Step 2. Filing an application with the Tax Office or the Land Registry
As second step, information regarding the property's current owner can be sought from the local tax office. Beware however! All forms are in French and must be properly completed. The local tax department is unlikely to accept emails other than in French language and identifying the relevant local tax office in charge with land tax can prove challenging. Needless to say, the results are being issued in French too and the document you'll receive can prove hard to decipher.
What you get are merely tax records. These are updated on the 1st of January each year and may not be accurate when you search for the property owner's details.
If you are looking for further, official information such as the property's ownership history and whether the property is subject to any charge, mortgage, liens or other encumbrances, a different search must be made, by sending an application form to the French land registry. A straightforward thing as it seems? Well, not quite so.
The form (in French only) is rather formal. Applying for ownership information is somewhat of a minefield. If any of the below happens, your application gets declined and any fees paid to the registry are lost:
- The information you put in the form, regarding the relevant land plot or building, is incomplete or wrong;
- The property is situated within a condominium, such as a block of flats for example and you failed to mention what the property's relevant reference number, within the condo, is;
- You emailed the form, instead of sending it by mail;
- You sent the search form to the wrong land registry offices (there are over 350 local land registry offices across the whole country and no nationwide searches are possible);
- You did not fill-in and sign the required number of original application forms;
- Payment is either missing, or incorrect (fees vary depending on how many properties you are making the search on and whether you wish the results to be mailed or emailed to you);
- All searches being primarily payable by cheque, you send a cheque in a currency other than Euro or drawn from an account held by a bank outside France, or made out to the wrong payee.