How does a seller reveal property issues in France?

Sarah Bright-Thomas of Bright Avocats answers a reader query on how owners detail the state of the property they are selling

6 May 2021

By definition, a hidden defect ('vice caché') is a disorder not visible at the time of sale Pic: Finestrelle / Pixabay

By Sarah Bright-Thomas

Reader question: We know that in France property sellers have to detail information about the state of the property being sold and whether there are any issues the buyer needs to be aware of – but how do they do this?

Becoming a homeowner can turn into a nightmare if you discover major structural problems you knew nothing about at the point of purchase.

Recourse is possible and each year some 6,500 to 8,000 transactions result in litigation related to these hidden defects, according to the Fédération Nationale de l’Immobilier.

By definition, a hidden defect (vice caché) is a disorder not visible at the time of sale, but which affects the property so seriously that it makes it uninhabitable, or reduces its use to the extent that the buyer would not have bought it or would have made a much lower offer if they had known.

But, buyer beware, as the well-worded phrase goes – there is no single way to pass on this information, and a defect mentioned in the real estate deed of sale cannot be a hidden defect and is considered to have been reflected in the price.

It is better, then, to take all possible precautions before concluding the sale – including reading the deeds of sale before signing, because if such problems are mentioned in the small print, then the buyer cannot say they were not informed.

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