For historical reasons, France has two land advertising systems: the system of general law and that implemented in the departments of Lower Rhine, Upper Rhine and Moselle.
In these three departments, land is advertised in the land register kept by the land offices, while in the rest of France it is carried out at land advertising services (SPF), which keep the property file.
What information can be found in the property file and in the land register?
The building file shall publish documents.
Thus, by way of illustration, there is any document transferring ownership of a property (for example, a deed of sale or a deed of sharing), even if that act is conditional, any taking or establishing a right in rem (for example, gift or transfer of usufruct over a building), judicial decisions relating to a building, decisions of the administrative authorities limiting the right to dispose, long-term leases, clauses limiting the right to property (for example, a clause of inalienability), overtures on a building (for example, mortgages or most privileges).
The property book of Alsace-Moselle, on the other hand, publishes rights.
The title is entered in the land register, the right to property in a building which is the result of an act but also a situation of fact (the right to property arising from usuculion or accession). Include, for example, the area or any other right in rem conferred by a lease, usufruct, use, dwelling, easements, liens, mortgages, tenants’ and tenant’s rights for 12 years’ leases, rights resulting from certain judicial decisions, etc.
How do you consult the property register and the land register?
Outside the three French departments of Lower Rhine, Upper Rhine and Moselle, the property register is held in France by the Land Advertising Services (SPF). These SPF are independent from each other. France is gradually reducing the number of FPS in its territory. While there were 354 few, there are currently 120.
Anyone wishing to collect information about the legal situation of a building must apply to the SPF, on which the building is based. It may, by way of illustration, know the names of the successive owners and the price of the various sales. Each department shall issue to any applicant the information and copies of documents in the building file relating to a building or a person holding a building which falls within its remit. This information is not free of charge. Their costs differ according to the type and number of applications. This information is currently not centralised. Consequently, in order to know the information relating to buildings located in different springs, it is necessary to make as many applications as there are FPS concerned.
This file is now entirely digitised and computerised. As part of a computer system under way of general use, some French notaries have access to the data held by all the French Federal Public Service (SPF) at the same time, via a server managed by the High Council of the Notariat. This direct access to the data in the building file is not open to other legal professionals or individuals.
As regards the departments of Lower Rhine, Upper Rhine and Moselle, the land register has been fully computerised since 2008. Consulting the data in the land register and the register of deposits, on the spot or at a distance, shall be free. Any person who consults that data may obtain a copy of it from the Registry or the public establishment. The copy shall be issued by the public establishment by way of simple information. These services are not free of charge.
The consultation rights differ according to the quality of the applicant’s person. Some professionals, such as notaries, have a wider right of consultation (possibility to carry out searches in all book data concerning both people and buildings). Consultation by name of person is open to other professionals, such as lawyers, or in particular to a person with an enforceable title or authorisation from the judge. Consultation by building is open to all.
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