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French Property News Q&A - Title Deed For First Of New-Build Property

Question

We had a property built in France and it was completed in 2003. We bought the plot and then found a constructer to build from one of his designs.

We did not have a mortgage or a loan and I was wondering what kind of deeds we should have in our possession.

In the UK we have all the legal documents to prove the house in the UK is ours, so what happens in France? All I seem so have is a piece of paper of Conformity plus all the receipts as it was being built.

I wondered what we should have to present if and when we decide to sell.

Answer

In France, just as in the UK, after buying a property you should receive legal proof that the property is yours. On the day your Notaire completed your purchase, or shortly afterwards, he should have given you an attestation de vente (ownership certificate) signed by him confirming that the sale to you took place on the date in question. This document enables you to prove to the authorities that you are the new legal owners of the property, pending receipt of the actual title deed some months down the line.

A Notaire in France has 2 months from the date of completion of a sale or purchase to register the transaction at the local Land Registry. He must send off the original title deed (acte de vente) and up to 6 months later will receive it back duly registered. At that point the Notaire should close the ledger opened at his office in your names and return any balance to you together with an official copy of your title deed. The original deed is kept by the Notaire in his archives.

As you seem not to have received your official copy of the title deed, you should contact the Notaire's office to find out what has happened to it. It may be that it was never sent out to you.

Annexed to your title deed should be all the official documents obtained at the time of the purchase such as local search results, a land registry plan and in your case a copy of the outline planning permission to build the house.

To prove that the house itself is legally yours, in addition to the certificate of conformity (confirming that the house was built in accordance with the planning permission), and the receipts for the stage payments you made to the construction company, you should also have your signed copy of the building contract between you and the builder.

When selling the property you will potentially be subject to Capital Gains Tax. To offset the cost of building your house you will have to present the construction company's invoices as well as their receipts for your stage payments. These documents must clearly show the company's registration number (at the local companies' registry) as well as its VAT number.

Ultimately the Land Registry should update its plans to show that there is now a building on your plot. You can check this on-line by going to www.cadastre.gouv.fr and inputting your plot number and address.

This Q&A first appeared in Issue 244 of French Property news - June 2011.

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