Tuesday, June 21, 2011

EU pilot scheme aims to guarantee 'legal certainty' when buying property abroad

The European Union has been funding a pilot scheme set up by the European Land Registry Association which offers buyers of property outside their own country legal protections that could be enforced by the laws of their home country.

The scheme has been tried out in Holland and Spain using a system known as CROBECO (Cross Border Electronic Coveyancing). As a result Dutch law could apply and compensation awarded in cases of breach of the purchase contract for a property in Spain.

The ELRA points out that the sales transaction could even be processed in the buyer's home country by a local conveyancer, making buyers more confident of purchasing property abroad, as the scheme is gradually extended to other European countries.

How this proposal could eventually affect property purchases in France remains to be seen. French notaires currently enjoy a monopoly of property conveyancing in France, and even if British buyers choose to employ a local lawyer to check the purchase contract, it is the accuracy of the original (French) documentation, combined with the notaire's local knowledge, that ensure that the transaction is transparent, legal and fair to both parties.

Further information Daily Telegraph Overseas Property Section, Sean O'Connor 15 June 2011. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/

Early retired wanting to settle in France

Under pressure from the Eropean Commission, the French government is being forced to re-think the rules changes introduced in 2007, which required British citizens below retirement age to provide their own private medical cover if they wished to become resident in France. For many people this has meant paying for expensive private health cover or having to change their plans if they found that a pre-existing medical condition ruled out private insurance.

As a result many have had to defer their plans to move permanently to France or have restricted their stays to the legal limits and remained within the British health service, until they reached retirement age. In the case of a married couple, it is often the wife's earlier retirement age which can allow a permanent move, with the husband's health care linked to that of his wife until he too reaches retirement.

It is likely that the French government will be obliged to allow British citizens caught in this situation to have access to the CMU (the French state health care system), which provides health cover for those not in employment or self-employed, with 70% medical costs covered by the state (with some serious conditions such as cancer subject to 100% cover). As a rule French citizens pay for private top-up insurance to cover the remaining 30% not reimbursed by the state, using one of the mutuelle insurance providers, and British residents below official retirement age and not working will be allowed to do the same.

Talking to local residents, it is clear that they could be paying perhaps as little as one-fifth of their existing private medical cover, once they are allowed access to the French state system and pay only for top-up medical insurance.