Monday, February 11, 2013

French Property News, February 2013

In this month's issue I have looked at the problem of 'vices cachés' - hidden defects that may cause problems for both vendors and buyers of French property. By definition, 'vices cachés' are defects that are not known about by a vendor, and for which he cannot be held responsible after sale of the property. Normally written into the sale contract is a clause in which the buyer accepts the property 'in the state in which he finds it' which normally absolves the vendor of any responsibility.

French courts have ruled that a 'prodent buyer' is expected to take all reasonable precautions, for example by employing an architect or surveyor, and he cannot later take action against a vendor if he has been casual in his approach. He is also expected to be aware of 'vice apparents' - defects which are obvious - such as out of date electrical or plumbing installations - which are not necessarily pointed out by the vendor.

By using an architect or surveyor, some of the responsibility for 'vices cachés' may be shifted onto the professionals (and their insurers) but again if they cannot access all parts of a building, their guaantees may be limited.

French Property News is on sale by subsription or through newsagents.