Noisy deliveries, JFK’s holiday home and the dangers of subletting

Our weekly round-up of property-related news in France

We look at five updates affecting property owners in France
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Homeowners can claim compensation for noisy deliveries

Residents annoyed by the noisy deliveries of neighbouring shops and businesses have legal recourse – but not necessarily against the transport companies.

Instead, France’s highest court has ruled the firm accepting the goods is responsible for any local disturbance.

Read more: Brittany crêperie taken to court... for smelling of crêpes

The case was brought to the Cour de cassation earlier this month (March 7) by a resident who complained about the unacceptable noise made by the compressors of refrigerated food lorries delivering to a neighbouring business.

The company said it was not its fault, but rather the supplier’s for having such noisy vehicles. It was impossible to be held responsible for the actions of others, it argued.

But the court rejected this plea, reports Le Figaro, insisting the company was at the root of the problem because the deliveries were required for its day-to-day operations.

It was fined and ordered to compensate neighbours. The court added that it was the firm’s responsibility to better organise its interaction with suppliers by limiting delivery times or by providing soundproofing.

‘Renovate before selling’: EU proposes tougher rules on properties with poor energy ratings

Owners of homes with low (F or G) energy ratings could come under extra pressure to renovate before selling them or renting them out, under new EU proposals voted through by MEPs.

The proposals, which have yet to go through several steps and which would need to be interpreted by France and put into domestic law to take effect, are part of ambitious plans to get Europe’s housing stock up to high efficiency levels by mid-century.

They also include new rules for all new-build homes, which would all have to be zero-emission and be equipped with solar panels and electric car charging points where possible.

This comes as tough new French laws this year have already banned from the rental market the lowest-performing homes (the worst among the bottom G-rated category).

Meanwhile, sellers will soon have to show potential buyers what work would be needed to boost the energy efficiency of poorly-rated properties, with compulsory audits for privately owned homes with an F or G rating starting on April 1.

Read more: 10 questions about France’s new energy audits for homes

It is proposed that tougher new EU-wide rules will come into force three years earlier for non-residential buildings (offices, shops, etc.) and public buildings. New public buildings would have to be zero-emission from 2026, if the MEPs’ ideas are confirmed.

Read more: Home energy efficiency: Key dates for property owners in France

Repairing property lands seller in trouble

Homeowners tempted to make repairs on their house after a purchase offer has been made risk being accused of covering up faults.

Earlier this month (March 1) France’s highest court supported a buyer’s claim that a structural defect had been deliberately hidden when the previous owner built a new wall against the gable end of the house.

The old wall was in poor condition, reports BFM, and the owner had sought to reinforce it by undertaking the repair work.

Even though a building expert testified that the house was now structurally sound, the new buyer said the repair work effectively concealed the previous fault, which had not been mentioned in the acte de vente. He, therefore, sought compensation.

Read more: French property: How long after buying can I claim for hidden faults?

The Cour de cassation agreed, ruling that the original defect was sufficiently serious to make the building unfit for habitation and that the former owner must have been aware of this by virtue of his subsequent actions.

The legal principle in France is that if buyers later discover a hidden defect (vice caché) in the property, of which they were not aware when purchasing it, they can annul the sale or seek damages from the seller.

The defect must be of such a nature that they would not have bought the property if they had known about it, or would have offered substantially less for it.

Sale contracts for homes in France often contain a standard clause that exonerates the seller from hidden defects.

JFK’s childhood holiday home for sale

Domaine de Beaumont is located a few minutes from Cannes on the French Riviera Pic: Sotheby's International Realty

The Côte d'Azur estate where a young John F Kennedy spent family holidays has gone on the market for €31.5million.

Domaine de Beaumont, located between the settlements of Valbonne and Mougins, about 10km from Cannes, accommodated the president-to-be during vacations while his father served as US Ambassador to London.

Read more: French town's historic links to Joe Biden's inauguration

That the family was very attached to the property is evidenced by a cache of letters exchanged between John’s father and the family who owned the estate.

There also exist a number of photos of the Kennedy children by the sea, notably at Cap d'Antibes.

The house is being sold by Sotheby’s International Realty, who describe it as a “majestic property” extending over an 18-hectare park and benefiting from a panoramic view – “a veritable green corridor stretching all the way to the sea”.

It was built in 1920 in a typically Provençal style and designed by the renowned self-taught French architect Jacques Couelle, nicknamed "the architect of billionaires".

Features include a wrought iron bell tower, tapestries and “harmonious” tiling from suite to suite (there are nine in total). Outside, there are numerous ponds and fountains, an olive grove, aviaries and flower gardens.

Those of an athletic bent may also be bowled over by the tennis court and 20-metre-long marble pool, set “like a blue diamond in the garden's green setting”.

John F Kennedy grew to love the area so much he continued spending holidays here into adulthood, vacationing in Roquebrune Cap Martin – a coastal village near Monaco where his brother regularly rented a villa.

Tenant with subletting contract fined for failure to have correct rental licence

Subletting your flat on Airbnb-style platforms can land you in hot water – even if the landlord has granted permission.

A court ruling in February found a tenant should have obtained approval for short-term tourist rental – deemed a change of use – from the mairie first, before advertising it for let.

They, in turn, had argued that subletting was authorised in their lease, and that having the correct paperwork in place for tourist rentals was the landlord’s job, reports consumer association Que Choisir.

However, the Cour de cassation ruled this “cannot exonerate him [the tenant] from his responsibility”, and gave them equal fines.

Read more: Airbnb found liable for illegal sublet of Paris home

According to the 2018 loi Élan, Airbnb hosts in France must declare a property as the correct category if they are putting it up for rent in an area under housing tension.

If the property is the host’s main home, it can be rented on a platform such as Airbnb but only for 120 days a year, maximum.

If renting is planned to go beyond this number of days and the property is not your main home, hosts must apply for a change of use licence.

The licence, which is obtained from the mairie, transforms the property into a résidence secondaire en location touristique de courte durée (secondary residence used as a short-term tourist rental)’.

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