In historic times, fireplaces served as a principal source of heat in the home. Today, most older Parisian buildings retain their beautiful stone fireplaces, but they are mainly used for decorative purposes.
If you have a working fireplace in your apartment, can you use it? We hear different responses from real estate agencies. Some say it is prohibited by law to use fireplaces in Paris. The year 2015 brought much confusion, as legislation went back and forth several times between disallowing and permitting.
Since that time, the law does not fully restrict the use of personal fireplaces in Paris. However, while fireplaces largely remain decorative and cannot be used as a main source of heat, they are permitted as an additional source of heat or atmospheric heat source – which is generally the case anyway.
That said, two things must be verified before you strike that first match to light up your fireplace:
- Each building has a documented set of rules and regulations which often date back to construction of the building. This is called the Règlement de Copropriété, and amendments to this document can be made at the annual general assembly of home owners. If you are interested in using your fireplace, it is important to request a copy of the Règlement de Copropriété from the owner to verify that your building does not forbid the use of personal fireplaces. Simply ask the owner or management for a copy of this document.
- Once you have verified that the use of your fireplace is not prohibited by the co-owners (syndicat de copropriété), the next step will be to determine that your individual fire duct is safe to use. You will need to hire a professional chimney sweep company to clean out your chimney stack and check its condition. If you are a tenant, renovating a duct may not be worth the expense if you intend to make just a few fires a year.
If you have been given permission to use your fireplace, be sure to inform your insurance broker or company that you have a working fireplace (foyer ouvert). Your policy may increase slightly, but this kind of coverage is important.
Also, it is recommended to have your chimney duct regularly swept twice a year, and do keep your receipts (certificats des ramonages) in your files for insurance purposes. Your landlord will also ask for copies when you leave your home.
Following these guidelines will ensure you can safely enjoy hearthside ambience in your home for as long as you stay in your apartment.