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Whether you’re plan­ning your move to France, or are al­ready liv­ing out there, our panel of pro­fes­sion­als aims to keep you fully in­formed with the best ad­vice for ev­ery even­tu­al­ity

Living France - - CONTENTS -

Our ex­perts an­swer your ques­tions, in­clud­ing buy­ing a mo­bile home and long-term rentals

PARK LIFE

QI’m considering buy­ing a prop­erty in France and would like to know what the ad­van­tages of buy­ing a mo­bile home would be over a tra­di­tional bricks-and-mor­tar prop­erty? Lucy Hawthorne

AIt all re­ally de­pends on what it is you are look­ing for and your rea­sons for buy­ing. I would al­ways start by say­ing that a mo­bile home is never a fi­nan­cial in­vest­ment as its value won’t in­crease and make you a big profit like some tra­di­tional prop­erty can. If that is what you are look­ing for, a mo­bile home is not for you.

How­ever, there are many ad­van­tages to mo­bile homes and if you are look­ing for a fast, easy way to get a slice of the French life­style, a mo­bile home is def­i­nitely an op­tion worth think­ing about.

Vari­ables to con­sider in­clude whether to buy a new or used mo­bile home, a sin­gle unit or twin and whether you want to rent or pur­chase the plot.

Many peo­ple are at­tracted to the in­stant com­mu­nity that of­ten comes with buy­ing a mo­bile home and the like­minded peo­ple they will in­evitably meet at camp­site parks where on-site fa­cil­i­ties can also be a draw. Mo­bile homes can also be bought at a frac­tion of the cost of a house with­out the has­sle of in­volv­ing es­tate agents and lawyers.

Main­te­nance and run­ning costs are an­other great ben­e­fit as mo­bile homes are very cheap and easy to main­tain. Many parks in­clude your wa­ter and elec­tric­ity within the pitch rental fee and if you have a me­ter and just pay the park di­rectly, there is no deal­ing with en­ergy sup­pli­ers and lo­cal government.

There are great op­tions when it comes to what park you want to stay at. If you want a small and quiet re­treat you can get a plot on a park for a couple of thou­sand euros, some­times less. If you have children or grand­chil­dren, a lit­tle more can get you a five-star park with all the fun and ac­tiv­i­ties they could pos­si­bly need.

The other great thing is that if you see a park and area you like, you can al­ways go and try it out. Get your­self out to France and hire a mo­bile home on the style of park you would like and see if it is for you. KELVIN BREM­NER

PROP­ERTY LAW

QMy part­ner and I have de­cided to buy a house in France and part of our an­nual trip this sum­mer will be spent view­ing prop­er­ties for sale. We’ve done some pre­lim­i­nary re­search into the buy­ing process and would like to have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the op­tions avail­able in terms of struc­tur­ing the pur­chase. What is the dif­fer­ence be­tween en in­di­vi­sion, en ton­tine and buy­ing through an SCI, and would one be more suit­able for us? Jonathan Lis­ter

AA pur­chase en in­di­vi­sion means that on your death, your share in the prop­erty will pass to your rel­a­tives, in the ab­sence of a will. French in­her­i­tance tax will be payable by each of your heirs and the ap­pli­ca­ble rate will de­pend on who in­her­its. In the ab­sence of children, you can make a will giv­ing your share to whomever you choose, but if you give it to your part­ner (as­sum­ing that you are not in a civil part­ner­ship), he/she will be li­able for 60% French in­her­i­tance tax. If you have children, they will re­ceive part of your share in the prop­erty as they are re­served heirs to your es­tate.

