Foss question

We are currently renting a property but a few weeks ago the owner said we could buy it. However the foss inspection has said it needs a new foss 9/10k. The owner is saying that if he doesn’t sell to us but keeps renting he doesn’t have to change it hence we should foot the bill. Is this correct? Why do I have to change it if I buy it but the current owner does not?

It is quite normal for the fosse to need to be replaced within a year of a sale. Most buyers use the cost as a negotiating tool when fixing the price.

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It was one compromise made when “they” decided to have every fosse in the country inspected. If it was found not to conform, as most older installations would, but no danger to health, then if the property was ever sold, then the new owner had a year (stretch to 2) to get a new system installed. Of course, if the property isn’t sold then nothing needs to be done. As David said, use it as a negotiation tactic.


Regarding the price to re-do the Fosse…prices can vary and soar…
If you do not have a detailed plan/quote done quite recently, I would suggest the following:

Before you consider buying… get someone from SPANC to visit the property, inspect the system and detail exactly what needs to be done… remember to tell them of any extra bedrooms/gites or whatever you might be adding/moving. (that site-visit will cost you 60 or 70 euros) …

Then get a local Fosse contractor to give you a quote for that work (written detailed quote -free). At least then you have the full facts and costs. This up-to-date quote can be set against the purchase price… as Mark says.

I am currently helping a couple who have just bought and are in the Fosse-process. The fosse did not conform…(in this instance, because it could not be found due to jungle conditions)… and an undetailed quote with a ballpark figure was allowed-for in the purchase price.

However, the SPANC Inspector has now visited. The garden has been tidied and we’ve found what is where and what is missing…and we’ve allowed for the proposed extension. Finally we’ve got a detailed plan of what to get done. This is going to cost quite a bit more than the originally suggested amount… :cry:

In my view it would be worth 60/70 euros to be sure just what you are taking on… SPANC = Service Public d’Assainissement Non Collectif

Le Service Public d'Assainissement Non Collectif (SPANC) - Portail interministériel sur l'assainissement non collectif


When was the fosse inspected ?

As I understand it, since SPANC has visited and said it does not conform then the ‘owner’ of the property is obliged to put it into spec within a given period.

If the house had a ‘fosse diagnostic’ undertaken (which is something different) because the house was being put up for sale then the owner does not have to put into spec but the buyer within one year.

Either way, the owner has to pay for it either by you knocking off 10k euros of the asking price or the owner doing it whilst renting it out. The owner pays !!

It annoys me to hell people who don’t have correctly operating septic tanks as it is just pollution.

Is the owner ‘British’ ?

No they are French. The problem is they don’t have to sell but because we wher going to buy another house (as they had always said no to us buying it) on the day we where due to sign he said we could buy! But he isn’t desperate so it’s a tricky situation.
If the property is rented out by law should the foss conform?

Hi Lydia…

I thought landlords had a duty to ensure property they rented out was “aux normes” …but it’s not my area of expertise… :wink:

I’ll ask the question today… we have an Old Soldiers’ Luncheon and most of the local bigwigs will be there… so someone should know the answer.

Aren’t we over-reacting a tad? I think the issue here is that SPANC requirements are set very high these days, you could say at an aspirational level. Just because a fosse doesn’t fully comply with current normes, does not at all mean that it’s causing pollution or isn’t fit for use, it just means that it is not up to the standard that France is aiming to achieve in the long term. It’s obviously unrealistic to expect every functional but antiquated fosse in France to be upgraded at the drop of a hat - people can’t afford it - so the theory is that by exerting gentle pressure each time a property changes hands, there will be a gradual steady improvement nationwide and many generations down the line most properties will have changed hands and most fosses will be compliant. (And then no doubt they’ll hike the normes again :slight_smile:) But it will take a long time because at the moment it seems that very few if any penalties are being imposed if upgrades aren’t being done when they should, as long as the existing fosse is still doing its job.
It’s a bit like encouraging us all to ditch our 100% carbon-fuelled cars and buy low-polluting models - you can offer carrots and wave a few sticks around and hope people will switch, but you have to be tolerant and recognise that it will take a long time.

