Let the seller beware!

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Sellers of property in France are under an ever increasing obligation to better inform their buyers.

Since 1 November 2007 sellers have been legally obliged to supply their buyers with a file of home inspection reports, known as Dossier de Diagnostic Technique or DDT, grouping together various reports. The DDT must be attached to the preliminary sale contract.

The full DDT consists of the following documents (although not all documents are required in every case):

  • A report on the risk of exposure to lead (Constat de Risque d’Exposition au Plomb or CREP) – this is only required if planning permission to build the property was granted before January 1949. If no lead is found, the report is valid indefinitely. However where lead is found in concentrations above the legal limit, the report must be less than one year old on completion of the sale.
  • An asbestos report (état d’amiante) is required if planning permission to build the property was granted before 1 July 1997. The report is valid indefinitely.
  • A termite report (état termites) must be supplied if the property is situated in a zone designated as being infested by or at risk of being infested by termites. It is only valid for six months.
  • A report on the internal gas installation (état de l’installation intérieure de gaz) must be produced where the gas installation is over 15 years old. It is valid for three years.
  • Likewise, a report on the internal electrical installation (état de l’installation intérieure d’électricité) must be produced where the electrical installation is over 15 years old. Again it is valid for three years.
  • A statement of natural and technological risks (état des risques naturels et technologiques) is required if the property is situated in a zone covered by a natural or technological risk prevention plan or is in a seismic zone with a level of risk that requires it. This statement is valid for six months.
  • With certain exceptions, an energy performance certificate (diagnostic de performance énergétique or DPE) is required for any property that has a heating system of hot water. The main purpose of the certificate is to estimate the property's energy consumption as well as how much greenhouse gas it emits. It is valid for 10 years.
  • If the property is not connected to mains drainage but instead has an individual drainage system (installation individuelle d’assainissement), the seller must provide the buyer with a report into the condition of the drainage system issued by the local drainage authority. The report must be less than three years old on completion of the sale.

If you are selling an apartment in a co-owned residence, you must also provide your buyer with a certificate specifying the habitable floor area of the apartment (certificat Loi Carre). Although this doesn't fall under the same regulations as the DDT, it is nonetheless a legal requirement and in practice is usually issued by the same company that produces the DDT.

And for those of you who thought this long list of reports was not enough, rest assured – a new law came into force in March 2014 to increase the number of documents to be produced when selling a property in a co-owned block! These extra documents consist of:

  • The document containing the management regulations as well as the division of the residence into communal areas and privately owned properties (Règlement de Copropriété – Etat Descriptif de Division);
  • The minutes of the last three Annual General Meetings of the co-owners (procès-verbaux d’Assemblée Générale);
  • The maintenance book (carnet d’entretien) for the residence – which enables the buyer to get a picture of the condition of the buildings by looking at the works done in the past and those planned or necessary for the future;
  • A summary of unpaid co-ownership charges for the residence as a whole as well as debts owned by the co-ownership to suppliers;
  • Confirmation of the amount of co-ownership charges you paid (both on account of the provisional budget plus extra charges) during the two financial years preceding the sale;
  • Monies due to you to the co-ownership and monies that must be paid by the buyer to the co-ownership (in the form of a Pré-Etat Daté);
  • If it exists, information relating to any fund for the financing of future works.

If you have this information already it is advisable to pass it on directly to your buyer, rather than asking the managing agent of your residence to provide copies, as this will avoid delays and extra costs for you.

And finally, the Loi ALUR has added one further report to the list of those to be included in the DDT file – if your property is situated in a zone formally designated by a Prefect of the Department as being a zone at risk of infestation by "house fungus" (a fungus which can destroy the wooden structure of a house), you must now provide your buyer with a report into the risk of the presence of house fungus at the property (état mérules).

And beware – if any of the Loi ALUR documents are not attached to the signed copy of the sale contract which is sent out to your buyer by registered post, their seven day cooling off period will not start to run! So if you want your buyer to be bound into the purchase as soon as possible, make sure that all necessary documents are attached. Bon courage!