Unsanitary housing

Verified 08 February 2021 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

If a building or dwelling presents a danger to the health or safety of its occupants, the prefect may initiate an unsanitary procedure. Depending on the urgency, certain measures can be taken (evacuation, demolition,...). The unsanitary procedure concerns only the condition of the building or dwelling or its conditions of occupation. If it is a problem of solidity, the procedure will be that of peril (building threatening ruin).

Any dwelling, building or facility that poses a danger or risk to the health or physical safety of persons is unsanitary.

The presence of degraded coatings containing lead can make housing unhealthy.

In addition, the following premises cannot be rented for residential use, as they are considered unsanitary for the dwelling:

  • Cellars
  • Basements
  • Floodgates
  • Rooms with low ceiling height
  • Living rooms without opening to the outside or without sufficient natural illumination or of a small configuration
  • Premises used in conditions which clearly lead to overcrowding

A person having knowledge of facts revealing a situation of unsanitary conditions must report it to the prefect of the department by all means.

Who shall I contact

The latter may arrange for visits which he considers useful for assessing the risks. Site visits can only be made between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.

For further information, it is recommended to contact Info Login Indigné.

Who shall I contact

A report by the Director General of the Regional Health Agency (ARS) or the Director of the Communal Health and Hygiene Service (CMHC) must establish whether or not there is an unsanitary situation.

This report is given to the prefect before the adoption of the order of treatment of insalubrity.

When the situation is urgent, the prefect may ask the administrative court for the appointment of an expert to examine the dwelling or building. This expert shall make a statement of their condition, including the condition of adjacent buildings, and propose measures to put an end to the danger.

The expert must give his opinion within 24 hours of his appointment.

The order for the treatment of unsanitary conditions is made at the end of a contradictory procedure with the owner or the trustee if it concerns common areas of a condominium. This procedure consists of the owner or trustee explaining the unsanitary situation and knowing the upcoming unsanitary procedure. The liquidator must immediately inform the co-owners by any means of the existence of this procedure.

An order for the treatment of unsanitary conditions shall, within a time limit set by the order, order one or more of the following measures to be taken:

  • Repair or other remedial action (including to maintain the health of adjoining buildings)
  • Demolition of all or part of the building or installation
  • Termination of the provision of the premises or installation for housing purposes
  • Prohibition of temporary or permanent residence, use or access

The Order states that if the order is not complied with within the prescribed period, the owner or trustee must pay a penalty payment per day late. The order must also specify that the work may be carried out ex officio at the expense of the owner or trustee.

The order is notified to the owner or the liquidator. It is also notified to the occupants.

If the address of the persons concerned is not known, or if it is impossible to identify them, the notification is made by posting to the town hall and on the facade of the building.

In Paris, Marseille and Lyon, the display is made at the city hall of the arrondissement where the building is located and on the facade of the building.

The Prefect shall declare the completion of the measures and works ordered, their date of completion and pronounce the release of the order. The decree may also impose a prohibition on living in, using or accessing the premises.

The release order is reported as the unsanitary treatment order.

Where the measures and works ordered have not been carried out within the time limit set, the owner or the liquidator must pay a penalty payment of up to €1,000 per day late.

The amount shall be fixed by decree taking into account the extent of the measures and works prescribed and the consequences of failure to carry them out.

The periodic penalty payment shall begin on the date of notification of the order imposing it and until all the measures and work ordered have been carried out.

The owner or trustee must inform the prefect of the implementation of the measures and works, preferably by registered letter with notice of receipt.

Where the measures and works ordered have not been implemented within the time limit fixed, the Prefect may, at the expense of the owner or the liquidator, have them carried out of his own motion.

The prefect may take any measure necessary for the execution.

He may demolish the dwelling or the building at the request of the President of the Judicial Court.

If the unsanitary treatment order is supplemented by a temporary ban on living, or if the work makes the premises temporarily uninhabitable, the owner or trustee must provide accommodation for the occupants.

If the decree orders a permanent ban on living or the cessation of the making available of premises for housing purposes, the owner or trustee must ensure the relocation of the occupants.

The order specifies the effective date of the prohibition.

As of the notification of the decree, vacant (empty) premises may not be rented, made available or occupied for any use whatsoever.

If a release order is issued, all of these provisions cease to apply.

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