Read on for the most useful and frequent questions and answers regarding property surveys in France…
When should the surveys be done ?
The energy efficiency survey (known as the « DPE ») must be carried out before the property can be advertised for sale or rental in an agency or online, as this information must be included.
Once you have found a buyer or tenant, the rest of the surveys must be completed before the sale or rental agreement can be signed.
Who is responsible for having the surveys done and who pays for them ?
The owner or landlord is responsible for having the surveys carried out and must pay for them. Please note that the property surveyor (ADI Expertise) retains legal ownership of the documents and their use until the invoice has been paid.
How long will the visit last ?
This is dependent on the number of surveys and the size of the property, but on average, the visit takes between two and four hours.
We can be more precise about this when you call as we will evaluate your requirements and the property size.
Does the surveyor speak English ?
Yes. We all speak English (but please speak slowly on the phone!).
Do I need to be there when the survey is carried out ?
It is preferable to be there as we need information about your building and may need to see bills with evidence of your heating costs for the energy efficiency survey.
If you can’t be there, we recommend that you appoint someone else to represent you on the day.
Do I need to have all the surveys done at the same time ?
No, only the energy effiency survey (DPE) is required before the property goes on the market, whether it is in an agency, online or with the solicitor.
The other surveys are needed for the signing of the sales or rental agreement.
Will the surveyor give me the documents after the visit ?
No. Measurements, descriptions and photos are taken on site, but then the report will be written up in our offices.
However, the surveyor can give you lots of information about the state of your property when he comes.
What if I don’t know the date of construction ?
The construction date is important because it determines the number of surveys necessary and the method used. Key dates are : before 1948 for the energy efficiency survey, before 1949 for lead and before July 1st 1997 for asbestos.
You can usually find this information on your building permit or on the deeds for the property. Otherwise, contact your local mairie (town hall) for assistance.
Do I need to carry out the necessary repairs mentioned in the surveys before the sale ?
No. The surveys are carried out so that the future buyer knows of any anomalies or difficulties identified by the surveyor and can make an informed decision.
However, if a serious and dangerous problem is discovered during the gas survey, the surveyor is legally required to cut off the gas supply and inform the supplier. Proof of repair is required before the supply can be re-established.
I already have surveys, do they need to be re-done ?
Yes, if work has been carried out that affects the volume of the building, the insulation, the heating system etc. since the house was purchased.
Yes, if the surveys are no longer valid (see below) or if the regulations have changed with retroactive effect (such as for asbestos).
I am selling a parking space or a building plot, do I need surveys ?
Yes, for parking spaces, cellars and building plots, the natural risks survey (« ERNMT ») is obligatory, as is the termites survey in affected areas. The asbestos survey is obligatory on any building constructed before July 1st 1997.
There are old agricultural buildings on my property which are in a state of ruin, do they need to be surveyed?
Yes, even if the buildings have fallen down completely, the asbestos and natural risks surveys are still obligatory. In the same way, even if the house itself is a ruin, the surveys still need to be done.
I am buying a barn for conversion into a house, what surveys are obligatory ?
Most importantly, check that the owner has obtained authorisation for change of use from the mairie or local council. The necessary document is called a « Certificat d’Urbanisme » and without it, the property cannot be residential.
The required surveys are : asbestos, natural risks and termites if in an at-risk zone (defined by the local council).
What if parts of the property are not accessible ?
On the day of the visit, you must facilitate and allow access to all parts of the property which are mentioned in the survey. If this is not the case, any inaccessible areas will be noted in the report and you will be liable in the event of litigation for a hidden defect or « vice caché ».
For how long are the surveys valid (as per 2017)?
Energy efficiency (DPE) : 10 years*
Asbestos : 3 years
Lead (CREP) : 6 years for rentals and 1 year for sales if lead is found ; unlimited if no lead found.
Loi Carrez / Loi Boutin : unlimited unless significant changes are made to the property’s structure.
Gas : 3 years
Electricity : 3 years*
Termites : 6 months – must be valid when the sales agreement is signed.
Natural and industrial risks (ERNMT) : 6 months – must be valid when the sales or rental agreement is signed.
*unless repairs or building work have been carried out
Insurance & Accreditation
How can I be sure that the surveyor is qualified and accredited?
All of our reports contain proof of insurance, accreditation and a sworn statement by the surveyor.
Who is the « notaire » and what is his or her role ?
The notary, or solicitor, has a fundamental role. Between the signing of the preliminary sale agreement and the final sale, a number of important documents must be attained and authenticated and certain formalities must be carried out. The notary has an administrative and legal role and prepares authenticated contracts on behalf of his or her clients, ensuring the security of property transactions. Significantly, the notary who is preparing the sale agreement is responsible for checking that the surveyor who carried out the visit fills all necessary conditions in terms of insurance and accreditation, and that the documentation in the technical dossier is valid and within date limits.
Energy Efficiency Survey – the DPE
What is a « DPE vierge » or a blank energy efficiency survey?
