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Explained: The new rules for selling houses in France

From September 2022, anyone who wants to sell an older house in France may have to pay for a €700-800 energy audit of their property.

Snow covers a house in eastern France. The government is set to make it harder for people to sell energy inefficient housing from September 2022.
Snow covers a house in eastern France. The government is set to make it harder for people to sell energy inefficient housing from September 2022. (Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP)

The regulations form part of the Climate and Resilience law and will come into force in September 2022. 

Currently, if you plan to sell or rent a property in France, you need to provide a diagnostic de performance énergétique (DPE), which is a document that serves as an estimate for the property’s energy consumption.

Depending on the result of the DPE, your property will be ranked from A (the most energy efficient) to G (the least energy efficient). 

Source: ecologie.gouv.fr

In France, properties that fall into the F and G categories are known as passoires thermales – or heat sinks. According to Le Parisien, some 4.8 million properties in France fall into this category, generally older properties or those in poor repair. 

The cost of obtaining a DPE generally ranges between €100-250 depending on the size of the property and when it was built. You can find a certified list of DPE providers here and here

So what changes? 

From September, anyone who want to sell a property that is ranked in the F or G categories (ie those that are projected to need a minimum 330 KWh/m2 of energy per year) will also need to pay for an audit énergétique

This is like a far more precise version of the DPE and aims to inform future buyers not only of the likely energy bills but also of the cost of renovations needed to make the property fall into the B class. 

Real estate experts are worried that there will not be enough trained professionals to carry out the audits énergétiques. The implementation of this new requirement was supposed to go ahead in January 2022 and has already been pushed back by eight months. 

The cost of an audit énergétique falls on those who are trying to sell and is estimated at around €700-800. 

If you are considering renovating a property in France to make it more energy efficient, this is a good time to do so. The government is backing zero percent interest loans and other measure to make it economical to do so. You can read more about these measures HERE

There is also another incentive: if your property is seriously energy inefficient (requires more than 450 KWh/m2 per year), you will not be allowed to rent it out from 2023. 

Eventually, the audit will also apply to homes in the E class, as of January 1, 2025, and then later to homes in the D class from January 1, 2034.

Who can carry out the audit?

As of early May, the French government released its requirements for who is certified to perform these services, which differs based on whether you live in a ‘multi-dwelling residential building’ or an ‘individual house.’ 

For the former, you can either use an engineering firm with a specific qualifications (this is called a “OPQIBI 1905”) or registered architects. For individual houses, you can also use qualified engineering firms (in this case, called a “OPQIBI 1911”), as well as  companies certified with “RGE offre globale” and certified home inspectors. For more information, read HERE.

Member comments

  1. There is also another incentive: if your property is seriously energy inefficient (requires more than 450 KWh/m2 per year), you will not be allowed to rent it out from 2023

    Does this count for gites also? or only for main residences?

  2. Welcome to North Korea. France is one of the most controlling countries in the world. Over the last five years it’s gone worse, and it’s all down to the inexperienced people Macron has appointed.

  3. Regarding this specific issue Boggy – incentivizing renovation works/raising awareness of the climate impact of “heat sinks” via mandatory energy analyses – it seems a tad far fetched to invoke North Korea as a comparison. France is one of the few countries actively mobilizing its citizens (from the proactive to the sluggish) in waking up and taking action in every regard to combat the climate emergency. Yes, an energy audit is annoying and expensive and there will be people who find the extra cost an unfair burden. Yet it is a minuscule and temporary inconvenience in the grand scheme of what is necessary to implement to have a chance at limiting runaway emissions and a rapidly heating planet. If we had all taken personal responsibility and done what we could privately to help make our homes efficient/recycle etc etc the government wouldn’t have needed to nanny us through it in the first place. I would love to live in a world that didn’t need onerous and patronizing regulations/carrot and stick incentives and red tape but unfortunately people have proven themselves too stupid and selfish.

