The buyer's rights
Obligations related to the measurement of the living area
When we think of the obligations related to the measurement of the living area, we often think of the famous Carrez law (Law n° 96-1107 of December 18, 1996 improving the protection of purchasers of co-ownership lots). This law only applies to condominiums, apartments and houses. However, it does not apply to single-family homes, to housing sold off-plan, since in the context of a contract of sale in future state of completion (Vefa), the developer is already required to indicate the surface area in the deeds due to other legislation. It does not apply to cellars, garages and parking spaces, nor to lots or fractions of lots with a surface area of less than 8 m².
Please note that the Carrez law does not require the measurement to be carried out by a professional. The previous owner may therefore have taken the measurements himself, which may be a source of error, fraud or misapplication of the Carrez law in determining the living area. Indeed, the surface area under the Carrez law corresponds to very precise standards. Thus, only private surfaces with a minimum ceiling height of 1.80 meters must be taken into account. In order to avoid any dispute regarding the living area, it is therefore recommended that you have the property measured by a professional (surveyor, architect, real estate diagnostician) before any purchase.
Is it possible to ask for the nullity of the sale?
According to the Carrez law, the sales agreement, the unilateral promise of sale or purchase, as well as any contract realizing or noting the sale of a lot or a fraction of a lot, mentions the surface area of the private part of this lot.
If the surface area is not mentioned, you may bring an action for nullity before the judge to have the sale cancelled at the latest at the end of a period of one month as from the notarial act recording the sale. So be careful with the deadline! It is recommended to contact a lawyer or his insurance company as soon as the dispute arises in order not to risk the rejection of your request and the exceeding of the deadline!
The signing of the notarial deed before the notary causes the benefit of nullity of the promise to sell to be lost, even if a contentious action is brought before the signing of the notarial deed. So do not sign the deed if the living area is not mentioned!
However, if the notarial deed has been signed, all is not lost! It is possible to go through the general contract law to obtain the nullity. The assistance of a counsel or an expert will then be essential for you to draw up the deeds in this highly technical matter. The counsel will try, to provoke the nullity of the sale, to invoke the defect of your consent. He will be able to plead an error on your part, which is a cause of nullity of the contract when it concerns a substantial quality of the property.
If the previous owner tried to deceive you by fraudulent maneuvers and/or misleading statements, the legal advisor will be able to raise the fraudulent nature of the contract and obtain the annulment of the sale before the judge.
How to ask for a reduction of the sale price?
If however, you do not wish to cancel the sale because you are in the apartment of your dreams and you still wish to be compensated, in the absence of an amicable agreement with the seller on a possible reduction of the price, the Carrez law has provided for an action in reduction of the price which allows you to have a reduction of the price proportional to the real measure of the surface area of the dwelling if the surface area of the property sold is less than 1/20th of the surface area expressed in the deed.
In other words, the error on the surface area must be more than 5% of the one expressed in the deed for this action to be available to you. Be careful with the time limit! For this action in reduction, the time limit is one year as from the notarial act recording the realization of the sale, under penalty of forfeiture.