Obligatory Reports when buying a French Property
For property sales in France there are a growing number of obligatory reports to be done to protect both the seller and buyer. These are assembled under the collective name of the “dossier de diagnostic techniques”. The tests contained vary depending on the region the property is in, and the Notaire handling the sale should ensure that the appropriate reports are all completed and present with the compromis by asking you to initial and sign them all to confirm you have seen them. A word of caution though is to be sure that you do understand the contents, as you will not be able to withdraw from the sale later based on some of the findings if you have already signed your agreement. If any of the obligatory reports are not present for the compromis, be certain that these are noted as a “clause suspensive” in this preliminary contract of sale so that the sale will become subject to you seeing a satisfactory report. The “Dossier de diagnostic techniques” should contain:
The Asbestos Report (L’Amiante)
Since the 1st of September 2002 an asbestos report is obligatory for all buildings in France where the planning permission was obtained before the 1st of July 1997. For any apartment where the planning was passed before the 1st of July 1997 there should be two reports; one for the apartment and one for the main building itself. The asbestos report is to inform the buyers of the presence of any asbestos in any part of the building material used; firstly to assess if this is likely to pose a threat to health and secondly so that any future building work can be carried out safely. The report does not oblige any sort of remedial work to be done. Many materials contain asbestos (in fact it is often difficult to find a property without at least some), and while appropriate precautions should be taken if handling it, the part of the report which is the most important is that relating to products in “mauvais etât” or bad condition. If you are particularly concerned, ask for a clause in the compromis de vente (French property sale contract) allowing for a quotation to be prepared to remove the offending material and set an upper limit for the cost. This report is paid for by the sellers, it and the quotation remain valid so be sure to keep a copy with your deeds for the future if you re-sell.
The Lead Report (Le Constat de risque d'exposition au Plomb)
Since the 27th of April 2006 any property in France built before the 1st of January 1949 has to have a Lead report, or more accurately a or risk assessment for your likelihood to be exposed to lead – this is because lead poisoning is accumulative and therefore even repeated low level exposure can prove harmful over time. Unlike in the UK this does not normally relate to the water pipes, but in fact relates to things such as paint which might contain white lead oxide as a pigment. This test actually involves an analysis of paint samples etc and is fairly costly and time consuming – thankfully the seller pays and the report normally remains valid for six years. This report should also be supplied for any property being rented for habitation.
The Gas Installation Report (Un état de l'installation intérieure de Gaz Naturel)
From the 1st of November 2007, for all sales of property in France with natural gas supply, the seller is obliged to have an inspection report of the internal installation dating no older than one year.
The Termites and Insects Report (Un état relatif à la présence de Termites)
In France termites are a growing problem in over a half of the departments:
Since the 3rd of July 2000 any occupant of a property or land in France infested by termites is obliged by law to inform their Mairie by recommended letter with proof of delivery. The Marie then has to carry out a study to prepare a map of the area affected and has to notify the inhabitants of their obligation to have this treated within six months. In the absence of satisfactory treatment within this period the Mairie can opt to carry out the work themselves and charge the owners. Because of this reporting system the Notaire handling the sale will write to the Prefecture to see if the property you are buying is in an infested zone or not and will ask for a report carried out within the previous three months as he/she feels appropriate.
The Natural, Technological or Seismic Risks Report (Risques naturels, Technologiques et Sismiques)
Depending on the region, since june 2006, every compromis and contract of sale or rental should have attached a precise report compiled by the departmental Prefecture of the commune. This will include risk assessments for such diverse things as forest fires, floods, avalanche, volcanic eruption, landslides, earthquakes as well as proximity to Nuclear power stations, storage facilities, dangerous chemicals etc. This report will precisely identify the zones affected and the exact nature of the risk. Good to know!
The Energy Efficiency Report (Diagnostic de Performance Energétique)
From the 1st of November 2006 every property re-sale in France must be accompanied by a DPE report. This is basically a two label system to firstly inform any buyer on a scale of 1 to 6 of the likely heating costs for the building (insulation rating), and secondly on a scale from A to G to inform the purchaser of the likely impact on Global warming by the production of greenhouse gasses. The report is valid for Ten years and also contains general advice on how to reduce the energy consumption and improve the insulation. The purchaser has, however, no obligations to carry out any remedial works to the property. From the 1st of July 2007, this labelling system will also apply to all new constructions and rental contracts. This report is also carried out at the cost of the sellers.
What Next ?
Coming soon, there will be an obligation on the property sellers to provide a certification regarding the waste treatment for their property – either that it conforms to the current DTU regulations for fosse septiques, or indeed the new requirements heavily rumoured to be coming in as of March 2008 to comply with EN12566 3 – which is far more stringent than the current law. The certificate can also confirm correct connection to the mains drainage system if available.
There will also be an obligatory report on the condition of the electrical installation of all properties older than 15 years, yet another good reason not to attempt DIY installations if not precisely to the letter of French electrical regulations . . . . . . UK three pin sockets and ring mains will not be acceptable!
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