Sold a house on main drainage, now we find it isn't!

Hi everyone,
We are currently selling a house that we bought 4 years ago. When we bought it the estate agent told us it was connected to main drains,we still have the property description and it is there in writing.
Our buyer’s notaire has demanded that Saur confirm this,but when they visited today and investigated, they said the house is not connected.
Do we have any comeback to the agent who sold it to us or is it tough luck?
We get on well with the agent (she is selling the house for us) but wonder if she is liable and would have insurance. Advice would be gratefully received.

Hi Caryn
I’m not sure advertising blurb is legally binding…

If you bought the house only 4 years ago… I would have thought it should have some sort of Report available to any would be Buyer… but maybe that came in a little later…

What is the description in the proper, legal documentation… ?
Have you spoken with the notaire who was involved when you bought the property…?

this does sound very odd, since the Sessions I have sat in on with Brits… the Notaire discusses every aspect of the Property…

However, what is the system you do have… perhaps you could contact SPANC and find out what you DO have and what condition it is in.

At least you would then know what you are “battling” with…


Intrigued to know what has been happening in the meantime with you living in it? Is there a fosse septique or toutes eaux? Which is what many of us have in the country? If so, then is it a problem? Shouldn’t affect the sale price.

especially as «getting connected» can cost a considerable sum if there is no legal reason to do so…

Heavens! Could you live for four years with a fosse and not know!

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But the alternative - no fosse, no mains connection could be even more of a “heavens” thought!

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Sorry, this doesn’t really add up. There must have been a diagnostic done which should very clearly state the conformity of the "assainissement " and this is included in the CdV. Maybe something was lost in translation???


I expect there are a few old houses with such a system!

Caryn - You have no comeback on the agent or notaire, look in the ´suspensive clauses’ in your contract and it will be stated.

Ronald Fox and Mark Robbins - By pure coincidence my previous house, bought in 2005 had stated in the Acte de Vente that it was on mains drainage. When I came to resell a couple of years back I was informed By the notaire before signing that actually it had a septic tank which had become buried under tarmac. The new owners understood the misunderstanding, knowing that it wasn’t my fault and asked an estimate to get the house connected to the mains line at the bottom of the garden in the road.
We had an amicable signing and the error was put down as being ´one of those things’

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The full diagnostic requirement came in after that, think SPANC originated in 2008.

Ah, that would explain it then.

Thank you all for your help. We have gone though the diagnostics for the CdeV and no mention of the drainage which is presumably why Saur were asked to testify.
Thank you for the clarity Peter, we get on very well with the estate agent so are relieved it’s not their fault.
This is a town house so we are wondering if Saur have investigated the wrong drain, the situation is to be looked at next week ,but yes in 4 years there was no indication of a fosse septique!

Have you been charged for sewage on your water bills? “Assainissments”. If so you have mains drainage. Also if your Acte de Vente says you are on mains drainage, somebody lied. This is legally binding whereas Estate Agent blurb isn’t.


It could well be their fault or indeed the fault of the notaire but the thing is they can’t be held to account.

Are you sure that is correct, Jackie? We pay Assainissements but have no mains drainage. Apparently it is for the water which runs off our land and down into the valley and presumably directed into the river?

really? Why should you be charged for that? I’m only going by friends who have a septic tank who pay very little and there is no “assainissement” on their bill. But each water company will have its own methods I guess.

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I must admit to being surprised myself, but I suppose they have to maintain the drainage system down the hill in order to direct the rain runoff from our property away from the roads.

Caryn, check the purchase contract. There will be a clause concerning the Assainissement. It should look something like this: Drainage declaration.

If the seller declares that the house is connected to the mains and then you find that it isn’t, then that is a false declaration and you should follow that up with your notaire. You could argue that it is a " défaut de délivrance" that you want repaired prior to your sale.

If, on the other hand, the clause in your purchase contract says that the property is not connected (i.e. it has assainissement non-collective), then the agent has a problem of lack of care.

Either way, if there is Mains drainage available to the property, the owner is obliged to connect it, if not now then certainly when you sell the buyer will have that obligation.

My first advice would be to check that contract.

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Thank you Tony we’ll check the contract,but unfortunately the estate agent has it at the moment to provide our buyer’s notaire with some info he wants. The lady we bought it off was english, living in the UK.I think she genuinely thought it had mains drains and I can’t believe she would do anything about it now. Unless Saur have looked at the wrong drain, I can imagine it will be as Peter said ‘just one of those things’!

With respect Tony the notaire and/ or the agent cannot be prosecuted as they were working on information given to them in good faith.
Look in the suspensive conditions in any contract and the first clause ( usually) states that the buyer accepts the property in the condition it is found in without any recourse to the notaire or agent.