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Living France - - Les Pratiques -


QMy hus­band and I re­cently trav­elled to France to sign the com­pro­mis de vente for a property we hoped to pur­chase. As our ap­point­ment was first thing in the morn­ing, and we had only ar­rived the pre­vi­ous evening, we did not have time to view the property again be­fore the sign­ing. It was only when look­ing around af­ter­wards that we spot­ted a few is­sues that we had over­looked on the pre­vi­ous vis­its. We re­turned to the UK a couple of days later and af­ter much ag­o­nis­ing, de­cided to with­draw from the pur­chase. We sent an of­fi­cial let­ter by courier which was ‘signed for’ by the no­taire on the last day of the cool­ing-off pe­riod. This was now five weeks ago, and al­though the com­pro­mis stated that our de­posit monies should be re­turned within three weeks, we have not re­ceived our money back. Our spo­ken French is not won­der­ful, so we have emailed (rather than tele­phoned) on sev­eral oc­ca­sions, but have not had a re­ply. Is this nor­mal? Should we be wor­ried, and how do we sort it out? KATH RISELY

AThe 10-day cool­ing-off pe­riod does of­fer im­mense pro­tec­tion for a per­son who may wish to buy a property in France. It of­fers the op­por­tu­nity for some­one to con­sider their sit­u­a­tion and per­haps de­cide that the pur­chase may not be right for them. It starts when a copy of the con­tract, af­ter sig­na­ture by both par­ties, is sent to the buyer by reg­is­tered post or MATTHEW CAMERON is part­ner and head of the French Le­gal Ser­vice team at law firm Ashton KCJ www.ash­ handed to the buyer in per­son by a no­taire if the buyer signs it at the no­taire’s of­fice.

In this case, the sit­u­a­tion is ap­par­ently that there were some par­tic­u­lar prob­lems with the property that had not come to light pre­vi­ously; if that is the case then the de­ci­sion to with­draw is un­der­stand­able. It is not, how­ever, nec­es­sary for the buy­ers to jus­tify why they do not wish to pro­ceed: they are per­fectly at lib­erty, within the 10-day pe­riod, to can­cel the pur­chase on a whim. And with­drawal by one mem­ber of a couple would ter­mi­nate for both.

How­ever, the tim­ing and method of no­ti­fy­ing the with­drawal are strict: it must be served in per­son or by reg­is­tered post at least. In this case, it ap­pears that the no­tice was sent within the re­quired time pe­riod, and by courier, so that would be suit­able.

If the ter­mi­na­tion is no­ti­fied prop­erly, then the no­taire is obliged to re­fund the de­posit within 21 days. If this has not hap­pened, the next step may be to com­plain about the no­taire: there are ways in which a com­plaint can be raised. The as­sis­tance of a spe­cial­ist so­lic­i­tor in Eng­land may help. MATTHEW CAMERON


QHow can I im­prove the ser­vice I of­fer guests at my hol­i­day let to cre­ate more in­come and get re­peat book­ings each year? To com­pete with oth­ers, I know I need to of­fer some­thing spe­cial. ELEONORA GLAD­WELL

ACus­tomer ser­vice is im­por­tant th­ese days, so ex­pand­ing guests’ hol­i­day ex­pe­ri­ence can cre­ate re­peat book­ings – and in­crease your prof­itabil­ity.

If you live on-site, you might of­fer meals to your guests as an ex­tra, whether break­fast or a home-cooked din­ner. To keep things sim­ple, have a sin­gle set menu with vege­tar­ian and al­lergy op­tions, us­ing fresh, lo­cal in­gre­di­ents. Other ideas are sell­ing a pic­nic for lunch or or­gan­is­ing a communal curry, wine-tast­ing or bar­be­cue night.

Make rec­om­men­da­tions for wines from an ex­clu­sive, friendly lo­cal vine­yard and maybe sell lo­cal, home­made prod­ucts to your guests. Could you of­fer baby-sit­ting for par­ents who want an evening out?

Ac­tiv­i­ties and cour­ses mean ei­ther pass­ing on your own ex­per­tise or buy­ing it in lo­cally. Ar­range paint­ing classes or land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy or you could help guests im­prove their French with classes. JOHN BUSBY is pri­vate clients di­rec­tor of French Pri­vate Fi­nance, spe­cial­ists and ad­vis­ers in French mort­gages. www.french­pri­vate­fi­nance. com

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