A flat right is the ownership right to part of a property, such as a home or business building, which can be acquired after the property has been divided. The flat right generally includes the ownership right to a separate part of the divided property and the right to use the common parts.
Regulation of flat right in law and local ordinances
The flat right is included in Book 5 of the Civil Code, as Title 9. This title contains most of the legal rules and regulations that shape, and apply to, the flat right, including:
- Who has the right to subdivide a property;
- The requirements for a division, including the form of the division deed;
- How the flat owners relate to each other;
- That an Owners’ Association (VvE) must be established;
- What rights and powers the VvE has; and
- How the exercise of rights in relation to insurance of the building is regulated.
Furthermore, in some municipalities, the right to split a building is limited and subject to conditions. For example, it is sometimes necessary to apply for a division permit.
Big cities, many neighbours
In big cities, and especially in Amsterdam, the lion’s share of houses are flats. What this means is not only that you have more neighbours than in an un-split property, but also that you have to deal with them more directly. For example, flat owners are generally jointly responsible for maintaining the shell, foundation, and roof structure.
This maintenance requires (sometimes a lot of) money, which must be raised and managed jointly by the owners. In situations of shared responsibility and managed money, it is often necessary to make good and firm agreements.
Yet conflict cannot always be avoided. If one of the flat owners does not keep to the agreements, does not want to cooperate in necessary maintenance and does not care about what the association decides, going to court is inevitable.
Party in the middle? Approach the subdistrict court
The subdistrict court can grant an authorisation under Article 5:121 of the Dutch Civil Code that can replace the consent or cooperation of one of the flat owners for an act to be performed, if that owner has no reasonable grounds for his refusal, or he refuses to respond. In this case, the subdistrict court can also determine the proportions for contributions to the costs of the act.
Thus, this possibility enshrined in the law has a very real consequence. As a flat owner, you can be forced to incur costs for maintenance. It is therefore not possible, at least not without reasonable grounds, to stop a plan of another flat owner.
For this reason, it is also always very important when buying a flat to carefully study the relationships between the owners. Because even one rotten apple can significantly reduce the enjoyment of living.
If you are looking for more information on flat rights and, for example, the rights and obligations of an association of owners (VvE), our specialists are of course at your service.