Unmaintained property is an uninsured property
Property owners who fail to maintain their homes adequately cannot later make claims on their insurance relating to these buildings.
That’s the ruling of the Cour de Cassation – one of the four courts of last resort in France that has jurisdiction over civil and criminal matters.
It ruled on an owner who had allowed a building to collapse despite repeated warnings from neighbours over a 12-month period about its dangerously decrepit state.
He was guilty of a “fraudulent fault” when he made a claim on his insurance after it eventually collapsed.
The court decided that the owner had knowingly allowed the damage to occur and get worse, thus removing the uncertainty on which the principle of insurance is based.
He had therefore committed a deliberate fault, knowing that damage would occur. The owner had made the claim to cover the cost of repairing the neighbours’ property, which had been damaged when the building collapsed, and to rebuild their own property.
The case went to court when the insurers refused to pay out.
The court ruled that the insurers were correct to refuse to honour the claim because damage had become certain as a result of the insured’s attitude and lack of maintenance.
By persistently refusing to carry out repair work to maintain the property to a safe standard, the owner had “made it inevitable” that it would become damaged.
The court ruled that the owner, rather than the insurer, was solely responsible for the costs of repairing damage to the neighbours’ property and of rebuilding the collapsed property.