Saturday, October 3, 2009

French property title deeds

A question that is often asked on discussion forums is When and what sort of property deeds will I receive, after buying a property in France?

French title documents are similar to those encountered in other countries, and are basically a compliation of the documents the buyer (and seller) will have initialled or signed before the Notaire on completion of the sales transaction. They include the final sales act and other items such as a certified copy of the 'expertises' (the technical survey carried out before the sale), and generally comprise some 40 or 50 pages.

On completion of the sale, the Notaire files these documents with the local land registry ('bureau des hypothèques') and in due course will receive in return a certified copy bearing the bureau's official stamp and file reference number. The Notaire will then in turn send the new owner a certified copy of his 'titre de propriété' as it is now called (usually along with the Notaire's itemised account, made up of his fees and expenses and taxes, including those for filing the aforementioned documents). The process normally takes 3 to 4 months.

Because of the delay between filing and receipt of the 'titre de propriété' from the land registry, the Notaire will provide the new owner with an 'attestation' (several copies) certifiying that he is now the owner of the property. The 'attestation' is an interim document and may be useful to have when dealing with the utility companies, tax office, your bank etc.

The Notaire will normally keep a copy of the 'titre de propriété' in his files and it is important to retain a copy for yourself, as it will be required should you decide to sell the property, and in situations such death/inheritance, divorce/separation, or should you wish to borrow money using the property as collateral.

The 'titre de propriété' is the only proof you have that you are indeed the true owner of the property.