Official website of Notaires de France

Buildings in a very poor state of repair


When a building is a danger to the safety of occupants, neighbors or passersby, the mayor (or the prefect of police in Paris) can initiate a risk of proceedings against the owner to take the necessary measures

  • When can the mayor to implement a risk procedure?

    • Where they are aware of disorders affecting a building, the mayor can use his special police to be able to trigger a risk procedure.

    • The danger must be real, current and could cause in the short term serious problems for the safety of occupants, neighbors or passersby (a special procedure was also created in December 2008 to the ruin of tombstones in cemeteries).

  • What are the main steps of the procedure?

    • Mayor starts notify (in writing) to the owner that the risk of procedure will be taken against him.
      If the disorder persists, the mayor takes unfitness giving notice to the building owner to carry out the repair or demolition within a period of minimum one month.

    • The completion of the work required by the order is recorded by an expert appointed by the municipality.

    • The expert submits a report to the mayor who, given this report, issues an order acknowledging the completion of the work and ordering the release of the order if the work ended permanently at the risk of the building.

  • How to distinguish between normal risk and imminent danger?

    • The choice between these two procedures must be assessed by the mayor according to the hazard of the building:
      - Ordinary risk procedure when the danger is not immediate;
      - The risk of imminent proceedings when warranted a very rapid response.
      In this case, an expert is appointed at the request of the mayor, a judge in chambers.

    • This expert is to examine the strength of the building within 24 hours after his appointment. It must draw up a report and propose technical measures to stop the imminent danger.

  • What are the duties of the mayor?

    • The assessment of urgency is for the mayor and secondarily to the expert notes that the inventory. While the mayor's initiative for starting the procedure, it remains bound by the findings of the expert to confirm or invalidate the imminence of the danger.

    • If the state of the building foreshadows the collapse or falling materials before the ordinary procedure has resulted in a positive solution, the mayor must engage the emergency procedure (imminent danger). But if the expert believes that there is no emergency, the mayor is obliged to take the ordinary procedure known.

    • However, the emergency procedure and the ordinary procedure can be carried out concurrently, for example to allow the mayor to support emergency a section of wall (a responsibility of the municipality exists for non-use by the mayor of his police powers), even get subsequently to the administrative court, permission to demolish or repair the building supported if the owner does not do the work.

Notaires are frequently contacted by mayors concerned about buildings in a very poor state of repair, usually following family disagreements. The notaire will strive to find an amicable solution or, failing this, advise the mayor and his/her staff on the most suitable proceedings. ­