Language barriers in Belgian coastal property co-ownership: What are your rights?

If you are a co-owner of a residential building located on the Belgian coast, you might find that the minutes of the general assembly of co-owners are written in a language different from your own. Can you request a translation? What if the majority of the building’s owners speak a different language? This article aims to clarify these questions and more.

Dylan Gillis

General assembly and language

The law does not specify in which language the general assembly must be held, nor which language should be used for drafting the minutes. Therefore, unless otherwise stated in the building’s bylaws, the general assembly can decide at the beginning of the meeting, by a simple majority, to conduct the assembly in a language other than that of the location where the building is situated.

Minutes and language

The same applies to the minutes. Here too, the general assembly can decide that the minutes be drafted in a language other than that of the location where the building is situated. However, a clause in the bylaws may stipulate that the local language must be used.

Translation rights

If the minutes are written in a language other than that of the location where the building is located, you can request a translation into the language or one of the languages of the linguistic regime where the building is situated. The cost of this translation must be borne by the association of co-owners. If a co-owner wishes for a translation into another language, they will have to pay for it themselves.

Why this matters

Language issues can create significant barriers in understanding the rules, decisions, and financial implications related to property co-ownership. Misunderstandings can lead to conflicts, legal disputes, and even financial losses. Therefore, it’s crucial to know your rights and options when it comes to language preferences in property co-ownership.

What to do if you face language barriers

Consult the bylaws

The first step is to consult the building’s bylaws. These documents often contain clauses that specify the language in which the general assembly and minutes should be conducted and drafted. Make sure you understand these clauses and their implications.

Speak up in the general assembly

If you’re uncomfortable with the language being used, don’t hesitate to speak up during the general assembly. The assembly can decide by a simple majority to change the language, so your voice matters.

Seek legal advice

If you find that your language rights are being ignored or violated, it may be helpful to seek legal advice. A lawyer can guide you through the legal avenues available to you.

Additional considerations

Impact on property value

Language barriers can potentially impact the value of your property. If a significant portion of co-owners feels alienated due to language issues, it could lead to a less harmonious living environment, which could, in turn, affect property values.

Community relations

Language is more than just a means of communication; it’s also a significant part of community building. A building where all co-owners can communicate effectively is likely to have a stronger, more cohesive community, which can be a selling point for future buyers.


Language can be a sensitive issue, especially in a country like Belgium, which has multiple official languages. When it comes to property co-ownership on the Belgian coast, the law provides some flexibility regarding the language in which the general assembly and minutes are conducted. However, it’s crucial to know your rights and take proactive steps if you face language barriers. Whether it’s consulting the bylaws, speaking up in the general assembly, or seeking legal advice, being informed is the key to navigating this complex issue successfully.