Over 11 million French homes at risk of cracking due to drought, report finds

The Local France
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Over 11 million French homes at risk of cracking due to drought, report finds
A home with a large crack, due to drought, in France in 2003 (Photo by BRUNO FERRANDEZ / AFP)

A new report commissioned by the French government has found that millions of French homes are at risk of structural damage, exacerbated by drought.


Millions of French households are at risk of costly damage to the structure of their homes due to cracks and fissures, according to the findings of a new report by French MP, Vincent Ledoux.

Ledoux was commissioned by the French government to launch a six-month fact-finding mission to determine the scale of cracks - which are often caused by soil movement and shrinkage due to drought - across France.

The MP submitted his report, with results and recommendations, to France's ministry of Interior on Monday.

According to the French media France Bleu, 11 million homes, are exposed to the costly damage to their homes due to soil shrinkage and swelling (in French: phénomène de retrait-gonflement des argiles, or RGA). 


In response, Interior minister Gérald Darmanin posted an image of a home being held up by wooden planks with the caption that the government would "do more to help our fellow citizens who are victims" and that it will draw on the conclusions found in the report.

Ledoux told France Bleu that he hopes the report "will be the start of profound change", and that the interior minister had promised to organise meetings every three to six months to review progress on the issue.

Calls for the government to respond 

In the report, Ledoux listed several recommendations for how the government should respond, including adding greater 'natural disaster' recognition for houses with cracks so that they are eligible for the same compensation and insurance support as a home affected by other disasters such as earthquakes or floods.

READ MORE: What does a state of 'natural disaster' mean in France?

Last month, France's Journal Officiel published a decree designating 1,022 more communes across the country as 'natural disaster zones' for drought, based on information from 2021 and 2022.

You can find the total list of communes under 'natural disaster status' here.

France Bleu also said that the report called for reducing processing times for insurance reports and requiring that insurance providers pass all information, including the conclusions of the expert report, to claimants.

The MP also hopes to require sellers to provide potential buyers with a comprehensive analysis of the building and its risks for cracks, via soil shrinkage and swelling. 


He also recommended creating 1,000 soil monitoring stations in the most at-risk municipalities to improve assessments of damaged homes. 

According to insurance provider France Assureurs, drought induced soil shrinkage and swelling caused almost €2.9 billion worth of claims in 2022, with this figure expected to triple by 2050 as droughts become more pervasive across France's territory.


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