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French Property Surveys and Diagnostic Reports - All You Need to Know

French Property Surveys and Diagnostic Reports

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Whether you’re planning to buy, rent or sell French Riviera real estate, there are several property surveys and reports which will need to be carried out first. Unlike the complete structural surveys required in the UK before a real estate transaction, the French system focuses on the health and safety of the building as well as its impact on the environment.

When do these surveys need to be carried out?

French property surveys and diagnostic reports are usually carried out before you exchange contracts and always carried out before completion/closing of the sale takes place. Reports are sent to your notaire who will annexe them to the sale and purchase agreement.

Where do I find someone to carry out these reports?

If you’re planning on buying/selling property on the French Riviera and need to organise any or all of these surveys, the next step is to contact your notaire. They will be able to advise you about any risks relating to your property and will be able to recommend qualified professionals to carry out the relevant surveys for you.

Who will carry them out?

The surveys must be carried out by a qualified survey technician with a certificate of competency from the Comité d’accreditation français (COFRAC). To avoid a conflict of interest, your notaire should not have any formal links to the survey technicians.

What happens if I don’t carry out these surveys?

If you don’t carry out the relevant surveys required for the sale/rental of your property, you may be found liable for any remedial works deemed necessary should any hidden defects arise. The French system was put in place to protect the consumer, and a potential buyer is entitled to withdraw from the contract, or demand a reduction in price should the seller not provide all the valid surveys.  

Are all the surveys compulsory?

Many reports are compulsory, some are optional but to make sure there’s no nasty surprises, all are advisable. To help you sort through all the red tape, we’ve put together a quick rundown of the various different French property surveys and diagnostic reports you’ll need when it comes to buying or selling your luxury property in France:

Compulsory Reports

The various different property surveys which are compulsory when selling a property are grouped into one file called the DDT or ‘dossier de diagnostic technique’ (Technical Diagnosis File). The seller is always responsible for having the DDT drawn up. These surveys can only be carried out by a qualified professional with liability insurance.

The DDT contains:

1) Asbestos Inspection- Amiante

Type of transaction: Sale

What does it apply to: This concerns any building with a building permit issued before the 1st July 1997.

What is it:  A report which lists any materials found to contain asbestos within the property. Duration: If no asbestos is found, the validation period of the inspection is unlimited. If however, asbestos is found, a new test must be carried out within 3 years of the initial findings.

Additional info: If the diagnosis for your property was carried out before 2013, it must be renewed if you choose to sell, even if no asbestos was initially found.   

Recommended for you: How to Deal with Asbestos in French Property

2) Wastewater Inspection- Assainissement Non-Collectif

Type of transaction: Sale

What does it apply to: Any properties not connected to the public water drainage system.

What is it: A document which confirms that the property’s wastewater system or plant conforms to the current regulations. Duration: 3 years.

Additional info: Government organisation the Services Publics d'Assainissement Non-Collectif or SPANC carry out this inspection.

3) Lead Inspection - Plomb

Type of transaction: Sale/Rental

What does it apply to: This applies to any property built before 1st January 1949.

What is it: This report identifies if lead is present anywhere in the property and summarises safety precautions to take, plus the effects of lead on health.

Duration: If no lead is found, the validation period of the inspection is unlimited. However, if lead is found the report is valid for one year. For rental properties, the report is valid for 6 years.

Additional info: The report only covers paintwork, it doesn’t cover lead piping.

4) Electrical Inspection - Electricité

Type of transaction: Sale

What does it apply to: Any building with an electrical installation over 15 years old.

What is it: This is a statement which outlines the state of the electrical installation - earth, cabling, trip switches etc.

Duration: 3 years for the indoor electrical installation. Additional info: The survey isn’t compulsory if the seller can produce a ‘certificat de conformitédated less than 3 years ago to prove that the property complies with current regulations.

5) Natural & Ecological Risk Inspection- Etat des Risques Naturels et Technologiques (ERNT)

Type of transaction: Sale/Rental

What does it apply to: Any property which is found in an area subject to natural risks - flooding, landslides etc.

What is it: A certificate which states that the property is at risk from a natural disaster. Duration: 6 months before the date of the sale or lease agreement.

Additional info: This is an administrative report rather than a survey and won’t cover any specific structural issues the property might have.

6) Gas Inspection - Gaz

Type of transaction: Sale

What does it apply to: Any building where gas was installed over 15 years ago.

What is it: A report which outlines the domestic gas installation on the property.

Duration: 3 years for the indoor gas installation.

Additional info: In case of hidden defects, the buyer may ask for a reduction in the sale price or cancel the sale without penalties.

7) Termite/Fungal/Insect Inspection- Termites/Etat Parasitaire

Type of transaction: Sale

What does it apply to: This report is obligatory in certain areas and strongly recommended for all buildings over 25 years old.

What is it: A report which states whether termites/fungus/insects have been found within the property.

Duration: 6 months. Additional info: If an infestation of insects is found in your neighbourhood during the sale period, you may be subject to provide a new report for the buyer.

8) Energy Performance Inspection - DPE

Type of transaction: Sale/Rental

What does it apply to: All buildings except those listed in Article R.134-1 of the CCH (in French).

What is it: A diagnosis of the property’s energy performance - the estimated consumption and the impact of the consumption on the environment.

Duration: 10 years.

Additional info: Property adverts for sale or rental must display the building’s energy rating.

9) Surface Area Inspection - Loi Carrez

Type of transaction: Sale

What does it apply to: Residential or commercial real estate in a communal property (copropriété) excluding basements, garages, parking spaces and any lot less than 8m².

What is it? A certificate which measures the total surface of the living space within a property.

Duration:  Unlimited unless you add an extension to your property after the report is drawn up. Additional info: This is not required for individual houses.

Non-compulsory reports

These additional building reports are not compulsory when buying/selling a property in France but they are highly recommended to ensure your real estate transaction runs smoothly.

1) Merule Inspection - Mérule

Type of transaction: Sale

What does it apply to? All buildings.

What is it? A report stating whether a property has traces of the mérule fungus. Duration: No fixed term.

Additional info: Mérule fungus usually develops after a leak or flood and can destroy wood and weaken the structure of your home.

2) Radon Inspection - Radon

Type of transaction: Sale/Rental

What does it apply to: Anyone selling real estate in an area where radon gas may be found.

What is it: A report which confirms the presence of radon, a colourless and odourless radioactive gas.

Duration: No fixed term as yet.

Additional info: Radon monitoring and risk levels are yet to be defined by the French government.

3) Structural Survey - Diagnostic Bâtiment

Type of transaction: Sale

What does it apply to: All buildings.

What is it: A wide-ranging inspection of the property carried out by an architect or chartered surveyor to flag up any existing or hidden problems.

Duration: 3 months.

Additional Info: This type of survey is not obligatory and still quite uncommon in France.

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