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Heslop & Platt are specialists in the field of french planning law.
Based in the North of England, we have helped clients for over eight years with French legal advice and services.
Feel free to read our other articles or contact us for further enquiries.

The team of lawyers at Heslop & Platt regularly produces articles for a variety of websites and specialist publications.
Here is a selection of the articles we have written.

Please ensure you contact us for specific advice as the information contained in our articles is of necessity general and must not be relied upon without additional guidance from a French Law Specialist firm such as ours.

An Inspector Calls

Question

We are about to take hand over of our new apartment in France however we are worried about "snagging"; can your legal expert please explain the hand over process?

Answer

There are very clear rules requiring a developer firstly to deliver the property in accordance with the original specification, secondly to attend promptly to any snags or defects and thirdly to provide various levels of guarantee for a number of years following completion of construction.

When construction of the property is complete, it is normally the case that the final 5% of the purchase price will remain unpaid. The developer is required to notify the buyer that the property is ready for occupation and to invite the buyer to attend a hand over meeting. We recommend that the buyer attends this meeting in person. Buyers should consider taking their legal advisor or surveyor with them. Our clients have always found that valuable.

At this meeting, the buyer will inspect the property with a representative of the developer and a list of all snags and defects noticed by the parties will be drawn up. At the end of the inspection, depending on the number and type of snags highlighted, the buyer can choose whether to accept hand over or not.

If a buyer agrees to take handover, he must release the final 5% of the purchase price to the developer and in return the developer will hand over the keys. The developer must then attend to the snags and defects promptly – usually within a month.

However, if there are any major snags or defects, the buyer can refuse to take hand over in which case he retains the final 5% and the developer holds on to the keys. A new inspection will then be arranged once the defects highlighted have been put right.

Once a buyer has taken possession of the property, various new build guarantees apply. The main ones are:

Sometimes, the quality of the finished property falls short of the buyer's expectations and if the developer is slow or appears unwilling to remedy the situation, court action can be necessary. This is, of course, costly and lengthy.

The moral of the story is therefore, that when considering an off plan purchase, do your homework, look at developments already completed by the developer and if possible speak to other buyers to find out whether they are pleased with their property or whether their new build purchase was fraught with problems.

This article first appeared on the French Entrée Website in July 2009.

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