Van den Bossche said government authorities have since re-visited 80 percent of those offices and 99 percent have amended their contracts to meet legal requirements.
"Therefore, the warning system works," she said.
Just three real estate agents were fined and told again to amend their contracts. Failure to comply this time will result in legal action.
Van den Bossche now wants to "help" the rest of the sector. A new round of inspections will soon be carried, but fines will not be imposed.
"The only thing I want to achieve is protection of the consumer," the minister said.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news