ANYONE looking to sell or rent out a house in France will be required to carry out a review of the property’s energy efficiency and display it in their advert from next year.
The new rule from January 1 is designed to encourage home owners to improve their property’s insulation before putting it on the market.
At present, the diagnostic de performance énergétique (DPE) is obligatory when selling a house, but no mention has to be made of it in the advertisement.
The report will give each property an energy score on a scale from A to G, depending on the home’s energy use in kWh per square metre per year, where A is the most efficient. Estate agents’ network Century21 says more than half of properties in France are ranked E or worse.
Potential buyers and tenants will be able to instantly compare a house’s condition and get an idea of how much their energy bills will cost. The score must appear in all adverts, whether in print, online or in the estate agency itself.
However, estate agents fear the new rule could have a negative impact on sales. They say it will force up the price of new homes and make it much more difficult for older properties to sell. Trade body Fnaim estimates that some sellers will have to knock between 10 and 15 per cent from the asking price.
The new rule adds an extra item to the already long list of transparency requirements that sellers must follow when putting their home on the market. They have a legal obligation to provide a wide range of reports to potential buyers about the condition of their house and any potential risks.
These diagnostic reports should be provided to a buyer before a compromis de vente is signed and they cover areas including asbestos, lead, termites, energy efficiency, natural risks and gas and electricity installations.
The reports are for information purposes and do not bring with them any obligation to get the problems fixed, with the exception of the report on the presence of lead.
They are compiled in a central dossier de diagnostic technique, which needs to be annexed to the compromis de vente that you sign formally to agree an offer on a house.
If any of the reports is missing, the seller remains legally responsible for any problems detected in the house relating to that particular risk. If the natural risk report is missing, the buyer can ask a judge to cancel the contract or seek a price cut.
All the reports, with the exception of the natural risks assessment, are compiled by a professional diagnostiqueur who must be accredited by Cofrac. Some are qualified to carry out all of the tests, while others specialise in certain areas. The natural risks report comes from your préfecture.
An individual report will cost anywhere from e80 to e250, depending on whether you own a studio or a large house. Getting all the reports at once will typically cost e400-e900. Many diagnostiqueurs hope the new rules on energy efficiency scores will encourage property owners to buy the full set of reports in one batch.
Lead: This report is required for all homes built before January 1, 1949, anywhere in France. The study must be no more than a year old, but if it comes back with no traces of lead found (or small amounts below the legal limit) the report can be reused for an indefinite period and does not need to be reissued with each new sale of the property. If potentially dangerous levels of lead are detected, the seller has a responsibility to inform the buyer and fix the problem. It is important that these measures to remove the lead are included in the compromis de vente. Once the sale goes through, the responsibility switches to the buyer. If the lead report is not included in the diagnostic pack and the problem is detected at a later date, the seller has a legal responsibility.
Asbestos: Required for all buildings that received planning permission before July 1, 1997. The report should include details of any building materials that might contain asbestos, their location and how well protected the materials are.
Termites: This only applies to certain departments. Check with your préfecture, mairie or local Adil (Agence départementale pour l’information sur le logement). The assessment must be fewer than six months old and should clearly explain which parts of the house are infested. Other wood-eating creatures and fungi are not covered in the report, but it is still advisable to carry out checks. The seller cannot be held responsible for them if the problem was not apparent at the moment of the sale.
Gas installations: All boilers and pipes that are more than 15 years old need to be checked. The report must be no more than three years old.
Natural risks report: This should clearly set out whether the property is at risk of flooding, forest fires, landslides or in a zone of seismic activity. The report annexed to the compromis de vente should be no more than six months old.
The seller is also legally required to give written details of any incidents that have given rise to insurance payouts since 1982, such as fires or flooding. This should be include in the final contract (acte authentique).
Energy efficiency: This report is compulsory. The assessment is valid for 10 years. It only has an informative value: the buyer has no legal grounds to pull out of a sale because of its contents.
Electricity installations: Required for all properties where the electric supply was installed more than 15 years ago.