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Home sold with 'illegal' drains

Reader query: I am concerned that the drains that came with the house I have bought are dangerous

I BOUGHT my house in the Dordogne in 2007 and was told by the vendor that the house effluent drained into the rocks. I assumed this was some natural drainage system particular to this area, which is very rocky. I was also told that the commune would be putting in a mains drainage system.
I have since found out that the effluent flows from a pipe in front of my house into a storm drain belonging to the commune. My pipe was damaged by frost and I asked my marie for permission to dig it up and replace it.
They sent an expert, who told me my drainage system was illegal now and would have to be changed. I wonder when the law changed as regards this problem.
I am concerned the drainage system may have been illegal when the house was sold to me. The area is very rocky, with no depth of soil, and I fear that there is nowhere to site a septic tank on my small plot and that my house may be condemned. M.K.

A legal expert from national housing information body Anil said a system where the waste water flows into a communal storm drain was not acceptable, but this was not the result of a recent legal change (where a home is not linked up to a communal system, a septic tank is usual).

He said the fact the home was sold with this system may constitute a defect in the property, especially if it was not mentioned in the sale contract, and you may be able to take legal action against the seller.

The expert added that your local Adil (the departmental level of Anil) should be able to advise, but it would require a study of documents such as your sale contract.

You can get free advice from Adil Dordogne, which has branches in Périgueux and Bergerac (tel: 05 53 09 89 89), or

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