Monday, January 11, 2010

Buyer caution when purchasing French property

A recent thread on one of the popular French discussion forums describes a case in which buyers are talking of suing the English vendors (now back living in the UK) regarding alleged defects in some of the work previously done to the property.

This raises the question of what recourse - if any - has a buyer of French property in a situation such as this. The answer is, very little. All standard sales contracts (the 'compromis de vente' and the final sales act) include a clause in which it is stated that the buyer 'takes on the property in the state in which he finds it on the day of acquisition and entry, with no guarantee by the vendor nor any right to an indemnity or reduction in price, in respect of the condition of the ground or building, faults or defects of any nature apparent or concealed or any defect of workmanship'.

The only possible exception can be work undertaken by professional, registered artisans and carrying a 10-year guarantee, in which case a claim might be possible against the artisan's insurers.

It is clear that the onus is firmly on the purchaser to ensure that he/she is happy with the property being sold. In another thread, the question has been raised about the contractual accuracy of estate agents' property descriptions. It should be noted that these are invariably stated as 'non contractual' and cannot be used as the basis for subsequent complaint or litigation.

In this context, I am reminded of reports that, during the recent French buy-to-let boom which promised generous tax advantages, 50% of investors failed to visit and check out their property (usually bought off-plan) before buying; only to discover subsequently that many of these properties had been built in out-of-the-way places without public transport (where land was cheap), and have since become unlettable and in many cases unsaleable.