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Sewerage systems in France

Nearly 20% of the french population is not connected to the public sewage collection network and must be equipped with non-collective sanitation facilities that are particularly suitable for dispersed settlements.


What are the drainage system standard?

Defective or poorly maintained non-collective sanitation facilities may pose significant health and environmental risks. Located upstream of sensitive and urban areas they impact the drinking water resources

Each dwelling must have a non-polluting drainage system.

  • The system is said to be "collective" when the dwelling (or building) is connected to the sewers by a communal drainage system.
  • The system is said to be "non-collective" when the dwelling (or building) is not connected to a communal drainage system. If this is the case, the dwelling (or building) must have an "independent" installation (septic tank or other arrangement) in order to treat the household waste water individually.

The problem of sanitation is now common in the European Community and the notariat collaborates in the working group on regulation with the French Ministry of ecological transition and Solidarity and the Ministry of Solidarity and Health bringing his expertise. Before buying or selling a property, do not hesitate to consult your notaire to know your rights and obligations. He will advise you to avoid any dispute.


Sewage: What are the rules with a collective waste water?

Connection to sewers is mandatory during 3 events:

  • When applying for a building permit on an area not provided with collective sanitation
  • When rehabilitating a non-conforming installation
  • At a sale of a property with non-collective sewerage system
  • A peculiarity: when a collective sanitation installation settles in limit of ownership

Connection when filing a building permit

Can be placed in non-collective sanitation area parts of the territory of a municipality in which an installation of a collection system does not justify it, either because it would not present interest for the environment, or because the cost would be excessive, by individual systems or other appropriate systems ensuring an identical level of sanitation (pits or other processes). The issuance of a building permit in an area without sanitation is subject to prior approval of the future installation. The petitioner must justify the sizing (number of rooms, attendance, activity ..), the nature of the soil and its permeability and the slope of the ground and provide plans, volume of the pit and surface of the device.

SPANC will issue a notice to attach to the trial file. Once the construction has been completed, the permit holder must obtain from SPANC an inventory report prior to backfilling the system, which will make a visit upon receipt of the work. An application for a non-collective sanitation order will take note of the final configuration of the facility. The certificate of conformity justifies in case of sale of the building the good design of the installation. This document will be required when reselling the building.

When selling a building with non-collective sanitation

In the context of technical diagnoses, when selling a building the regulation requires the submission of a certificate of control of the non-collective sewage system of less than three years old (art L 1331- 11-1 of the Public Health Code). The application must be submitted to the local SPANC who, after checking the installation, will decide on compliance, non-compliance and work requirements, then specifying the causes and the work necessary to overcome the malfunction.

As soon as the visit report indicates a non-compliance, the new owner must carry out the work within one year of the sale (art L 271 of the French Construction and Housing Code). The new owner contacts his SPANC, submits to him the project of rehabilitation of his defective installation in order to obtain the conformity of the project before any realization of works which will then verify their good execution. The notary will check the documents necessary for the drafting of the act and advise the seller regarding the responsibility for hidden defects and the purchaser with regard to the obligations of compliance of the defective installation and append the diagnosis of the non-collective sewage treatment plant, in the preliminary contract and in the act of sale date of the act.

During the rehabilitation of a defective installation

Following a control of a non-collective sewerage system (maximum period of 10 years - Art 2224-8-III al2 of the General Code of Territorial Communities), in case of non-compliance of existing installations that would create proven environmental or health risks, compliance work is prescribed and must be completed within 4 years (L 271-4 of the French Construction and Housing Code) (Art L-1331 -1-1 Public Health Code), while they are only one year, in case of sale of the real estate.

Obligation to connect to the collective network

When a building is located in an area equipped with a sewerage system, whatever the nature and characteristics, the owner has the obligation to connect to the collective network, within two years from commissioning, unless derogation granted by the municipality when the property is difficult to connect and has an autonomous installation receiving domestic wastewater. (art L 1331-1 of the Public Health Code). The owner may be put in default, to connect and put from the establishment of the connection, the previous facility out of service or create nuisances (art.L1331-5 of the Public Health Code). Otherwise, the work can be carried out automatically, at its expense (art L.1331-6 of the Public Health Code). In addition, he will be required to pay an amount at least equal to the fee he would have paid to the public sanitation service if the property had been connected or equipped with a regulatory stand-alone facility.


Sewage: What are the rules with a on-site sanitation

Owners of dwellings not served by a public network have the obligation to equip themselves with an autonomous system (known as individual) for the sanitation of both greywater (toilet water) and greywater (water from washbasins, kitchen, washing machine ...) before rejecting them in the natural environment.

Over the course of regulatory revisions, a realistic and pragmatic approach has been put in place to identify the situations that need to be answered. The protection of the real estate buyer and the setting up of surveys (aiming at greater contractual transparency, lead, termites, gas, electricity, etc.) led to a reflection on the need for "non-collective sanitation" diagnoses to inform the public. purchaser of the impact and consequences, in particular financial consequences, of a restoration, or even the need for an installation or a connection to the collective network following its acquisition.

French Public Non - Collective Sanitation Services (SPANC) have, with the Elan law, been granted autonomy with regards to municipalities. Their role is to verify the proper execution of the construction and rehabilitation works as well as the proper functioning and maintenance of existing installations and to carry out regular checks and possibly to prescribe rehabilitation works.

The purpose of the various regulatory amendments is to establish clear and uniform rules and a gradual renovation of non-collective sanitation facilities based on two axes:

  • The installation of new installations of quality and compliant
  • Priority rehabilitations for installations that present a health hazard or a proven risk of environmental pollution
Frequently asked questions