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Property in France

Are the Carpets Included?

Thursday 06 June 2013

There is no clear definition of 'fixtures’ and ‘fittings’ in French property law, and the issue can sometimes be a sensitive one between buyer and seller.

It is surprising how frequently the final decision on the sale of a property worth possibly several hundred thousand euros can come down to whether or not the cooker or carpets are included in the price.

However, a more serious problem, particularly for the buyer, is the extent to which the seller and buyer leave unstated just what is to be included in the sale.

Sometimes the buyer can be pleasantly surprised at just what the seller includes in the sale, altlhough in recent years sellers do seem to be taking a less generous view of what they are prepared to leave behind.

The result is that when buyers take occupation they feel short-changed about the extent to which the property has been stripped of what they considered to have been fixtures.

Fitted bedroom furniture and kitchens, in particular, are often a source of uncertainty in law and between buyer and seller.

In general terms, such items, which may be attached to the walls of the property, and which fit the dimensions of the space they occupy, would be construed as a ‘fixture’ by a court of law. As such, they should be left in the property.

However, that is probably of little comfort if you are faced with the cost and stress of legal proceedings to seek some form of redress from the seller.

Another potential grey area concerns wood burners, particularly if the wood burner itself is removed and the flue is left in situ.

The same level of uncertainly applies to garden sheds that may not be built on a concrete foundation.

So the golden rule in these matters is to ensure that the sale contract makes clear just what is to be left in the property, particularly if you are uncertain whether it is a fitting or a fixture.

The less confidence you have in the seller the longer the list of such items might need to be, e.g. boiler, bathroom and kitchen fixtures.

If fittings are to be left in the property one advantage of making a separate inventory of such items in the sale contract is that their value can be reduced from the purchase price of the property, which in turn reduces the level of fees and taxes payable.

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