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Sale Annulled Due to Waste Recycling Centre

Tuesday 07 October 2014

A couple who refused to complete on the purchase of a property as they had not been informed about a waste recycling centre have won their case in the courts.

As we have frequently stated in these pages, the seller of a property in France is bound by an obligation of good faith, which they must clearly demonstrate.

The estate agent is similarly bound by an obligation of information and advice.

In a recent case before the Court of Appeal sitting in Montpellier, a couple had signed a contract for the purchase of a property but refused to sign the deed of sale (acte authentique), as they had since become aware a waste recycling centre was to be constructed in the locality.

No mention of the proposal recyling centre was in the sale and purchase contract, the compromis de vente.

According to the evidence produced in court, the installation was some 1.29 kilometres from the property, covering a surface area of 30 hectares, with a storage capacity of 165,000 tons.

The sellers argued that the purchasers had visited the property on four occasions, and that their route would have enabled them to observe the numerous boards and banners protesting about the project.

Similarly, the estate agents argued that their obligation could not extend to information that was clearly available to everyone, and they did not have any contractual relationship with the purchasers.

The court of appeal decided otherwise, stating that the purchasers were not informed of the proposed waste recycling centre and it was not until after the sale agreement had been signed that they had found out about it.

The court considered that even though the purchasers may have visited the property on several occasions and seen the protests concerning the installation, it could not be deduced from that they had a proper understanding of the importance of the project.

The size and scale of the operation in the proposed facility was considerably larger than other such centres, so that it could not be considered to be ‘normal’.

In addition, as the purchasers did not live in the area, it could not be assumed that the project was known to everyone.

Accordingly, the court decided that the purchaser should be relieved of their obligation to complete, and that they should be compensated for the prejudice suffered by selling their property and the additional costs they incurred in finding another property.

Comment

We have published several similar articles about the obligations of the seller, the notaire and the estate agent in the sale of the property, some of which you can find in the links below.

However, it should not be assumed from a reading of these cases that the buyer is exempt from all responsibility to make appropriate enquires. The courts have thrown out other cases where is was considered that the buyers should have been aware, or should have made themselves aware.

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