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TRANSFER OF PROPERTY OWNERSHIP
QMy husband bought a property in France in 2002 with his now ex-wife. They divorced in 2006 and a UK court order states that she gave up all her rights to the French property in exchange for a lump sum. The lump sum was paid over but unfortunately the actual transfer of ownership to my husband was never dealt with. We are now planning to move to France to renovate the property and live there permanently from May 2016.
We contacted the local notaire in France and a document was sent to my husband’s ex-wife six months ago, but she is refusing to sign it. We have been advised that we are facing a lengthy legal case involving both the French and English legal systems if she continues to refuse to sign.
As there is a 2006 UK court order stating that the house belongs solely to my husband, we are unsure of our rights. We are reluctant to start any renovation work which would in turn increase the value of the property, especially if it has to be revalued and then taxes would be due. Donna Davies
AThe UK court order (or possibly the ‘consent order’), which you say states that the French house belongs solely to your husband, will, I suspect, actually state that your husband’s ex-wife agreed to transfer her share of the property to your husband and it is likely that a timescale of up to six months was specified. My advice, therefore, would be
BARBARA HESLOP that your husband instructs the solicitor who dealt with his divorce to seek enforcement of the UK court on the basis of non-compliance by his ex-wife.
The judge can then take steps to force your husband’s ex-wife to sign the document produced by the notaire in France, or even sign it in place of her. The document in question will be a Power of Attorney authorising the notaire’s office in France to deal with the transfer of ownership.
The UK judge is likely to insist on an
BRADY WHEADON English translation of the Power of Attorney being produced. Once the Power of Attorney has been signed and your husband has also signed one, or he attends the notaire’s office in person, the notaire will be able to complete a transfer of ownership deed to show your husband as sole owner of the property. When such a deed is drawn up between existing joint owners, there is a transfer tax of 2.5% payable on the value of the property. This would be payable by your husband. Barbara Heslop