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Pat Foreman

Hello there, I do hope you can help.
We recently sold our property in France - 3 weeks ago - and are having a terrible time with the notaire. Basically, they are holding onto our money. I've sent them everything they've asked for to do the capital gains calculation (I sent this well in advance of completion) and .. nothing. I've e-mailed and faxed and posted things - no acknowledgement.
The only thing I can think to do now is make a formal complaint - I wonder if you could tell me the name and address of the governing body for notaires in France?
Many thanks.
Pat Foreman

Fabien Cordiez Esq.

Dear Pat

The type of problem which you are experiencing with that notaire is not uncommon. You could complain to the Chambre Départementale des Notaires (their local Law Society), as this may help speeding matters up. I can aslo write formally to the notaire on your behalf requesting detailed explanations as to what causes the delay and which documents they require in order to assess you CGT liability.

With regards

Fabien Cordiez
Avocat & Solicitor


hi,a notaire oversaw the sale of our house then the neighbours.Our com.de v. says we have right of way through their garden, hers that we have not.Notaire insists all along that we have as do est. agent.Turns out we do not,and house is no good for us. Chanbre de N. just shrug. Any suggestions? Regards, Mo


Hello, i recently bought a French property, which i paid for in full. I then organised the mortgage after the sale, which the mortgage company transferred to the notaire's account. The notaire then chargde me 2,000 euros for transferring the money to my account, which i am disputing. Is there anybody who can give me some of their experience or advice on how to proceed? Thanks


I am having probelms with a notaire not responding to any of my correspondence even with it being written in both French/English its to do with a re-mortgage and drawing up an act de pret. He doesnt even return the calls of my french bank what should i do??

Craig McGinty

Reading the advice above of Fabien Cordiez I think you need to contact the regional office of the notaires society.

Once you have an address here is a standard letter that you can use to get things moving:


Hope this helps.


Mrs Myra Thompson

Hi, can anyone help with advice. We need a Notaire that speaks English and is sympathtic to our problem with the French inheritance laws. We have both been married before and have children by each marriage. We would like to sort our wills leaving each other the option of selling our properties without involving the children necessarily. We would be grateful for any advice possible please.
Myra Louise

Fabien Cordiez

Most French notaires are very professional, courteous and competent, but there are some situations where customers, especially non-French speakers, are experiencing difficulties: they are either being overcharged for a service, or simply left in the dark with no answer whatsoever to their queries, delays occur etc... In most cases, these difficulties are, in actual fact, due to communication problems. Whatever may cause such troubles, the result is that customers feel they are being bullied, with very little recourse against the notaire concerned.

Instructing a bilingual French lawyer can of course help overcome these situations. Where a serious issue arises, your lawyer can write to the notaires' local Law Society and lodge a formal complaint on your behalf. If this does not yield results, as a last recourse, your lawyer can sue the notaire in question for negligence.

As always, it is advisable to prevent this from happening if possible: involving your own French lawyer from the outset can, in the end, make you save a lot of money. If problems do happen, do not wait until matters have gone worse before consulting an independent French solicitor.

Craig McGinty

I had a chat with Fabien about finding the address of your local Law Society office, he replied:

The best way to locate notaires' local law societies is by conducting a search on the French Yellow pages (English version), which can be found at: http://www.pagesjaunes.fr/pj.cgi?lang=en
The name to be entered is "chambre des notaires".

People should also type the name of the relevant area or city where the notaire's office is located.


My husband and I (only marriage with one child) wish to enter into a French marriage "communaute universelle" wherein the couple are co-owners of everything so that when one of them dies, the other automatically inherits everything. We have seen a French~speaking Notaire who is happy to do this for us but for which, we think, is a great deal of money! Does anyone know if there is a basic fee for this sort of thing or could someone recommend a Notaire in the western Orne who would give us a second opinion?

Fabien Cordiez

I often help English-speaking clients opt for "Communauté Universelle" and can report that average fees, which notaires charge, range from 400 € to 600 €.

I do not know any particular notaire in the western Orme area I am afraid. Please note however that any notaire could arrange this for you and, if necessary, the Communauté Universelle Deed can be executed in your absence, provided you sign a Power of Attorney. This requires you to make an appointment with a Notary Public established near where you live (assuming that you do not permanently live in France) and obtain a special Seal called "Apostilled", which most Notary Publics now how to arrange.

