Do you have a non-compliant septic tank in your hour in France?

You are the owner of a house using a septic tank or sewage treatment plant and you would like to sell it? There are about 5 million dwellings in France equipped with them, 80% of which are estimated to be in a non-compliance situation. If you are part of it or just curious, this article is for you.

Non Compliant Septic tank?

Non compliant septic tank, a great risk for the environment & public health.

Sanitation is about improving the health status of the environment. In general, it concerns the treatment and evacuation of liquid and solid waste. From this definition, we already understand the risk that sanitation represents for the ecological health of man, fauna and flora. For dwellings not connected to public sewer networks, “tout-a-l’égout”, they must treat their own wastewater using septic tanks or sewage treatment plants. It goes without saying that the risk becomes higher, especially in the event of non-compliant systems. The latest statistics show nearly 600,000 homes are discharging their wastewater into the wild.


How does the sale of a house with a non compliant septic tank work?

Generally, the sale of a house equipped with a septic tank our wastewater treatment plant follows the same procedures and procedures as if it were any other property. However, there is a major difference, particularly regarding the certificates to be provided. Indeed, such a system is highly regulated because of the potential risks it presents to the environment. Thus, since 2012, the Real Estate Act has strengthened the mandatory diagnoses when buying or selling a property. Among them is the sanitation diagnosis. After the inspection, 5 opinions can be given: 

  • No deficiencies detected
  • Wear or maintenance defect
  • Incomplete system, inadequate size or major malfunction
  • Structural failure or high safety risk
  • No device installed

After the inspection, the non-compliant sanitation diagnosis will serve as a certificate that will follow the sales documents.

How to detect non compliance?

While the system’s installation can be entrusted to a professional, its diagnosis can only be made by a single entity, the Non-Collective Public Sanitation Service. Indeed, the SPANC is the only body authorised to monitor the compliance of non-collective sanitation. For an owner who wants to know if his system is compliant or not, he has an obligation to contact the nearest SPANC (local authorities). This service is normally available in all municipalities. If the owner does not know the SPANC to which he is subject, he can always contact his local council who will make the connection.

Who are the actors involved and their roles?

Apart from the usual actors involved in selling a property, for selling a house with a non-compliant septic tank, there are 3 who have their own roles and obligations.

  • The owner or seller

It is the one who holds the title to the property of the house in question and has the will to sell it. In addition to the traditional procedures, such as the precise issue of his offer, he must ensure that he has all the documents required by law. Among them, he must provide all the certificates of conformity of his house by making the mandatory real estate diagnoses, particularly with regard to his sewage treatment system. Article L. 271-4 of the French Building and Housing Code requires compliance work to be carried out within one year of the sale in the event of non-compliance. Although this obligation applies to the purchaser, the latter may not complete the purchase or negotiate a discount on the price. Thus, the seller will have to find an agreement with the buyer so that the sale can still be made.

  • The buyer or the acquirer

He is the one who intends to buy the house in question. With regard to Article L. 271-4 mentioned above, before the conclusion of the purchase, he has an obligation to check the conformity of the acquisition in order not to carry out the various rehabilitation works, which may be expensive. However, no sanctions are provided in the event of non-compliance with the one-year time limit.

  • The notary

A specialist is in charge of checking all documents relating to the sale so it can be carried out. He will then be able to draw up the deed of sale, which must be signed by the seller and the buyer in his presence. He can also provide advice to both parties involved in the sale.

If you follow the right process, the SPANC will finally deliver a certificate of compliance for your wastewater treatment installation. This document will be legal proof that your sewage treatment plant is upgraded and respects the law.

Do you need more information?