Can your water supply be cut off at your French property?
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Forgetting to pay the water bill for your French holiday home could leave you high and dry
Provided the property is a second home, not a principal private residence, the water company can legally cut off the supply. The loi Brottes of 2013, interpreted through social and family law (article L115-3 du Code de l’action social et des familles), forbids the cutting off or reduction of domestic water supplies to a main residence at any time of the year. Neither a water company nor landlord can legally turn off the taps or reduce the flow of water. This law has been in effect since 1 March 2014.
Understandably, the big water companies were worried about the financial effect this would have on their profitability if property owners could ignore their water bills with impunity. They sought clarification in the courts, but in May 2015 the Conseil Constitutionnel judged the new law to be in conformity with the French constitution.
This law does not apply to second homes or commercial premises, however, so holiday home owners should take care not to overlook a bill. In principle, water bills should be settled within 14 days. Householders are liable for their unpaid bills, and those who cannot afford to pay are advised to seek help from the appropriate authorities.
In case of a dispute with a water supplier, you can apply to have the case reviewed by a mediator, at La Médiation de l’Eau mediation-eau.fr.
Mary Hall is a former chartered surveyor who now lives and works as a property manager in Lot, south-west France