A snowy episode has arrived in France (© Ludovic Marin – AFP)
A snowy episode affects the northern half of France. Météo France has issued alerts for floods, extreme cold, snow and ice. Snow removal, insurance… Owners and tenants must be attentive.
(BFM Immo) – “Remarkable snowfall, requiring special vigilance, due to the expected snowfall levels and doubled by an occurrence of ice”. Météo France is warning the French in the northern half of France this week. Overview of the obligations incumbent on owners and tenants with snowfall.
Who is responsible for snow removal?
Regarding snow removal, the Court of Cassation recalled in September 2018 that the condominium manager must not allow snow to accumulate. The property manager is liable, both towards third parties and towards its members, if he lets snow accumulate on the roof or in front of the facades and if this accumulation causes harm to someone.
For snow on the sidewalk, it depends on the order taken by the municipality. Thus, in Paris for example, “residents, owners, tenants or occupants of shops, stores and all premises with immediate access to the public highway, have the obligation to clear in front of their homes”. They must also salt or sand in the event of ice, up to the edge of the sidewalk.
The site service-public.fr specifies all the same: “The responsibility of the residents can be engaged for negligence, even in the absence of municipal decree imposing the snow removal (for example, if the snow slips of the roof and damages a car in a region subject to heavy snowfall at certain times of the year) “.
In addition, in some municipalities very affected by snow, the mayor may require the installation of snow stops (sometimes called snow bars or anti-fall bars) on the roofs of buildings bordering the public thoroughfare, as well as the removal icicles formed at the edge of roofs or along downspouts.
In the event of failure to comply with all these snow removal obligations, the fine will be 38 euros. But above all, the victim will be able to engage the responsibility of the tenant or the owner for a single-family house next to the sidewalk, of the trustee for a building.
What minimum temperature is tolerated for tenants?
Who says snow and ice says cold. According to article R241-26 of the Energy Code, in residential premises, the maximum temperature must be 19 degrees but this temperature is set for all the rooms in the home.
The service-public site indicates that “in a rental accommodation, whatever its characteristic (new, old or recent), the tenant must be able to heat himself normally”. While the law does not define what “heating normally” means, it simply specifies that it must be “in accordance with minimum standards of decency”. An owner therefore has no obligation to change old double-glazed windows.
What about maintaining a boiler?
Every year, gas, oil, wood or coal boilers must be maintained, in accordance with article R224-41-4 of the Environmental Code. For the collective boiler, maintenance is at the initiative of the owner or the co-ownership manager. Conversely, for an individual boiler, the tenant is responsible for maintaining the appliance, unless the lease provides that the landlord must take care of it.
While proper maintenance of the boiler is essential to avoid catastrophes or the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, the regulations do not provide for penalties if annual maintenance is not carried out. The tenant or the recalcitrant owner does not incur any fine. But in the event of an accident with a non-maintained boiler, the insurer may decide not to compensate the person concerned. Moreover, if the tenant has been negligent with this obligation, his owner “can withhold the amount of the maintenance on the security deposit”, warns the site service-public.fr.
What should you check in your insurance contract?
The first step, for tenants as for owners, is obviously to look at your home insurance contract. Christophe Triquet, Meilleurtaux Insurance Director, recalled during the Gabriel storm in 2019 that most home insurance contracts include a snow guarantee in their storm or weather event cover. Most contracts cover the cost of clearing for repairs or reconstruction. In the case of a tenant, it is the owner’s insurance that will cover these operations under the same conditions. “If there is indeed a common basis for many insurances, each company will offer guarantees, ceilings or services which are specific to it. Some will, for example, cover water infiltration following the effects of snow, others don’t “.
But beware, there are exclusions. Thus, damage to “the exterior (gates, fences, trees, etc.) as well as verandas are regularly excluded from guarantees and are not reimbursed”, he affirmed. And he added: “Also, shutters, blinds and other solar panels are, with exceptions, not covered by the insurance contract”. Small important subtlety: “Thus, in the event of a fall of tree in the garden, and except option or specific guarantees, the insurer will not take care of neither the damage nor the clearing”. In addition, Christophe Triquet specified: “The outbuildings are guaranteed in the same way as the main house … but they still have to be declared to the insurer”.
The specialist affirmed that: “The majority of insurance contracts cover damage caused by the weight of the snow. The ‘climatic events’ guarantees make it possible not only to ensure the clearing of rubble but also to take care of repairs or reconstructions. . The same goes for so-called “wet” damage to the extent that the damage caused by infiltration occurs within a maximum period of 48 hours after the event ”.
Do you have to wait for the approval of your insurer to start work?
If there has been a claim, the first thing to do is obviously to contact your insurer. “This one will be able to indicate to you the steps to follow and the time of passage of the expert who will ascertain the nature of the damage. It is also with the latter which returns the load of defining the envelope necessary for the repair of your good. or compensation for your claim. However, if the situation so requires (damaged roof, infiltration, etc.), it is possible to start work without an expert being appointed. insurer and keep all quotes and invoices to be reimbursed for the sums advanced “, explained Christophe Triquet.
Can the “natural disaster” guarantee intervene?
The natural disaster guarantee can intervene if a prefectoral order is published. This means that there is recognition of a particularly important character either in terms of the number of insured persons affected by the damage, or in terms of the intensity of the phenomenon at the origin of the damage.
But Christophe Triquet advised: “Better not to rely on this decree and declare your claim normally. Because in insurance, you have 5 working days to report any claim to your insurance before the latter can refuse your claim for compensation” .