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Building & Renovation

Electrics Survey Becomes Law for House Sales in France

Thursday 15 May 2008

The Government has published details of the new mandatory electrical survey for domestic property sales.

This brings the number of surveys that must be undertaken on a property prior to sale completion to a total of 7.

The existing estate property diagnosis surveys are for asbestos, lead, termites, energy efficiency, natural and technological risks, and gas. Not all surveys are required in all cases, as it will depend on the age and location of the property.

The new electrical survey will become obligatory on all domestic property sales with effect from 1st January 2009, except where the system has been renewed within the last 15 years, in which case the property will be exempt.

The purpose of the new electrical survey is to assess the safety of the electrical system. It will not be a comprehensive report on the electrical system in the property.

The survey must cover the presence of a satisfactory consumer unit, the condition of the internal wiring and sockets, the presence and adequacy of circuit breakers, mains earthing, as well as separate earthing for bathrooms. Ancillary buildings such as barns and workshops on the property must also be included in the survey.

In the event that faults are found, then they must be brought to the attention of the buyer, although the owner will not be required to carry out remedial works. Nevertheless, the survey could provide a bargaining counter for a prospective buyer to argue for remedial works, or for a reduction in price, if the survey conflicts with previous assurances that may have been given.

The survey will need to be carried out by one of the growing number of certified diagnostic immobilier companies that now have become a familiar feature of the property industry.

The survey report must be annexed to the sale contract or the sale deeds, but the new law fails to make explicit the consequences of a failure to carry out the survey. In other cases, it can result, either in the right of the buyer to receive compensation, or to withdraw from the sale.

The duration of the validity of the survey would appear to be three years, although this is not made entirely clear in the law.

The survey has been introduced against the backdrop of a French Government report in 2004, which found that 7 million properties had electrical systems that presented a risk to their occupants, of which 2.3 million were considered dangerous.

The report estimated that, of 250,000 domestic fires in France each year, around one-third were caused by defective and unsafe electrical installations.

You can read more in our comprehensive guide to Buying Property in France

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