Thursday, October 29, 2015

Buying a French property held by an SCI

The SCI is a French 'société civile' which is essentially not a trading company but one set up by a group of family members or friends to jointly invest in a property. Each member buys a number of shares in the SCI, with some shares confering different rights from others. Shareholders may dispose of their shares individually if they wish to retire from the SCI but the constitution of the SCI may be restrictive - for example, an obligation to offer the shares first to existing members of the SCI.

If as a property potential buyer you find a property for sale that is owned by an SCI it is essential to consult a Notaire as soon as possible (before making any binding commitment to purchase). The Notaire will examine the SCI to ascertain what its constituion says about selling the property to a third party and it is most likely that the consent of all the shareholders will be required. A Notaire acting for the SCI/vendor will deal with the distribution of the proceeds from a sale of the property between the shareholders, according to each one's share holding.

An SCI can be purchased or taken over, or created, should you wish to use an SCI as a method of (jointly) owning a French property, and as in all cases professional legal advice should be sought before you agree to buy.