Reader Question: My wife and I live in the UK but we own two second homes in France. One never had a mortgage on it and we paid off the mortgage on the second one three years ago. However, we do not have any title deeds for these properties, we only have an ‘attestation’ that we got from the notaire when we bought and a letter from the mortgage lender for the second property. Should we have some other documentation?
A property’s title deeds, called the acte de propriété or sometimes the titre de propriété, is crucial if you plan to sell a property.
Our reader will have to get a copy of this document for both houses if they wish to sell up.
Usually, the acte de propriété is sent to property owners by the notaire that handles the purchase within a few months of the completion of the sale. We can only assume that the notaire either forgot to send these documents or they got lost or the notaire potentially did not want to send them abroad.
The purchase of a house in France goes like this.
After the buyer signs the first contract which is known as the promesse or the compromis de vente you will then a few months later sign the acte de vente with your notaire. At this point you will have paid the entirety of the sum due for the property and you are now legally the owner.
However, you do not immediately get the title deeds.
The notaire will make several copies of the acte de vente and will send it to several administrative bodies, for example the Service de la Publicité Foncière.
One of the copies will then get stamped by tax authorities and this paper will then become your title deeds (acte de propriété). This document is then posted back to your notaire who should then send it on to you.
You should keep this safe as it remains valid for the whole time that you remain owner of the property.
This process can take several months and because of that your notaire will give you, once you sign the acte de vente, an attestation de propriété immobilière, which serves as a simplified and temporary acte de propriété.
This is no doubt the document that our reader has, but it is not enough to sell the property.
How to get a copy of the title deeds
The good news is that it is relatively straightforward to get a copy of the title deeds.
You have two options. The first is to ask your notaire for a copy – there may be extra administrative costs.
The second option is to request a copy from your local service de publicité foncière.
This can cost between €6 and €30 depending on your property.
This online directory will help you find your local service de publicité foncière.