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Property in France

Fixtures Must be Sold with the Property

Tuesday 08 May 2018

A seller cannot remove furniture fixed to the property that causes a deterioration in the property, a French court has ruled.

As we have pointed out before in this Newsletter (Are the Carpets Included?) there is no clear definition in French law of the difference between ‘fixtures’ and ‘fittings’ in the property.

The result of this lack of clarity sometimes results in disputes between buyer and seller on just what was supposed to be left in the property and the condition in which it was supposed to be left.

In a recent case that went before the French Supreme Court, the Cour de Cassation, a buyer refused to complete on the sale of a property.

They were unwilling to do so as they considered that following signing of the sale and purchase contract the seller modified the property in violation of the stipulations in the contract.

In this case, the seller had removed a bathroom cabinet fixed by dowels, and incorporating a mirror, which was surrounded by decorative tiles. The removal of the cabinet damaged the wall and left it unsightly.

The seller argued that the deterioration in the property was insignificant and that the buyer was merely looking for an excuse to withdraw from the contract. As a result, he brought proceedings to enforce completion of the sale.

In court the judges stated that the obligation on the seller to deliver up a property on the terms agreed was general and absolute, regardless of the severity of the damage.

The court ruled in favour of the buyer, ordering annulment of the sale.

The ruling confirms the general principal in French law that, unless otherwise provided, furniture that the owner has attached to the property that cannot be physically separated from it must be included in the sale and sold without deterioration to the property.

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