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Commonly used phrases and their meanings

Finding your way around French legal terminology isn’t always easy. Here are some of the most commonly used phrases and their meanings:

achat – purchase

acte authentique – deed of sale

acte de vente (also acte d’achat) – transfer or conveyance of land

attestation d’acquisition – certificate from notaire that a property purchase has been completed

avocat – lawyer/solicitor

bail – lease or tenancy agreement

bon pour achat – good for acquisition – phrase often used in contracts

cadastre – land register or registry

Certificat d’urbanisme – outlines the rights and planning laws that affect a piece of land/property

clause suspensive – a conditional clause in a contract that needs to be fulfilled for the sale to reach completion

clause tontine – a clause that means the property will pass automatically to the survivor on the first death

compromis de vente – contract for sale and purchase of property

conditions suspensives – conditional terms in the pre-sale agreement

constructible – land designated for building under planning rules

copropriété – co-ownership

dépôt de garantie – deposit

dévis – written quotation

droits de succession – death duties/inheritance tax

émoluments – fees, as in a notaire’s fees

états des lieux – document detailing the state of repair or condition in general of property; in an off plan purchase, for example, there is an états des lieux on the handing over the keys.

expertiser – to assess or value a property

frais de notaire – total fees, including land registration duty, paid to the notaire on top of the sale price

géomètre or géomètre expert – a surveyor appointed by the notaire to ascertain the dimensions of the property

hypothèque – mortgage/charge on a property

lu et approuvé – read and approved – words that often appear on a contract

notaire – legal official charged by state with handling property transactions

permis de construire – planning permission

plan cadastral – land registry plan, showing boundaries of plots of land and property

prendre l’immeuble vendu dans son état au jour de la prise de possession – where the buyer takes the property ‘in its present condition’

TTC – toutes taxes comprises – all taxes included, referrring not just to sales tax but any tax

TVA – taxe sur la valeur ajoutée – value added tax or VAT

Taxe d’habitation – tax on the occupation of a property/council tax

Taxe fonciére – local property tax

testament – will

vente en l’état futur d’achèvement or VEFA – off-plan sale.



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