I hope this is of assistance.


Fabien Cordiez

Daniel Prades

I'm thinking of returning to France and buying a house out in the country ( Pryenees ). I was born in Nice long ago and still a Frenchman. The comments on your site indicate that everyone has their hand
out or in your pocket. How would you recommend
I proceed without getting screwed to badly.
Thanks in advance For your help?

Craig McGinty

Hi Daniel
Many thanks for your message. I think it is important to remember that the messages above are from people who have had difficulties, and so have a reason to seek advice.

The majority of people will have a smooth and easy experience of buying in France, but a couple of steps you can take include maybe appointing your own notaire to take a look over the legal details and depending on the age of a property appoint a surveyor to cast a professional eye over it.

All the best

clare turner

We recently purchased a French property and was told on numerous occasions by the notaire that we qualified for the "first sale" discount in terms of fees/registration etc. During the 4.5 month sale period, at no time were we told that the owner had sold 50% of the house to his girlfriend and that we were only entitled to half of the house value at the discounted rate. The icing on the cake is that this notaire actually executed this initial sale transaction. The legally binding compromis clearly states the fees at the discounted rate but the notaire now wants us to pay an additional Euros 5,800.We feel he has acted in a negligent manner. Do we have a case at all and if so, how do we go about this. Do we pay the extra and then take this higher with whoever and how????? Best regards,Clare Turner

Fabien Cordiez

Dear Clare,

I would need to check the "compromis de vente" (reservation contract) before giving my professional opinion on the issue which you describe, but, from what you say, it does seem that the notaire has acted negligently. Irrespective of the notaire's possible negligence, if the sale's final terms and conditions differ from those you initially agreed, you should be entitled to cancel the sale and recover your deposit. Before one can make an opinion on the legality of such cancellation, careful inspection of the initial contract's wording and subsequent correspondence are of course necessary.

Kind regards,

Fabien Cordiez

clare turner

Hi Fabien
Thanks for your response. My problem is that the notaire only asked for the additional Euros 5,800 17 days after we had completed on the house and had already moved in so we can't turn back now or ask for a refund. Either we ask him to pay the additional amount since it was his mistake or we pay and sue him? All this is, if we have a case or not? Do we have a case or do we have to pay it irrespective of him being negligent and swallow the pain! THe compromis de vente which is legally binding and signed for by both parties at compromis stage, clearly states the fees as being the initial Euros amount that we had budgeted for. Had we known they were going to come back for more AFTER completion, we would have negotiated a lower purchase price or not even bought in the first instance.
Best regards
Clare Turner

Nick Williamson

My wife and I bought an appartment in Pyrenees Orientals. We decided to use our own Notaire for the transaction in addition to the Promoters Notaire. The Promoters Notaire has held a substantial part of our purchase money from the Promoter for over a year. No reason given. We have proof of transfer by a letter and Financial Statement from our own Notaire. The Promoter is demanding the money from us. We are alarmed because the Acte arrived yesterday showing this money not paid. Is this a problem for us?

Craig McGinty

Hi Nick, difficult to answer your question from just a few paragraphs, but what has your own Notaire said?

You've most probably spent good money on them, so make sure they earn their corn.

Otherwise you are most likely looking at taking legal advice again.

Regards, Craig

Chris Nash


I too have had trouble with my Notaire. He failed in his duty to us. We bought a property to use as a business. He failed to tell us that there were certain legal maintenance works that were outstanding, and that the previous owner should have carried out the year before the sale. Had we known about these, we would not have purchased, and now have around 20,000 euros to find in order to do this work. There are also a number of documents which should have been annexed to our Deed of Sale which are missing. Surely we have some recourse, as this is a legal document. I did try to seek legal advice, but my avocat was next to useless, and just went on about his money. In 6 months, nothing got done and I am back to square one. Why can't we ever get any help in France - no one wants to know and we just have to get on with it. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Colin Lowe

My wife passed away in the UK. Probate etc has been sorted in the UK but I need to change the names on our French house, banks and services.
How do I go about this?
Any help will be appreciated.

