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Is there an official flooding risk watchdog in France?

Sarah Bright-Thomas of Bright Avocats answers a reader query on how to check if a property is in an area at risk of flooding

You can now search by street address for risk of flooding on a new French government site Pic: p.guayacan / Wikimedia Commons

Reader question: How do we check if an area where we are thinking of making an offer on a property is at risk of flooding? The estate agent says no, but we would rather check somewhere “official” before we go to the notaire’s office to sign.

Estate agents can be trusted on things like official risk factors in France. They face heavy penalties if they are found to have lied or concealed problems in their property descriptions.

Otherwise, a simple answer is to go to the mairie and to ask to see the maps detailing flooding risk.

Communes started preparing these maps around 2005 – it has been traumatic in some villages, as people saw land with pleasant riverside settings they had been planning to build on, or sell for building in the future, lose its value.

This year, the French government launched a new site that details risk according to street addresses.

As well as flood risk, it includes earthquake risk, subsidence and from sinkholes, radon gas, and earth slides. Reading this can be like reading the list of side-effects on a medicine packet – you have to decide if they are deal-breakers.

Risk is an obligatory section of the technical diagnostic annexe in a promesse de vente, l’acte authentique de vente or a contrat de location.

You can ask the notaire to see it before signing date.

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