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CRIME

EXPLAINED: How to find a lawyer in France

The French legal system can be complicated, so in many circumstances it's better to have a lawyer on board. Luckily, there are a lot of qualified, English-speaking lawyers in France - here's how to find them.

EXPLAINED: How to find a lawyer in France

First steps

First, you need to know exactly what it is you are looking to address – is it an immigration issue? Property-related? Are you caught up in the criminal system?

This will help you to determine the type of expert that you need.

If your concern deals with property or a will, you probably want a notaire rather than an avocat (explained below).

All lawyers in France must have at least a CAPA (Certificat d’Aptitude à la Profession d’Avocat) master’s degree in law. After working for four years, French lawyers are able to work toward a specialisation.

Next, you need to decide whether you are confident enough in your French to seek out legal advice in French, or if you will need a fully bilingual lawyer. Don’t worry – there are plenty of lawyers in France who speak English, but unsurprisingly it will be easier to find a lawyer in French. 

Where should I look?

A good resource available to you is your Embassy and its website, as well as the websites for other English-speaking countries’ embassies. For example, the British, American, and Australian embassies all have extensive lists of recommended English-speaking lawyers in France (by region and speciality). 

Other online resources include the website “AngloInfo,” along with Facebook groups moderated by lawyers and notaires (ex. Strictly Legal France). 

If you are confident enough to go through the French system in French, then you can search directly through your local barreau (bar) via their online annuaire (directory). 

One thing to keep in mind, according to Maître Matthieu Chirez, a criminal attorney at J.P. Karsenty & Associés law firm, which is one of the British Embassy’s recommended law firms, is that foreigners ought to be vigilant when using the internet to find a lawyer.

“The lawyers who are most visible on the internet are not always the best,” said Chirez. “It is always best to go through your embassy first.” 

What criteria should I prioritise?

It is worth considering your lawyer’s level of expertise: How many cases similar to yours have they handled? How long have they been practising law? Do they come recommended? By going through your Embassy’s resources, you can have more peace of mind that the lawyer you would be working with fits these criteria. 

You should also prioritise your own rapport with the lawyer. If possible, try to schedule a preliminary meeting or consultation (before doing so, be sure to check to see whether this will be charged or not). This will help you also determine whether the lawyer has a satisfactory level of English for your needs.

What is the difference between a notaire and an avocat?

A notaire’s role is to secure and make official concerns related to a “sale, purchase, or transmission” or a property, as explained Chirez.

A notaire cannot represent you in court, but they will be necessary for making official matters related to succession, like writing your Will, for instance, and officially registering the sale of a property. A property sale in France cannot be legally completed without the involvement of a notaire.

It is important to note that a notaire is a representative of the French state, so having a personal lawyer looking out for your individual best interest during a sale or purchase might still be advisable.

And yes, avocat means both lawyer and avocado in French.

READ MORE: The reasons why you’ll need a notaire in France

What about payment?

In France, it is the lawyer who sets his or her own fees – meaning it is not regulated by the State.

Average rates will depend on the ‘complexity of your case’ and the specialisation of your lawyer, but the average hourly rate for 2022 is between €100 and €300.

Criminal lawyers often charge more for drink-driving cases.

You can pay a lawyer either based on their hourly rate or by a flat-rate (usually reserved for simple procedures). When you find a lawyer, you will have to sign an agreement that outlines their fees, as well as various additional costs that might be incurred.

If you cannot afford to pay your lawyer, you might be able to qualify for legal aid (though for this you must demonstrate a sufficiently low income/ wealth status). The rate of legal aid is calculated based off your earnings, and you can use the online calculator to see how much you would benefit HERE.

READ ALSO How do I find professional help with my French taxes?

Otherwise, you can check to see whether any “permenance juridiques” (legal clinics) will be held near you.

These tend to be free days where you can seek out legal support (though it is worth verifying it is indeed gratuite before going). For finding legal aid in France, you can use this government website, which is also available in English.

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