Craig McGinty

Hi Colin, changing bank account details should be possible from within your branch. For property questions I think a visit to the notaire would be advisable, if the one involved in your purchase is still operating possibly start there. But you can go elsewhere if necessary.
Hope this helps

Colin Lowe

Thanks Craig, I will try my bank when I get back from my vacation
(Loire Atlantique)

Melissa Wilson

I hope you can answer this complicated query. Basically I had sold my house to an elderly couple and the Compris de Vente was signed. One week after the seven day cooling off period, they came to see me as they realised they had made a mistake and wanted to pull out of the agreement. I felt very sorry for them, as there were financial issues there, and also they had been led to believe that planning permission was not required for an extension they wanted to build (as it was under 20 sqm internally). I think the estate agent had given them a rough estimate of the cost of the extension, although nothing was ever given in writing i.e a devis. They did not ask for a condition suspensive at the signing, and I felt uncomfortable for them as it appeared the Agent just wanted his sale and his fee. It's now apparent, that to do the extension work properly, this would cost more than originally budgeted, and possibly planning would need to be requested. In hindsight, they feel my property isn't right for them and what with the cost involved, etc, they do not wish to proceed. I agreed with them that they could pull out of the sale, and I have given my word that I will not seek the 10% deposit. I too feel that I was rushed into the sale at the time of the offer, as at the time I had a close relative in hospital and my marriage was on the verge of a break-down.
The buyers also had discovered from friends of friends that there had been damp in the property some months ago. I had never disclosed this to the Agent, as far as I was concerned, the problem had been rectified. An other issue is access, in order to access their property, they need to pass onto my land. Again, this was not written into the contract. Is there any fault placed here?
Will the notaire and the estate agent demand their fees to be paid? If so, what percentage and who by? Thanks for your help:!

Craig McGinty

Hi Melissa, considering there are so many details involved in your case, I wouldn't recommend relying on the site's messages for such an important decision. I really do think you need to sit down with the notaire and estate agent to talk things through.
All the best, Craig

Guillaume Barlet

Dear Melissa,

It is unlikely that the estate agent's commission would be due and I would suspect the same goes for the notary's fees.

It is important to understand that a compromis is a private agreement that can therefore be modified or cancelled by another private agreement.

Contact me if you need to settle this. I would be happy to assist you.

Kind Regards,

Karen Kehily

I am looking for a recommendation on an english speaking notaire in the Sainte Maxime region to assist with the sale of a property. Can you advice?

keith broley

I have a barge presently in France which I wish to sell.
( the barge is registered in U.K.)
When I find a purchaser, is a Notaire able to provide an escrow service for a secure exchange of money and barge ?

annie blake

My mum lived in France and was a resident but not a property owner. she died 2 1/2 years ago and the notaire appointed to deal with the inheritance by my brother and sister is no longer answering my solicitors calls or mine and has not filled in any paperwork. We have issued a complaint to the law society but it did not work I got a further notaire representing just me and still no joy -is court the next avenue - any suggestions?

Paul Roberts

I have reluctantly decided to sell my apartment in the south of France and am encountering a couple of problems, these are:

1. We were informed by the estate agent that the 5 year of ownership point would occur in April 2009 which would mean that TVA would not be liable after this point. However a recent letter from the Notaire has informed us that the TVA cut off point is in May 2010. A check of previous records confirms that full payment for the property was made before Aug 2004 and the actual keys for the property were handed to us in that Month. it appears that the Notaire is referring to the final development completion date and not when we 'moved in' to our apartment. Can this really be the case as the reason we accepted the price we did (reduced from the original asking price) was because we believed the TVA would not be payable?

2. Secondly is the TVA payable on the sale price or on the net gain (in conjunction with the Capital Gains Tax). As the difference between the two could be quite substantial.

Any assistance would be warmly appreciated



After five years I have just lost my lovely house in Brittany, due to the Notaire's far from adequate attitude in supplying relevant information. The whole was topped by a reoccurance of an inherent mental illness which the Notaire refused to recognise or acknowledge or admit was genuine. So he promptly sold my lovely house which I had spent practically the whole of the las five years renovating. Despite my latter day protests he cheated me and then sells it onto a young French couple who have very idea. I am looking for help to sue the Notair if I can possibly afford it.
Do you know anyone who could be interested in helping me before I soon pass on through shock, gross anger and acute disappointment please?

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