SPANC requirements and reports for French Property

Overview

From 1 January 20011, and as part of the documentation required by the Notaire transacting the sale of French property, a SPANC (Service Public d'Assainissement Non Collectif) must be provided by the vendor that details the state of the waste water treatment. The fosse septique must either conform, or the incoming buyer must agree to correct any anomalies within one year of purchase.

Already on Mains Sewerage?

There is no need for a SPANC report if there is evidence to support that all of the waste water passes directly to a public sewer. Your Mairie will provide you with a signed and stamped ‘Justificatif’ confirming that you conform.

Background

3 January 1992, all towns and villages saw the responsibility of waste water treatment increased, with Mairies taking over all responsibility for both collective and individual situations. By now, your Mairie should have ensured that all properties are either connected to an urban waste water treatment plant via a sewer (‘ tout-à-l'égout’), or that your property has been subject to a SPANC inspection for which a report has been produced. It is this report that is required for a Compromis de Vente, likely to be called along the lines of ‘Contrôle périodique de bon fonctionnement du Dispositif d’Assainissement Individuel’.

In Practice

To the outsider, it appears that many new regulations like this are not necessarily adhered to. Sadly this is not one of them. Our experience is that Notaires are indeed demanding that these reports are both provided and positive (ie there are no remedial works that must be undertaken to ensure conformity). In situations of non-conformity, buyers are being required to commit to undertake whatever works are required in order to achieve conformity, and within 12 months of purchase. It goes without saying that this is a daunting task (particularly in the cases of international buyers with little or no knowledge of French builders, building techniques, associated costs etc) – and one that they then use to drive considerable discounts off the price.

Timely Preparation

In order to avoid nasty surprises at the eleventh hour, we are asking all vendors to provide us with such reports now for us to hold on file. This enables us to reassure potential buyers during property visits, and makes for a smoother transition from initial negotiations right the way through to successful completion of sale.

Next Steps

If you are on a Fosse Septique system

Could we ask you to send to us, ideally electronically, your SPANC report confirming that you conform please. If the report details any anomalies, please confirm in writing what your plan is to achieve conformity ahead of any sale.

If you are on Mains Sewerage / Drainage

Please send us the signed and stamped ‘justificatif’ from your Mairie confirming this.

No electronic copies?

Please either send us paper photocopies to hold on file, or the originals for us to scan in and return to you by post.

Cost

We can’t quote on behalf of the SPANC, but we have just had news that the whole visit and report has costs an owner (or a property with three separate fosse septiques) only €49. We would very much welcome comments from other owners!

Further Questions

If you are in any doubt as to whether you conform or not, or what your options are, please don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss.

Further information about the correct design and functioning of Fosse Septique systems can be found here.