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Wildfires: The new legal requirements for French property owners

Genevieve Mansfield
Genevieve Mansfield - [email protected]
Wildfires: The new legal requirements for French property owners
A photo shows smoke billowing over burning vegetation during a forest fire, in Bois-de-Champ, eastern France, on June 13, 2023. (Photo by Sébastien BOZON / AFP)

People who own property in areas of France where wildfires are prevalent already have legal responsibilities, but from the start of 2025 these will expand.


Starting on January 1st 2025, people looking to sell or rent property in areas susceptible to wildfires in France will have a legal obligation to inform would-be buyers and renters of prevention requirements from the very start of the transaction. Here's what is changing.

Prospective tenants and buyers will need to be informed whether the property is subject to forest fire prevention requirements, or obligations légales de débroussaillement, "at each stage" of the sale or rental process, according to an announcement from the French government website Service-Public.

This means that a would-be tenant need to be informed during their first visit to the home (if this step occurs), and then the information would need to be included in the lease.

READ MORE: How to protect your French property from wildfires

For potential buyers, the same principle applies.

They would need to be informed during the first visit, and then the information would need to be included in either the promise of sale (promesse de vente), the deed (acte de vente), or the 'reservation contract' (contrat préliminaire en cas de vente en l'état futur d'achèvement).

In both cases, the reference to the forest fire risk should also include a section informing the reader that further information is available on the government website Gé'.

Starting in 2025 it will also include clearing and garden maintenance requirements, as well as an updated map on the wildfire zones.

This website will also include a national map of possible future risk areas for wildfires by December 31, 2026.

READ MORE: MAP: How to check for wildfire alerts in France

What is changing?

As things stand currently, property owners in France must provide prospective buyers and tenants with a risk assessment (Diagnostic immobilier: état des risques). This includes things like natural disasters, seismic activity, exposure to radon includes anything from natural disasters to seismic activity and mining risks (ie located near an old mining site).


Technically, property owners are already required to include any land clearing or garden maintenance requirements as well - within the promise of sale (promesse de vente) and deed (acte de vente), or in the lease (bail) for renters.

The primary change is that would-be buyers and renters will need to have this information included from the very beginning of the process.

What does the wildfire prevention involve?

READ MORE: Wildfire prevention: The legal obligations for French property owners

Householders living in these designated locations, usually close to wooded areas, have a legal requirement to clear and maintain residential areas - this is known as débroussaillage. This may also include a requirement to clear areas that are not part of your property.

During the summer period, you may need to prune trees or clear them complete, if necessary, or cut grass within a certain area of your house. 

The rules are listed in France’s Code Forestier and are applied where required - notably in départements in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Corsica, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Occitanie and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.


You can use this interactive MAP to see the parts of France where this is a legal requirement, rather than a recommendation.

Clearing consists of reducing plant matter of all kinds (grass, branches, leaves, etc.) to reduce the intensity of fires and slow their spread. This may involve, for example, pruning trees or shrubs or eliminating cutting residue (branches, grass, etc.). The prefects determine the conditions for implementing the clearing based on the nature of the risks in the territory in question.



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