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Property in France

Owner Paying Neighbour's Rates

Monday 06 February 2017

The French land registry records can usually be relied upon, but just occassionally errors do occur.

The official inventory of land ownership in France is called the cadastre, a record that is used by notaires in property transactions and by tax officials in the calculation of local property taxes.

The plans were created during the Napolenic era for tax purposes, and although they generally serve their purpose in boundary definition they are not definitive.

Moreover, errors can also arise from the careless actions of notaires in the transfer of the property.

In the conveyancing process the land and property to be transferred is identified by the parcel numbers on the cadastre. Those numbers are listed on the deed of sale and communicated to the French land registrar who then records the change on the register.

However, as a property owner in Languedoc recently discovered, a slip of the pen by the notaire can lead to errors and thousands of euros in additional taxes.

In the case, an individual had purchased an apartment near the city of Beziers, Herault, in 2003, which he subsequently sold in 2011. The apartment was one of three in a converted house.

Subsequent to the sale he received tax demands for payment of the local tax fonciere on the adjoining apartment, which he had never owned.

For several years he contested the tax demands with the local tax office, who refused to accept that he was not the title owner, as their records showed this was the case.

On examination of the register, his notaire established that one of the rooms of an adjoining apartment had been included in his own property and on which he had been paying the rates.

The notaire acknowledged their culpability, claiming in mitigation that the it had arisen due to the confusing layout of the conversion.

In order to rectify the matter all that was necessary was a simple rectification of the deeds. However, this required the consent of the other owner, who was unwilling to go along with it due to the rates for which he would then become responsible.

As a result, the matter was placed before the local tribunal, who carried out an enforced judicial rectification.

The local tax office in turn waived several years of rates on the property.

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