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Old Nov 6th 2017, 3:35 pm   #1
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Default Mis Sold House has Septic Tank

Hi, I recently discovered that the house that I bought 9 years ago in France actually has a buried septic tank. The sales documents clearly have a declaration by the vendors that the property is connected to the communal sewage. I've been paying for sewage to the water people for all this time and am left feeling that I've been quite naive. The septic tank is definitely not 'aux normes' and will cost me quite a bit to sort out the resultant mess(!) and either replace with a new one or, more likely, get us connected to the communal sewage network. I have also had an illegal installation all this time and risk penalties. My question is what redress do I have? Presumably I have a civil case against the sellers, to the extent I can now track them down and pursue a French case against UK residents, but to what extent should the Notaire have verified this? Any advice/thoughts appreciated.
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Old Nov 6th 2017, 4:32 pm   #2
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Default Re: Mis Sold House has Septic Tank

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Originally Posted by ChrisJH View Post
Hi, I recently discovered that the house that I bought 9 years ago in France actually has a buried septic tank. The sales documents clearly have a declaration by the vendors that the property is connected to the communal sewage. I've been paying for sewage to the water people for all this time and am left feeling that I've been quite naive. The septic tank is definitely not 'aux normes' and will cost me quite a bit to sort out the resultant mess(!) and either replace with a new one or, more likely, get us connected to the communal sewage network. I have also had an illegal installation all this time and risk penalties. My question is what redress do I have? Presumably I have a civil case against the sellers, to the extent I can now track them down and pursue a French case against UK residents, but to what extent should the Notaire have verified this? Any advice/thoughts appreciated.
Are you absolutely sure the house is connected to this tank? It's quite common when going onto mains sewage to simply by-pass the tank and leave it in-situ. Hope this is your case, if not, you can still sue the owner for a "vice caché" and you have 2 years in which to do so after discovery.
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Old Nov 6th 2017, 4:37 pm   #3
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Default Re: Mis Sold House has Septic Tank

Yes - definitely sure. Discovered, finally, because the tank just couldn't take any more... what a mess! Even the septic tank guy was taking photos. Thanks for the 2yr tip.
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Old Nov 7th 2017, 2:12 pm   #4
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Default Re: Mis Sold House has Septic Tank

In theory you can, nowadays, pursue a civil case against residents of another EU country. In practice it is very expensive to do so and almost impossible to enforce even if you get a judgment in your favour.
Try to appeal to their better nature.
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Old Nov 7th 2017, 3:01 pm   #5
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Default Re: Mis Sold House has Septic Tank

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In theory you can, nowadays, pursue a civil case against residents of another EU country. In practice it is very expensive to do so and almost impossible to enforce even if you get a judgment in your favour.
Try to appeal to their better nature.
Do the French have a better nature? I've yet to find Mme TP's.........
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Old Nov 7th 2017, 5:00 pm   #6
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Default Re: Mis Sold House has Septic Tank

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The sales documents clearly have a declaration by the vendors that the property is connected to the communal sewage.
Is the grey water outlet connected to the communal system the grey water must go somewhere? I would enquire with what ever company or association you are paying the drainage fee's to. But I suspect you may have a Fosse that grey water outlet goes into the mains system it's seem odd but lots of folk had Fosse Septic's and then the mains system appeared.

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but to what extent should the Notaire have verified this? Any advice/thoughts appreciated.
How long have you owned the house 2009? is it on a lotissement or in the countryside tout seul?

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I have also had an illegal installation all this time and risk penalties.
Other than the financial burden of rectifying the installation you should be ok as you have just lived life in the fashion of all the legal information provided. A dodgy fosse is no biggy fosse penalties tend to apply once you are given a time limit to rectify an installation at some point it should have had a SPANC inspection "Service Public d’Assainissement Non Collective" and it may have just needed the grey water connecting to a communal system.

Fosse conformity certificate's came in in 2011..
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Old Nov 8th 2017, 7:44 am   #7
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Default Re: Mis Sold House has Septic Tank

I have seen this kind of thing around here - everyone started out with septic tanks, then the mains was installed and everyone had 2 years to get connected in to that. Some did it straight away, others waited 2 years...and some still haven't. In any case, everyone had to start paying the bill as if they were connected at the 2 year anniversary.

In my case I was getting some building work done so wanted to wait to do the sewerage connection at the same time, which ended up being beyond the 2 year limit. The guy at the town water company was very laid back, said he would document that we had connected even though he knew we hadn't and asked that I give him a call when it eventually gets done, which I did. Our neighbour came to a similar arrangement but I know he has never had the work done, so it doesn't surprise me that people find themselves in this position. TBH I would just get on and sort out the connection, life is too short for a long legal process which has a good chance of costing you more than the value of the dispute.
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Old Nov 20th 2017, 12:58 pm   #8
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Default Re: Mis Sold House has Septic Tank

Hi - late response. Thanks for all the thoughts. I was quite wound-up about it initially but, as has been said, life's too short. I definitely need to get it sorted reasonably soon as everything (incl. water from roof!) is going into it. Fortunately my neighbour has a similar problem and we are exploring a shared project to get connected.
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Old Nov 20th 2017, 4:07 pm   #9
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Default Re: Mis Sold House has Septic Tank

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Hi - late response. Thanks for all the thoughts. I was quite wound-up about it initially but, as has been said, life's too short. I definitely need to get it sorted reasonably soon as everything (incl. water from roof!) is going into it. Fortunately my neighbour has a similar problem and we are exploring a shared project to get connected.
This is happening all the time, get things up to the latest standard and low and behold the regs change.
I had fosse septics out of regs twice including my present property which is six years now but works well so I'm not changing it.
It's very well known that when it comes up on a purchase if its French buying they ignore it but the brits panic and go ahead and get ripped off with a new tank system.
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Old Nov 20th 2017, 5:16 pm   #10
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Default Re: Mis Sold House has Septic Tank

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This is happening all the time, get things up to the latest standard and low and behold the regs change.
I had fosse septics out of regs twice including my present property which is six years now but works well so I'm not changing it.
It's very well known that when it comes up on a purchase if its French buying they ignore it but the brits panic and go ahead and get ripped off with a new tank system.
Not necessarily so. A French couple was buying my late neighbour's house and when they discovered that the fosse septique had to be replaced, they offered to deduct the cost of installing a new one from the selling price. Deal accepted immediately by the UK heirs, who didn't want the bother of organising it themselves from afar.
@ChrisJH - I would have thought that rainwater from the roof (and "everything") would dilute the tank contents too much and prevent the good bacteria from doing their job? Rainwater would be better directed into water butts...
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Old Nov 21st 2017, 10:15 am   #11
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Default Re: Mis Sold House has Septic Tank

Our rainwater from the roof goes directly into the well and did so even before we got the mains drainage, for that very reason
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