Apartment Worries – Buying (and owning) an Apartment in Paris Tips


Is Paris Burning or is it just my apartment building?
You don’t need a riot or a terrorist to be worried. Leave it to a 93-year-old apartment neighbor who doesn’t have all her marbles to set the place on fire.
Maybe it’s just coincidence that I should be reading
Is Paris Burning? by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre (how Paris miraculously escaped Hitler’s August 1944 death sentence).

We are currently a few thousand miles away from our Montparnasse apartment and if I hadn’t been on the phone yesterday with Thomas our Tasmanian neighbor (and president of the coop), I wouldn’t have known about the fire. It came up like this – “oh and by the way, we had a fire in the building” – and “your apartment is probably fine” but the guy underneath the old lady’s apartment, well his place is a mess. You know how the firemen are when they come in. They used a LOT of water to put out that fire. And the place still reeks of smoke. We all had to evacuate the building.”

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Although old buildings in Paris have their charm, they also have wiring systems that often date to the days of the invention of electricity. Ditto for the water pipes, which may date back to the Romans (that might be a slight exaggeration).

If you are considering buying a Paris apartment, here are some things you need to know:
1. Does your electrical wiring meet legal ‘norms’?
2. Is the apartment coop or ‘syndic’ which is the name given to apartment management companies – planning a ‘ravalement’? a ‘ravalement’ usually refers to a cleaning or repair of the building’s façade. If the ravalement is voted on before you sign a sales contract of intent to buy, the previous owner must pay for the ravalement. If you sign the contract and the ravalement is voted upon after you have signed, it is your responsibility to pay for your apartment share of the expenses.
3. Has the building been checked for asbestos? This is a relatively new imperative in Paris and some buildings have not yet been checked for asbestos.
4. If your apartment has a fireplace, you will need to have a chimney sweep clean your fireplace. I don’t know the most recent ruling concerning having fires in fireplaces of Paris apartments (I think it may no longer be legal) but after having had one fire in the building, the thought of cozying up to the fireplace no longer seems so important. If I feel like sitting in front of the fire, I’ll go see Angelique in Issy-les-Moulineaux. She has a fireplace and it works nicely.