Top tips for buy-to-let investors

Investing in buy- to-let properties in France can be a great long-term investment and provide a retirement bolt-hole - but you should acquaint yourself with the different rules and protocol for dealing with tenants in France, says Kent debt recovery specialist Martin Kingman.

Martin, who heads the debt recovery and insolvency team at leading regional law firm Furley Page, explains: “Renting properties in France can be an attractive option but remember is that the legal system in France differs greatly from the UK’s. France has a codified civil law which means it’s condensed into one document known as the French Civil Code.”

Martin’s top tips:

A debtor is sued in his country of residence – unless another is specified in the agreement

Seek advice so you understand the time limit on bringing a claim. In France this is called prescription and is generally 30 years but there are exceptions. (In the UK limitation is usually six years.)

It’s advisable to send a letter before taking action. In France, the Mise en Demeure (MeD) has the effect of triggering interest immediately on a claim. (In the UK where the claimant is a business and the debtor an individual, the Letter before Action - LBA - must advise the debtor to seek independent legal advice, point out where this can be obtained free, and allow them 14 days to respond.)

The MeD should be written in French, sent by registered post and include the full name and address of the debtor; amount of the debt and the relevant currency; details of the creditor; a brief description of the sum owed and why; the deadline for a response; and mention of the article 1153 of the French Civil Code to allow interest to be claimed

mpk@furleypage.co.uk

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