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Anna… over-reacting… rather depends on the state of the fosse in question…

The idea is to get kitchen waste water (at least) going through a grease-trap (cleaned out every 2-3 years or as necessary), all water then on into a working fosse septique (emptied perhaps every 5-10 years)…then drainage of the “cleaned” water across the land… with no pollution of waterways…:slight_smile:

The situation I am helping with at the moment (new owners)…we now find it has kitchen water going into the garden somewhere and after that, who knows where… the toilet etc… goes off in a completely different direction, through a broken fosse…and spills, untreated, into the waterway… and none of this is acceptable in this day and age. :angry:

It is true that not many folk are fined, but the idea is to encourage folk (with financial aid for those on low incomes) rather than the big-stick approach.

Frankly, everyone should have a decent working sewage system…and upgrading is only necessary where a fosse is NOT doing its job… so I cannot imagine why someone would fight against the idea… perhaps folk will come forward and enlighten me… :wink:

Our home had no fosse at all… just a 12th century tunnel ! so glad that mains drainage has come to our village. :grin: (we were preparing to put in a static tank, but it was not necessary)

My point was that if you’re going to regard everyone with a non-conforme fosse as a criminal then that’s probably a good proportion of the population of rural France. Any system that was not installed recently is unlikely to be fully compliant today even though it still does its job perfectly well and if left alone would continue to do so for many years to come. It was designed to meet the normes at the time it was manufactured and installed, and was considered good enough in its day, but it wouldn’t tick all the new boxes because it was never designed to, so a new owner would still be required to upgrade, ie have a serviceable system with years of life left in it taken out and replaced by a more modern system. Frankly I wouldn’t be over ecstatic at the prospect but since fortunately I’m on mains drainage too that doesn’t matter.

I totally agree it depends entirely on the state of the fosse in question and I’m specifically talking about those that don’t cause pollution or smell or any kind of problems, but have failed on a technicality, for instance their capacity may on paper not meet current requirements for the size of the property (even though it may be a 5 bedroom property with only 2 people living there). SPANC would rate this as needing to be upgraded. A non-working fosse would be rated as requiring urgent remedial action, they are 2 different categories.

Anna… quite often the only “modern” thing missing is a grease trap… and that can be swiftly remedied. As I say… if it works properly, all well and good… if not, it needs attention of some sort (and this is not necessarily expensive) … not every old system has been “condemned”…:slight_smile:

I would add that the authorities are, in fact, treating each situation as a separate case and not bundling everyone under the legislation…

When buying a property… this is an ideal moment for the emphasis to be placed on getting the sewage system fully up to scratch… and the cost should be reflected in the asking price…

Isn’t the thing to do ask to see the report instead of speculating about it.Then decide if you want continue with the sale

I think that you are missing the point of the OP. She simply can’t understand why the fosse is deemed to be OK as it is in the rented house yet would need upgrading if she bought it. Same house, same fosse, same person, different standards.

I don’t think I am missing the point at all, asking to see the report is the logical thing to do.At least you will know what work is required, as stated above when the house hasn’t come on the market then nothing needs to be done by the present owner.

That is an important point but a different point.

OK folks… I was hoping to get a definitive answer to one question which has been raised: Is the Landlord bound to put the fosse aux normes…or can it wait until the property is sold…???

Probably as a result of the free-flowing aperos etc…along with all the other alcoholic beverages (hic hic)…at yesterday’s Luncheon… no clear answer was forthcoming… however, it was mentioned that the local council (as Landlord) had to bring the Bar/Resto up to current-day normes (in every aspect) every time there was a change of Tenant…

Likewise, the council houses… when a Tenant moved out… the workmen moved in… and it can get very expensive…

Anyway… I will be speaking with SPANC tomorrow and will report back asap.

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Yes I just couldn’t understand why he is allowed to rent it as a four bedroom property when if I buy it I have to change it because it doesn’t comply. They say it isn’t big enough to service the house which I believe as when we have a shower we have to use a plunger to make the water go away. Lots of gurgling sounds as well. Just doesn’t seem fair.

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Thats fab - would be grateful for the answer.

The shower might not even go into the fosse if is NC, it may well just be a build up of “slime” and a hefty dose of a déboucher (from all supermarkets) down the plug hole should do the trick.

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I suspect the answer is going to be, because that’s what French law says.
Look at it this way. If the question of purchase had not come up, he wouldn’t have mentioned the issue to you and you’d presumably have continued living there without any of this ever crossing your mind, and it wouldn’t have occurred to you to think anything unfair.
A gurgling shower is very unlikely to have any connection with the size of the fosse in any case. For one thing your grey water will not be going into the main tank if it’s not a fosse toutes eaux, gurgling noises are usually down a blockage somewhere as Mark says, or a blocked vent. If the fosse was full, as you seem to be thinking, you’d know about it!

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