What can we do when our French notaire does not respond to our calls?

Barbara Heslop of Heslop & Platt answers a reader query on the steps to take when the notaire you are working with is not communicating effectively 

21 July 2021

'In this instance, approach a different notaire, obtain his/her agreement to deal with your sale, and send a registered letter to the previous notaire informing him that, due to his lack of response, you are moving your instructions to the new notaire' Pic: Dennis van de Water / Shutterstock

By Barbara Heslop

Reader question: We want to sell our house in France. We have found a buyer and contacted a notaire. We provided a copy of our title deed several months ago but have had no news. Can we appoint a different notaire?

This is the type of unusual situation where selling through an estate agency can be especially useful, as the agent would certainly chase the notaire. Estate agencies generally have an ongoing relationship with a local notaire – who knows they need to perform, otherwise the agency will send clients elsewhere.

In your case, I think you have been more than patient. My advice would be that you approach a different notaire, obtain his/her agreement to deal with your sale, and send a registered letter to the previous notaire informing him that, due to his lack of response, you are moving your instructions to the new notaire, who will contact him to obtain the copy of your title deed.

Once your sale is back on track, the new notaire will ask you for the dossier diagnostic technique, which is the set of mandatory diagnostic reports a seller is required to commission when selling a property.

If your property has a septic tank, you will also need to arrange an official inspection and provide the notaire with the resulting report.

From when you appoint the new notaire, the draft contract should be ready for your approval within one month. Once you and your buyer have signed the contract, it should take the notaire two months to conduct the pre-completion formalities.

When all search results have been obtained and all other formalities completed, the notaire will suggest a completion date.

The completion date will not be imposed on you or your buyer. The notaire will offer various dates and times when he/she can hold the completion meeting. Then it is for you and your buyer to select a mutually convenient slot.

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