Reader question: We are buying a house in Brittany which has been rented out by its current owners. The tenants have left and the property is empty. Do we need to check the tenants have no claim?
Yes, ask the seller for a copy of the lettre de résiliation du bail and make sure the notaire checks it before the final signing.
It makes sense to ask for this before the first signing. If the seller does not have it, say that you would like to see it before the second.
The letter is insurance for the buyer that the rent was correctly ended. Without it, the former tenant could start a court case against the owner, which might block the sale.
In some cases in France, long-standing tenants have a droit de préemption, which means they have to be offered the property before anyone else can buy it. This usually applies if the tenant is asked to move out before the end of the rental contract. In that case, the tenant has two months after leaving the house to say they want to buy it.
The lettre de résiliation lets you be sure that if they had droit de préemption, it was fully explained and they have not taken it up.
If the property has been empty for years, it is unlikely former tenants have any rights on it, but be wary.
Also, check the state of a property where there have been tenants before the final signing, especially if they were still in the house when you first looked at it.