Quick tips about buying and selling French Property

Sarah Bogard

Senior Solicitor & Chartered Tax Adviser

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August 18, 2020

Categories French Property Law Updates

Swimming Pools (piscines)

  • Legislation in France covers the security of swimming pools to reduce the risk of drowning. Owners of certain types of pool must install a security device, for example a protection barrier of a designated height, sufficiently robust cover, enclosure to the pool, or alarm. The law extends to pools for collective or individual use and so would include swimming pools in co-ownership developments, hotels, campsites etc but also a swimming pool on your private property. Some types of pool are excluded.
  • When you buy a property in France with a pool make sure you get evidence that the pool has a compliant security device fitted. If the security device is missing, or there is one but it doesn’t conform to the law, the owner risks facing a penalty of €45,000.
  • If you will be installing a swimming pool on your property make sure you get any required planning consent and fit the right security device.

Completion of a purchase (réalisation de la vente)

  • First time buyers in France take note! The completion date is not set in stone in the preliminary sale contract. A longstop date is usually included and is often set at about two or three months after signing the preliminary contract.
  • You shouldn’t finalise dates for flights, the ferry etc., or with a removal company until you have confirmation from the Notaire what the actual date of completion will be.
  • When approving the preliminary sale contract (compromis de vente) check the longstop date very carefully to make sure it is an achievable date from your perspective. If you fail to complete by that date you could be served notice to complete and potentially face paying a penalty.

Selling your French Property – don’t forget your tax liabilities

  • When you sell a property in France you must consider your liability to capital gains tax both in France and the UK (and any other country whose tax laws will impose a tax charge on sale). The calculations are different for each country so the tax due to the French and UK tax authorities is not likely to be identical. Double tax relief is available. You may also have a UK capital gains tax liability on other types of disposal, such as a gift of the property.
  • If you are not resident in France you might have to appoint a fiscal representative to act on your behalf to ensure your French tax liability is paid and all formalities complied with. This would be an additional cost for which you would need to budget. UK capital gains tax is reportable on a self-assessment basis. The time limits for filing your tax return and paying any tax due in the two countries are different.
  • There are some exemptions and reliefs available to reduce the taxable gain. If you use the property as your main residence, it could be fully exemption from capital gains tax.
  • Where tax reliefs are not available, you will want to keep a clear record of all expenditure incurred in improving the property (invoices and proof of payment), as it could be deductible, thus reducing the taxable gain.

For further information contact Sarah Bogard, Senior Solicitor & Chartered Tax Adviser on 01227 763939.