Each week Sharon Scott of local estate agency 2 Valleys Properties shares a really useful, interesting and helpful guide to ex-pat life in the mountains. You’ll find the full back collection of Sharon’s blogs on our website, and on Sharon’s Facebook page.
This Week: Notaires
There seems to be some confusion about what exactly a notaires role is in France compared to a solicitor in the UK. I would like to clear this up a little in this week’s Friday Freebie.
A notaire is a public official responsible for writing, editing and receiving all ‘actes’ and contracts to which the parties wish to confer a seal of authenticity to assure their date, to hold them in trust and to deliver authentic copies of them.
A notaire works under the authority of the minister of justice and is appointed by decree. The deeds that a notaire draws up, like judicial decisions are binding. He can advise and inform on all questions relating to private, family, business, fiscal, company and administrative law.
For example in the matter of private law, he can prepare acts relating to marriage settlements, settlements such as donations between husbands and wives, wills and inheritance.
What they are most known for maybe by the British here in the area is in matters relating to property: purchases, sales, exchanges, transfers, co-ownerships, land plots, lease, mortgages etc. He can also form companies, organise the sale of businesses and prepare commercial and rural leases and rental contracts.
His role in the sale of a property is very important at every stage of the purchase process. He can be used to draw up a compromis de vente and is ultimately responsible for the preparation, execution and signing of the final sale deeds (acte authentique). His role is always impartial and he acts for both the buyer and the seller, although you can choose to appoint a different notaire to the party you are dealing with.
The notaire will be able to advise you on the best way of purchasing a property and its relevant consequences. He can explain what ‘tontine’ is and how much you will have to pay in capital gains when selling a second home.
During the sale process the notaire is obliged to check the origins of the property/land and whether each party has the right to either sell or buy the property. He/she checks there are no outstanding mortgages or debts on the property and if so that they are paid before the sale completion. He/she also checks if there are any rights of way over the property or land, whether there are any building restrictions or any natural or industrial risks in the surrounding area (avalanches, factories, flood zones etc.).
The notaire can also help in matters of property valuation and also seeking solutions to disputes between private individuals (neighbours, families, husbands and wives!). He is directly responsible for any deeds he receives and for sums of money he is entrusted.
He or she must upon request inform you of the professional fees involved which are fixed by decree, provide you with a statement of these fees and a copy of any deeds which affect you.
Upon completion of any transaction (usually a property) he has the obligation to collect any taxes imposed and to pay them to the relevant authorities. The notaire a bit like a doctor is subject to professional secrecy in absolute terms. He also has an obligation to inform parties of their responsibilities and advise them of their choice of legal forms which are best suited in each case in order to eliminate any legal or fiscal problems.
I have worked for a number of years with the notaires office in St Jean d’Aulps for my property sales who cover the whole of the Vallée d’Aulps and Les Gets. The next nearest notaires office is in Abondance or Thonon. I would highly recommend Clément Jacquier and Gael Muffat who are the youngest of the notaires and are very approachable. Clément speaks excellent English. They are however very busy and I would advise ringing to get an appointment a week in advance.
Their number is: 0450 74 84 84.