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Works carried out to French property without required permissions

This article is for general information only. French law is a highly specialised area and you should only act or refrain from acting after receiving full professional advice on the facts of your particular case. This article is for general information and does not constitute investment advice. Always consult an IFA.

This article discussed the position if your seller carried out works without building permission. A distinction must be drawn between the two situations of an owner obtaining building permission or not.

Works carried out with permission:

In French law, the procedures to obtain a certificate of conformité i.e. that the works carried out are compliant changed in 2007. The certificate is obtained from the town hall or Maire. This is done by the owner or architect lodging with the Mairie 30 days after the end of the works a report called Déclaration d’achèvement des travaux”.

If the works finished before the 1st October 2007 the Mairie had 3 months to say whether the works complied with the building permission. If the Mairie did not reply the owner could ask for a written response. If the Mairie did not then reply after a one month period the owner was deemed to have obtained from the Mairie a tacit agreement.

After the 1st October 2007, the owner or architect must provide the Maire with a declaration that the works are completed and in accordance with the permission called a Déclaration attestant l’achèvement et la conformité des travaux (D.A.A.C.T.). The responsibility of the works conformité is now on the owner or architect. The Maire generally has the option to inspect within 3 months though in some specific cases the Maire has 5 months to check the works comply with the building permission. This inspection is called récollement and the Mairie can either dispute whether the works are compliant or deliver a certificate of compliance.

This French law has two major consequences for the owners:

1. Their responsibility increases because they must guarantee the works are compliant as required by the building permission. Our advice is to takes someone who knows this matter, like an architect.

2. The deposit of the D.A.A.C.T. at the Maire is very important because it determines the one year starting point for the Mairie to contest the permission.

Only before the 1st October 2007, the works end can also be given by any means, like a water or electricity bill that showed that the living conditions have been met.

But the living conditions can also be used for the starting point of the ten-year warranty extends coverage for any damage that weakens the building or makes it unfit. Our advice is that the seller or the architect declares in the deed of sale the end of works. And if this date is different of the declaration he gives to the buyer the proof. Also we recommend the same declaration if there is no certificate of conformité or a D.A.A.C.T. or a D.A.A.C.T. without the Mairie récollement.

Risks of building works without a certificate of conformité or a D.A.A.C.T. :

In this case, the Maire or neighbours can ask the judge to order the works demolition and criminal penalties.
The statute of limitation for such offences would begin to run from the day on which the D.A.A.C.T. has been deposit or if the works end appears before the 1st October 2007 it’s when the living conditions have been met.

The limitation period depends of the end works date and the sanction type (criminal or civil)

  1. Criminal sanction : 3 years after the end works date.
  2. Civil sanction
    1. If the works end is before the 1st October 2007 : 10 years.
    2. And after the 1st October 2007 : 5 years for the neighbours and 10 years for the Maire.

The criminal penalties could rise at €300,000 and you can not rebuild the property after having deposit a new building permission.

In case of the works built without permission:

There is the same consequence for the works and we can add that the connections of gas, electricity and sewerage are not allowed.

May 2016
Graeme Perry

@Saplaw on Twitter

@SaplawFrance on Twitter