Ensuring compliance with accessibility requirements in public spaces

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The accessibility of a building, facilities or public highway refers to the features that ensure that anyone can access, find their bearing in and move around the building, facilities or public highway in question as independently as possible, and make use of the services for which these facilities or public highway were designed.

In Luxembourg, accessibility requirements must be met in any publicly accessible space in the public domain, be it for shared, private or public use.

To ensure these accessibility requirements are met, it may be necessary to carry out access improvement works. Such work may or may not require prior authorisation.

Who is concerned?

The persons responsible for the access improvement or rational development works may be:

  • natural persons; or
  • legal persons established under private law; or
  • public legal persons.

These person must be able to provide, at all times and upon request by the competent minister or mayor, a certificate of conformity attesting that the works are compliant.

In the case of existing public spaces or spaces in existing built-up areas, the required works must be carried out by the owners, tenants (if agreed in the lease) or emphyteutic leaseholders of the spaces in question.

If the existing building is a joint-occupation residential building, the required works must be carried out by the owners, the undivided co-owners, the commonhold association, or the co-emphyteutic leasehold association.

Prerequisites

Publicly accessible spaces include all buildings, facilities and premises that are open to the public or in which meetings are held. The following are considered to be publicly accessible spaces:  

The following are not considered to be publicly accessible spaces:

  • accommodation managed by the National Reception Office (Office national de l’accueil);
  • temporary facilities and constructions erected for a duration of no more than one month;
  • multi-unit residential buildings.

Preliminary steps

Before the access improvement works can be carried out, a technical accessibility inspector will assess the conformity of the plans for any works that require prior authorisation.

Accordingly, applications for authorisations to carry out access improvement works must include the following documents:

  • a certificate of conformity for the plans, issued by a technical accessibility inspector, attesting that the building plans comply with the accessibility requirements; and
  • the authorisation for a dispensation or a solution of equivalent effect, if one has been obtained.

Once the works are completed, the technical accessibility inspector will assess the conformity of the works, whether or not prior authorisation was required.

Deadlines

The accessibility requirements pertaining to new builds come into force on 1 July 2023. From that date, all major projects involving the conversion of a public highway must satisfy the accessibility requirements.

Existing publicly accessible spaces, or those in existing built-up areas, must comply with the accessibility requirements by no later than 1 January 2032.

Costs

The owners or emphyteutic leaseholders of the space in question must ensure that the accessibility requirements are met, by carrying out, at their own expense, the works required in a publicly accessible space:

  • that already exists; or
  • that is located within an existing building.

The parties to a lease agreement may agree that the works required to meet the accessibility requirements are to be carried out by the tenant.

How to proceed

Types of constructions

Newly built publicly accessible spaces

The accessibility requirements apply to the following exterior and interior parts:

  • access routes to the building, and the services being provided;
  • the reception area;
  • the facilities and their equipment for the services being provided;
  • vertical and horizontal passageways;
  • at least one washroom;
  • at least one fitting or dressing room;
  • at least one car parking space per block of 20 spaces, or part thereof; and in facilities with over 100 spaces, one accessible parking space per block of 100 spaces;
  • at least one bedroom if the property has between one and 20 bedrooms; at least 2 bedrooms if it has between 21 and 50 bedrooms; and one additional accessible bedroom per 50 additional bedrooms, or part thereof, in the case of properties with over 50 bedrooms;
  • signage.

The space in which the publicly available service is provided must be as close as possible to the main entrance.

There must be an accessible route leading to the main entrance. This route must be chosen and laid out in such a way that there is an unbroken journey from outside the site.

Existing public spaces, or spaces in an existing buildings

The accessibility requirements apply to both the exterior and interior.

The space in which the publicly available service is provided must be as close as possible to the main entrance.

There must be an accessible route leading to the main entrance. This route must be chosen and laid out in such a way that there is an unbroken journey from outside the site.

If the same service is provided in several location in the site, then at least one of the locations must be accessible.

The existing property is a multi-unit residential building

The accessibility requirements apply, subject to the agreement:

  • of the building owner, if the building is owned by a single owner;
  • of the commonhold or emphyteutic leasehold association, if the building is jointly owned;
  • of the undivided co-owners, if the building is under undivided co-ownership.

