Supplying the Paperwork
The four things you need to provide are the deeds (“titre de propriété”) , the building rules (“reglement de copropriete”), your last property management (“syndic”) bill, and last council tax (“taxe fonciere”) bill. You can give these to your estate agent and he will provide them to your Notaire when needed.
The deeds provide:
- The Lot number, an internal number used by the land registry. If there is a cellar or parking space then this will have a separate number.
- The original description of the property. Not a problem if this has changed.
- The last buyer and price. The Notaire uses the last buyer to look up the previous deeds, and from there all the preceding deeds up to 40 years ago, to ensure a clean chain of ownership. The previous price is used to calculate any capital gains tax due.
- The building management company details. The Notaire will ensure you have no outstanding bills to pay when you finally sign.
- Whether or not there is a mortgage on the property or not. This is also registered at the Town Hall, called a “hypotheque”, and Notaire will need to remove this and pay the bank off before the property can be sold.
If you cannot find the deeds: call your Notaire and ask for a certificate, or an “attestation”, and they can provide one instantly. It will be enough for the estate agent, and the Notaire can fetch a copy of the full deeds from the Town Hall once a Compromis has been signed.
The Building Rules
The building rules are occasionally useful, for instance to determined if an apartment can also be used for commercial purposes, or whether an apartment with exclusive access to a garden area is the owner or it remains communal property but with sole rights of access. If they are written on a typewriter and barely legible this is not your problem, hand them over as-is.
If you cannot find the building rules: you can contact your property management company, or “Syndic”, and ask for a copy. They will charge per page for making a copy and this can be quite expensive. If you are on friendly terms with a neighbour, they may have a copy you can photocopy or scan yourself. If you have a proactive Notaire, he may offer to contact the Syndic and obtain a copy for you.
The last property management bill lets the new owner know the monthly charges. Do not worry if the last bill is higher than previous ones, they are itemised and it is simple to discern the actually monthly charge from any exceptional charges. This will also be used to calculate a pro-rata reimbursement, as you pay for the quarter and the buyer pays you back from the days he uses from the day of purchase.
If you cannot find your charges: the property management company, or “Syndic”, can fax or email it to you the same day.
Similarly, the last tax bill is just to let the new owner know the amount. If you do not have the latest, a previous one will do as there are minimal changes each year. Because the owner on the 1st January is liable, but the bill does not arrive until September, the seller pays for the year but there will be a similar pro-rata reimbursement during the final signing by the buyer.
If you cannot find your tax bill: you will need to write to the nearest “Tresor Publique” and ask for a copy.
The Legal Tests
The final step is for an insured expert to do all the legally required tests for selling an apartment. Your estate agent will do this for you, or if you can do it youself. The tests are described next.