Undeclared swimming pools: what you need to know

Undeclared swimming pools: what you need to know

17 January 2024

Selling a house in Collioure or anywhere else in France today, you need to pay particular attention to an aspect that is often overlooked: unregistered swimming pools. These increasingly frequent installations create legal and financial complications for sellers and buyers alike. What are these consequences and how can we anticipate them? Find out all the answers in this article.

Is it possible to sell a house with an undeclared swimming pool?

Is it possible to sell your house with an undeclared swimming pool | Paradise Immobilier

In theory, yes. However, there are several risks to consider. Declaring a swimming pool is a legal requirement to ensure the safety of occupants and compliance with current standards. Failure to declare a swimming pool when selling a house is therefore a violation of real estate law, and can lead to severe legal consequences.

Undeclared swimming pools: what are the risks?

In France, all new buildings require either a prior declaration or a building permit, depending on their surface area and location. An undeclared swimming pool can entail a series of legal and financial risks, including :

  • Financial penalties: according to article L480-4 of the French Planning Code, the minimum fine is €1,200, which can be increased to €300,000 in certain cases.
  • Imprisonment: in the event of a repeat offence, the owner may also be liable to 6 months' imprisonment.
  • Tax reassessment: the undeclared pool must be declared to the tax authorities, resulting in a tax reassessment and the payment of unpaid property tax since the pool was built.
  • Pool demolition: in the event of non-compliance with planning regulations, an unregistered pool may be demolished.
  • Insurance problems: in the event of a claim, the insurance company may refuse to cover the damage if the pool is not declared.
  • Sales difficulties: an undeclared pool cannot be registered on the deed of sale, which may deter potential buyers.

How do I know whether or not to declare a swimming pool?

How do I know if I need to declare a swimming pool or not | Paradise Immobilier

To determine whether or not you need to declare a swimming pool, you need to consider the following two criteria:

Pool area

  • If the pool area is less than 10 m², you don't need to declare it.
  • If the surface area of the pond is between 10 and 100 m², you must submit a prior declaration of works to the town hall.
  • If the surface area of the pond exceeds 100 m², you must apply for planning permission.

Pool location

If your plot of land is located in a protected area, such as a heritage site, a conservation area or a listed site, you'll need to submit a prior declaration of works, even if the surface area of the pool is less than 10 m².

To help you determine whether you need to declare your swimming pool, you can consult the swimming pool installation or construction form on the Service Public website.

How do you spot an undeclared swimming pool?

Undeclared swimming pools are identified by the competent authorities, in particular by :

  • Aerial photography: authorities use satellite or aerial images to identify undeclared pools. Artificial intelligence is increasingly used to automate this process. The algorithm is trained to recognize typical pool shapes and colors (rectangular or circular blue zones).
  • On-site checks: local authorities can carry out checks in residential areas to ensure that swimming pools are declared.
  • Analysis of administrative documents: land registers and administrative documents relating to town planning are examined during real estate transactions or regular audits. If a pool is not declared, this can be detected at this stage.
  • Property sales advertisements: when a property is put up for sale, potential buyers or real estate agents can carry out in-depth checks. If a swimming pool is not declared in the sales documents, this may arouse suspicion.
  • Reporting: neighbors or other third parties can report undeclared pools to the authorities.

In 2022, almost 90% of homeowners contacted in 9 French départements admitted to having a taxable swimming pool (1).

What are the advantages of declaring pool construction work?

  • In administrative terms, the declaration verifies that the work complies with town planning regulations.
  • For tax purposes, the declaration updates the rental value of the house. In fact, the presence of a swimming pool increases the value of the house, resulting in higher property taxes.
  • In terms of insurance, the declaration guarantees that the pool is insured in the event of a claim.
  • In terms of sales, the declaration allows the pool to be registered on the deed of sale. This can facilitate the sale of the house, as potential buyers are more likely to be interested in a house with a pool.

What is the statute of limitations for an undeclared swimming pool?

The limitation period for undeclared swimming pools is 6 years. This means that the competent authorities can no longer initiate criminal proceedings against the pool owner after this deadline.

However, the owner can be held civilly liable for 10 years. The municipality can therefore hold the owner civilly liable to repair damage caused by the pool, even if the pool construction work has been prescribed.

Undeclared swimming pool: how to regularize it?

To regularize an undeclared swimming pool, you need to file a declaration of work or building permit application with your local town planning department. The file must include several documents, such as a site plan, ground plan, sectional plan, photos, a description of the work and an impact study, if necessary.

Registering a swimming pool not only guarantees a compliant real estate transaction, but also preserves the value of your property. Trust Paradise Immobilier, your real estate agency in Collioure for a successful real estate purchase or sale.

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