In order to pur­chase en ton­tine, a spe­cial clause must be in­serted in the acte de vente (trans­fer deed). The ton­tine can­not be adopted af­ter com­ple­tion of your pur­chase. It can, how­ever, be can­celled if both own­ers agree that it is no longer ap­pro­pri­ate to their per­sonal cir­cum­stances. The ef­fect of the ton­tine

is that on the first death, the sur­viv­ing part­ner will be­come the sole owner of the prop­erty, to the ex­clu­sion of the de­ceased part­ner’s children or rel­a­tives. The sur­viv­ing part­ner must also pay 60% French in­her­i­tance tax. While a pur­chase en in­di­vi­sion can be re­garded as the equiv­a­lent of a te­nancy in com­mon, a pur­chase en ton­tine is sim­i­lar to a joint te­nancy. On the sec­ond death, the prop­erty will pass ei­ther to the children or rel­a­tives of the sur­viv­ing part­ner.

A pur­chase through an SCI (So­ciété Civile Im­mo­bil­ière) al­lows you to avoid the French forced heir­ship rules, pro­vided that you are domi­ciled in the UK when you die. The SCI will own the prop­erty and you will own shares in the com­pany. The shares be­ing move­able as­sets, they will pass un­der English law if you are domi­ciled in Eng­land and you will there­fore have the free­dom to give them to the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of your choice in your will. Please note, how­ever, that French in­her­i­tance tax will re­main payable in France so if you give your shares to your part­ner, he/she will pay 60% in­her­i­tance tax as ex­plained above.

In ad­di­tion to the above, I would stress that the new EU Suc­ces­sion Reg­u­la­tion that came into ef­fect on 17 Au­gust 2015 should be taken into ac­count be­fore de­cid­ing which struc­ture is most suit­able to you. This would be the topic of an­other dis­cus­sion. AN­NIE DIGBY

TRY BE­FORE YOU BUY

QI am a reg­u­lar reader of Liv­ing France and note a num­ber of ar­ti­cles that sug­gest not buy­ing a prop­erty in France ini­tially, but to con­sider rent­ing. This is some­thing I would like to con­sider. I un­der­stand the min­i­mum pe­riod of a French lease is three years, but I also heard that, as a re­tired per­son, I would prob­a­bly have to pay all the rent up­front. Can you please ad­vise. Trish Smith

AIn France it is cus­tom­ary to rent rather than own prop­erty, rent­ing from a pro­fes­sional land­lord whose busi­ness is let­ting prop­er­ties to peo­ple as their per­ma­nent and only place of abode. Their ten­ure is gov­erned by strict rules so land­lords are very care­ful when tak­ing on a ten­ant as it is very dif­fi­cult to evict them for any rea­son and cer­tainly not be­tween Novem­ber and March. These se­cure ten­an­cies are based on terms of three, six or nine years and the prop­er­ties are let un­fur­nished. The nor­mal cri­te­ria re­quired as­sume that you are a salaried per­son with a reg­u­lar in­come and even then, a guar­an­tor may be re­quired. Many peo­ple think that is the only way they can rent a prop­erty in

France. How­ever, there is an al­ter­na­tive, of­ten called ‘long term’ but for our pur­poses, it cov­ers places to rent for longer than a hol­i­day, though shorter than a per­ma­nent let.

You need to find some­where that ad­ver­tises prop­er­ties for sea­sonal lets, and the ma­jor­ity of these will be of­fered for let fur­nished; lo­ca­tion saison­nière (one to four months) or lo­ca­tion meublée (four to 12 months). They will be up to one year be­cause a longer stay or un­fur­nished let could, by de­fault, be­come a stan­dard French te­nancy.

With one of these con­tracts, you will be asked to sign a spe­cific te­nancy agree­ment that states the prop­erty is not the ten­ant’s pri­mary res­i­dence. The rent is paid monthly in ad­vance and a de­posit is usu­ally re­quired. This usu­ally equates to one month’s rent.

There are not many places to look, though there are web­sites ad­ver­tis­ing them as ‘long-term rentals’. Of­ten you’ll find that French es­tate agen­cies do not have ded­i­cated let­ting de­part­ments, and when asked about rental prop­erty they usu­ally as­sume you want a three-year lease. It isn’t easy to find a great deal of choice with­out stay­ing in the area, so per­haps tak­ing a hol­i­day let while you look around might be the an­swer. ANNE CUN­NING­HAM-DAVIS

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