Home Maintenance and DIY Improvements

Find out about maintenance regulations and responsibilities of home owners and tenants, plus useful information on making improvements to your home in France...

Home owners in France have certain legal responsibilities when it comes to maintaining their properties - specifically with regard to the removal of fire hazardous undergrowth around a property, septic tank maintenance and the safe disposal of waste water. This section tells you more.

This section also gives information on making changes or improvements to your home: how to go about doing the work and how to ensure it is legally approved. Read on to find out about making changes to your gas, electricity and water supplies, plus details of renewable energies and alternative "green" heating systems. Thinking of adding a swimming pool to your property? Make sure you're aware of the legal safety standards for pool owners.

Information can also be found on damage to your property as a result of a natural disaster, including the provision for natural disasters in home insurance policies and how to file a claim.

Home Maintenance Requirements in France

Whether you live in an apartment or house in France, there are a few regulations that you need to be aware of regarding the maintenance of the land around the property and certain installations. Below is information about the rules regarding:

  • Smoke Detectors
  • Boiler maintenance
  • Cleaning flue pipes and sweeping the chimney
  • Clearing snow

Smoke Detectors

All properties in France must be fitted with at least one functioning smoke detector. If you own a property and rent it out, it is your responsibility to install the smoke detector, but long-term tenants are responsible for checking they work and replacing the batteries. There are no sanctions for not installing a smoke detector, but in the event of a fire, insurance companies may not cover you if there is no smoke detector. When you install a smoke detector, it’s advisable to let your home insurance company know. Service Public has a template letter that you can use to send to your insurer.

Alarms must meet the EN 14604 European standard with the CE logo or the NF EN 14604 equivalent. It is not necessary to have it installed by a professional.

Boiler maintenance

It is compulsory in France to have your heating boiler serviced once a year, although there are no sanctions for not doing so. However, if there is damage to your home due to not having carried out the maintenance, it is likely that your house insurance will not cover the damage. In rented apartments it is the responsibility of the tenant to carry out the boiler maintenance unless stipulated otherwise in the rental agreement.

The requirement applies to all boilers with a power rating of between 4 and 400 Kw. The servicing of your boiler must be carried out by a registered tradesman, who must give you a certificate stating that the service has been carried out. The owner of the property should keep this certificate for two years. The service takes about one hour, and prices will vary depending on the type of boiler and its age, expect to pay between 70 and 200 euros for this service. Some companies offer contracts for the annual maintenance which includes a breakdown service.

Chimney sweeping and cleaning flue pipes

Owners or tenants are obliged to have their chimney swept at least once a year, although there may be local regulations stipulating more frequent cleaning, check with the Town Hall (Mairie). If a chimney is used on business premises, then it must be swept twice a year. Ventilation flues on cookers must be swept every 3 years. 

You must use a professional and registered chimney sweep (ramoneur), who will give you a certificate (certificat de ramonage) once the chimney has been swept. In rented properties it is the responsibility of the tenant to have the chimney swept. In the event of a fire, insurance companies may refuse to pay.

Clearing snow

There is no obligation to clear snow from in front of your house unless stipulated by the Town Hall. This will be shown on notice boards in the Mairie, or on signs near homes that fall under the local regulations.