If the application is refused, a copy of the refusal is sent to the person who requested the accessibility-related work, and to the minister responsible for disability policy.

If necessary, the refusal is recorded in the minutes of the general meeting.

New constructions of multi-unit residential buildings

The accessibility requirements apply to:

  • external passageways;
  • access to the building;
  • communal areas of the building;
  • access to accommodation, rooms in the accommodation and passageways within the accommodation;
  • at least one car parking space per block of 20 spaces, or part thereof; and in facilities with over 100 spaces, one accessible parking space per block of 100 spaces;
  • signage.

Ten percent of the accommodation units in a multi-unit residential building must be designed and laid out in such a way as to be accessible to persons with reduced mobility. The minimum number of accessible accommodation units is rounded up to the nearest unit.

Note: these conditions also apply when multi-unit residential buildings are created by changing their assigned use.

New builds and significant conversion work on public highways

The accessibility requirements apply to:

  • pedestrian passageways and crossings;
  • pedestrian and cyclist passageways and crossings;
  • pavements and pedestrian walkways;
  • car parking lanes and parking spaces;
  • bus and tram platforms;
  • pedestrian zones, residential zones and meeting areas;
  • public squares;
  • street equipment or furniture.

Exemptions and solutions of equivalent effect

After having sought the opinion of the Accessibility Advisory Council, the minister:

  • will assess whether meeting the accessibility requirements would represent a disproportionate burden;
  • will grant an exemption or authorise a solution of equivalent effect.

It is the persons responsible for the works who must apply to the minister responsible for disability policy for an exemption, or solution of equivalent effect. The application must be submitted online via MyGuichet.lu (see 'Forms / Online services') or via the MyGuichet.lu mobile application.

This is a procedure with authentication that requires:

  • a LuxTrust product (Token, Smartcard or Signing Stick); or
  • an electronic identity card (eID).

The minister, having sought the opinion of the Accessibility Advisory Council, will then grant the exemption or alternative solution.

Exemption

Exemptions from the accessibility requirements may be granted for:

  • existing public spaces, or spaces in existing buildings;
  • major conversions of public highways;
  • the creation of new public spaces, or multi-unit residential buildings by changing their assigned use.

The following grounds for exemption will be accepted:

  • technical impossibility;
  • disproportionate burden;
  • safeguarding of historical and cultural heritage, as relates to the conservation and protection of sites of historical importance and national monuments.

Solutions of equivalent effect

For any site, public highway or building, the accessibility requirements may be fulfilled in ways other than those provided for by law.

An application for authorisation to implement a solution of equivalent effect must cite valid reasons.

Penalties

The project owners, builders and other persons linked to the project owner by a labour hiring contract, and any person responsible for the accessibility works, who have undertaken works in contravention of the accessibility requirements are liable to the following penalties:

  • for natural persons: a fine of between EUR 251 and EUR 125.000 and/or imprisonment of between 8 days and 2 months;
  • for legal persons: a fine of between EUR 500 and EUR 250,000.

In addition to these penalties, the judge may:

  • order that the works be made good or that the asset to be demolished, all at the guilty party's expense;
  • impose the following sanctions on natural persons:
    • closure of the business and its establishment;
    • publication or public display of the guilty verdict, at the guilty party's own expense;
  • impose the following sanctions on legal persons:
    • exclusion from tendering for public procurement contracts;
    • dissolution.

Technical accessibility inspectors who have issued certificates of conformity for plans or works which do not meet the accessibility requirements are liable to the same penalties as listed above.

Persons who fail to carry out the accessibility works in connection with existing public spaces, or in spaces in existing buildings, are liable to the same penalties as listed above.

Good to know

Financial aid in the form of a cash subsidy may be granted by the minister responsible for disability policy, for:

  • improving the accessibility of existing public spaces or spaces in existing buildings;
  • rational development of publicly accessible spaces;
  • projects to create a public space, or a multi-unit residential building by changing its assigned use.

Online services and forms

Who to contact

Ministry of Family Affairs, Solidarity, Living Together and Reception of Refugees

2 of 3 bodies shown

Related procedures and links

Procedures

Application for financial aid for accessibility work or reasonable accommodation Requesting a reasonable accommodation Issuing a certificate of conformity

Links

Legal references

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