Why you should know about “Plan de Prevention des Risques Naturels” PPRN when buying a property in France


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  • In France, it is estimated that half of the local council (“communes”) are partly located in potentially flooded areas, and that more than 11% of dwellings are located in areas with risk of flooding.
  • Flooding is the most common risk derived from natural hazards, other natural risks may occur, avalanches, landslides, coastal flooding, rocks fall, earthquake (although with much lower probability than in Italy except in the extreme South East…), tornadoes….
  • However, do not panick, as there is a well established insurance cover for natural catastrophe managed by the state owned CCR insurance company. Additionally, areas at risk of natural catastrophes are highly regulated through the “PPRN” the “Plan de Prévention des Risques Naturels”.
  • The PPRN is devised under the authority of the « Prefet » and in coordination with the local authorities (townhall, mayor…) following a processus of “enquête publique” (public enquiry). The PPRN is part of the PLU “Plan Local d’Urbanisme”, the town planning rights and regulations document. Recently, the technological and mining risks were added to the PPRN, which is now the “PPRNMT” but most of the time the “PPRN” or “PPR” accronymes is still in place.
  • When you sell or rent out a French property you have to  advise the potential buyer/tenant of all the risks mentionned above. Therefore you should provide the “ERNMT” (“Etats des Risques Nat urels Miniers et Technologiques”). The ERNMT is part of the compulsory technical diagnostics (“diagnostiques techniques”)
  • If this document is lacking and the buyer or the tenant discovers that the accommodation is located in a high-risk area, he can engage the responsibility of the seller for hidden defects and sue the seller to court to get a price rebate, and even the cancellation of the sale.
  • You can access the PPRN online, for each of the “commune” where one has been implemented.  They are generally centralised by “départements”, e.g. website for Haute-Savoie in the Alps: PPRN in Haute-Savoie for each “commune”

The PPRN consists of a report exposing:

  • the studies undertaken on natural hazards and risks
  • the rational for the limitations of the areas (inside or outside the risk zones)
  • the rational for the rules and regulations within the areas at risks

A map (set up from the uncertainties and intensity of natural hazards), identifies the lands where one can build without restrictions in relation to the risks, the lands where one can build while undertaking specific building, or outfitting works or construction constraints, or facilities (e.g.: flood defense…), areas where no one can build. The bylaws describe the building and town planning constraints to abide by, in each areas defined by the PPRN (e.g. the PPRN will determine the height of the ground floor of a house/ block of flats in a flooding area, in relation to the highest known level of flood, the PPRN will impose reinforced building in areas that may be impacted by falling rocks or avalanches….).

The landlord has to respect the environmental and urbanistic rules, the prescriptions  included in the PPRN and the planning permission. However a planning permission to build, does not constitute a guarantee of the non-existence of natural risks.

The landlord can be liable (penal responsibility) for the breach or negligence in a responsibility of safety or caution, the safety of others, the breach of the town planning rules, the breach of the PPRN prescription.

for further information on how to buy a property in France, you may read our posts:

Check list before buying property in France

Buying property in France: “compromis de vente” or “promesse de vente”?

Notaires fees and acquisitions costs