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Property in France

Buyers Responsibility on Septic Tank

Tuesday 15 March 2011

A report on the septic tank is now obligatory for property sales, and if it is found to be sub-standard the buyer may be left with responsibility for upgrading it.

Despite having previously announced that this survey requirement would not become operational until 2013, the government brought forward the operational date to 1st January 2011.

This survey must now be included in the list of the up to seven other reports that form the Dossier de Diagnostic Technique (DDT) annexed to all sale contracts or deeds of sale.

All local councils have been charged by the government to undertake a survey of all septic tank installations in their commune.

These surveys are under way throughout the country, but there remain thousands of properties yet to be surveyed.

It is these statutory survey reports that are to be annexed to the sale contract.

However, in the absence of the survey having been undertaken, or where the survey was last undertaken more than three years previously, then the owner is obliged to arrange themselves for the survey to be carried out.

We presume that this survey must be commissioned with the local council through their Service Public de l´Assainissement Non Collectif (SPANC), although the legislation is silent on this point.

The cost of these SPANC surveys does vary, but €150 seems to be the average going rate.

Perhaps of greater consequence is that, if the survey establishes that the septic tank does not comply, the new owners are required to bring it up to a compliance standard within a year.

In practice, it is unlikely local councils will all be equally vociferous in ensuring that either the sellers or the new owners carry out the work. There are actually no sanctions for non-compliance.

However, the fact that they might is going to be a factor that new owners will need to take into consideration in the purchase price they pay for the property. It will certainly make a strong negotiating point for many buyers.

The cost of a new septic tank installation varies by type and size of installation, but can be anything from between €5000 and €15,000.

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