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When you buy a flat in France*, the floor area has to be mentioned in the acquisition contract. This is commonly known as “surface Carrez” in French, or “surface loi Carrez”. This is compulsory for all flat with an area of at least 8 m2 ( size of small bedroom).
If you sell your flat, in theory you could measure the area yourself, however you would be personally and financially liable if the measured area is erroneous. Therefore, the measurement of the floor area is always done by an accredited professional. As a buyer, you are entitle to and you should ask for the “diagnostiques techniques”**. This will include a certified document with regards to the property’s area based on “Loi Carrez”. The area”loi Carrez” has to be mentioned in the preliminary contract (“compromis de vente”***) and in the final contract or “acte de vente”.
The area “loi Carrez”excludes walls and partitions, walking steps and stairwells, girdles, doorways and windows’ sills. Areas with height to ceiling below 1.80 meters are excluded together with loggias, balconies, terraces, as well as secondaries, cellars, garages and gardens.
If the area is overstated by more than 5% in the final sale contract (“acte de vente”), the buyer has the right, within one year, to ask for a price reduction in proportion to the extent of the area has been understated. The acquisition fees (stamp duties and “notaire fees”) will also be reduced as they are calculated based on the acquisition price. If the area is understated, the seller cannot ask for a price increase.
If the area “Loi Carrez” is not mentioned in the final sale contract (extremely rare, as the notaire should mention it), the buyer can ask for a cancellation of the sale contract within a month.
If the area is overstated by more than 5% in the initial contract (“compromis de vente”):
- 1/ nobody discovers the mistake, the wrong area is reported in the final sale contract (“acte de vente”), therefore the buyer has the right to ask for a price reduction, within one year.
- 2/The error is discovered before the signature of the final sale contract: the buyer can renegotiate the price based on the actual area. If no agreement is possible, the interest of the buyer is to sign the final sale contract with the wrong area and then to ask for a price reduction within a year. Warning: if the buyer accepts the signature of the final sale contract with the updated, true, area, without renegotiating the price, the buyer will not be able to ask for a price reduction after the final contract.
When you are doing your flat hunting, you should always check that the area advertised is “Loi Carrez”. Most of the time it should be the case, however there are still some cases when the seller advertise an area which includes parts which are usually excluded in the “Loi Carrez”. As a seller it is also advised to advertise on a “Loi Carrez” basis, if not the potential buyer will likely try to re negotiate the price based on the “loi Carrez” area.
* a flat in a condominium (in French “un appartement en copropriete”). The area “loi Carrez” is also compulsory for a commercial or professional property in condominium, together with houses in condominiums. However, the area “loi Carrez” is not compulsory for an individual house. Flat sold off plan (“vente sur plan” or “en l’etat future d’achevement”) are also excluded.
**Please read our post “check list before buying property in France”
***Please read our post on “buying or selling property in France “compromis de vente” or “promesse de vente”?”