The blank DPE is only possible with properties built before 1948 when it is not possible to provide heating and hot water bills for a three year period. Energy consumption cannot therefore be calculated. However, as with any other DPE survey, the document is valid for 10 years.
This is the case for properties built before 1948, if they are second homes, have stood empty for more than three years or if the bills are unavailable (for example, the tenant did not provide them at the end of the lease).
I already have a rental DPE. Can I use it for the sale ?
No. A sale DPE can be used for a rental agreement, but not the other way round.
Is the surface area of my rental property the same as that mentioned on the DPE energy efficiency survey ?
No. The DPE only takes into account heated rooms and so can be quite different to the real habitable surface area of the property.
There is no heating in my house, just a wood-burning kitchen stove. Do I need an energy efficiency survey ?
Yes. Wood-burning kitchen stoves, inbuilt wood fireplaces and wood-burners are considered heating. In any case, even a house without any heating must be visited so that an exemption certificate, called an « attestation de dispense de DPE », can be obtained. Estate agencies and notaries will require this document.
Do we need to provide an energy efficiency survey when a leasehold agreement is automatically renewed ?
No, not if you haven’t changed tenant.
An energy efficiency survey which is less than 10 years old must be provided each time you take a new tenant or if you have carried out work that has changed the surface area or type or heating.
I only rent the house out in Summer, is the energy efficiency survey obligatory ?
No, no DPE survey is required for rural rental contracts or seasonal rentals rented for less than 4 months of the year.
I have a new build (« installation neuve ») certificate from the Consuel. Can it replace the electricity survey if I sell the property ?
Yes, it is valid for the sale for a period of 15 years.
How can I know when the electrics were last done in my house ?
It is usually the date when the house was built. In doubt, or in the absence of a certificate from the Consuel, you should have the electricity survey done.
I had all the electrics redone in the house one year ago, do I need to have the electricity survey done ?
Yes, an expert has to verify that the work meets all regulations, unless you have an inspection certificate from the Consuel which was issued after the work was completed.
The electricity report has highlighted a number of anomalies, can you provide me with a quote for repair work ?
No, for ethical reasons we cannot tell you how much work should cost nor recommend a professional.
You must contact an electrician who will establish a quote for bringing the property into line with current safety standards.
I have already terminated the electricity contract, can you still do the survey ?
Yes, but it will be incomplete. The report will mention that the electricity supply has been cut off and that certain tests could not be carried out. The guarantee against liability for hidden defects will not apply to any elements that could not be tested.
Does the gas survey apply when a gas oven or other appliance is connected to a butane bottle with a flexible hose?
No, the survey does not apply to these.
I have removed the gas appliances, is the survey still obligatory ?
Yes, if any part of the gas system, such as pipes, binaurals, inverters or taps, is still present.
The gas system is no longer in operation, is the survey still obligatory ?
Yes, if a gas system is present then the survey is required.
A gas system constitutes any heating system with a gas boiler attached to mains supply gas or to an LPG tank, but also any fixture attached to the wall including LPG bottles linked to a gas hob, water heater or gas radiator.
There may be several gas systems within a property, each of which will be subject to an individual report.
My very old house has been fully renovated and an extension was built five years ago. Must I have the lead survey done ?
Even if your house has been renovated and extended, you are obliged to provide a lead survey when the house is sold or rented, whether it is negative or positive.
I rent out a property. If the survey identifies the presence of lead, am I obliged to have work carried out ?
Repair work will only be obligatory if the state of conservation of the paintwork is poor (considered to be class 3, or deteriorated).
The owner has not provided the termites survery despite my request. Can I make him or her do so ?
Yes, if the property is in a zone which is recognized as infested by a prefectorial decree.
If this is not the case, then the owner is under no obligation to have this survey completed. You can however have a termites survey carried out by a property surveyor at your own cost. This report will also mention other issues (such as woodworm) in the miscellaneous comments section.
When does a sample need to be taken for asbestos analysis ?
It is not common for samples to be taken. This only happens when it is not possible to ascertain whether or not asbestos is present.
What materials are most likely to contain asbestos ?
Asbestos is most often present in suspended ceiling tiles, floor tiles or glued plastic flooring, bitumen tiles or roofing (shingle), composite slate or cladding. Asbestos can however also be found in other materials.
Natural Risks Survey – ERNMT
What is the ERNMT Natural Risks survey?
The Natural and Industrial Risks survey informs the tenant or buyer of the potential risks surrounding a property, such as flooding, underground caverns or seismic activity. This survey will also mention if the property has suffered damage that has been recognized and compensated for by an insurance company.
I have been asked for a sanitation compliance certificate – an « attestation de conformité de l’assainissement ». Who can provide this ?
You need to contact your mairie (local council office), who will have appointed a company (known as a « SPANC ») to carry out private sanitation compliance surveys (ie. when not attached to mains sewage). This has been the case since 2011.
Buyers have one year from the date of the sale in which to bring the property up to regulatory standards.
In villages and towns with a public sewage network, you should contact the mairie to confirm that the property is indeed connected to the mains sewage.
If you have not found the answer to your question here, please get in touch.