One property or two?

In my quest for the perfect pad, I found a lovely little house with nothing major to do on the reno side which is probably a rarity.

It used to be two adjoining cottages. The current owners knocked through upstairs into the 1 up/1 down cottage to make an extra bedroom and removed the old staircase. The first floor is therefore only accessible from the main house. The one remaining downstairs room of the old cottage simply needs an interior doorway to be created to join it to the main house.

Having just received a preliminary document from the notaire referring to the property being bought as two separate units (presumably based on the original deed) I am now pondering.

Question to those of you who have undoubtedly knocked houses about a bit:

What are the repercussions, if any, if the description remains that I'm technically buying "two" houses instead of one? In Malta the tax man would be jumping for joy! Are the alterations something I should get the notaire to confirm with the vendor and amend the description, or is the property for all intents and purposes simply that which is built on plot number XYZ and the description itself has little bearing?

Confused woman with a headache.

Thank you for that. The lady who is selilng the property (privately, no agents) did only mention the one tax foncier but, as you correctly pointed out, that's no guarantee. Electricity seems to have been put through to the old cottage when it was renewed in the larger cottage so I should imagine there is only the one bill for the premises. Likewise with the water - I don't think there is any in the old cottage. However, due to the number of "maybes" connected with this, I've emailed the notaire, pointed out that the description on the compromis is now not accurate and asked him to confirm the position. And thank you for the advice - gosh you're knowledgeable!

It does sound to me as though the merger of the two properties into a single fiscal unit has not been regularised with the tax authority and land registry.

Is the current owner getting two tax d’habitation and two tax foncier bills, as has been previously asked in an earlier posting? Do not necessarily accept the word of the owner if they say they only get one of each!

If the external appearance of the property has been changed, that also should have received planning approval.

I wonder also what is the position with the electricity and water services?

You would be best advised to sort of this as part of the process of purchase of the property. The notaire should be able to help.

The Centre d’impot fonciers (or Service Cadastrale du Centre des impôts) will need to be contacted to view the Form 6675M descriptive of the property. The notaire can get this for you, or the existing owner.

The existing owner will probably then need to complete a form (either Form H1 or new F6674M depending on the views of the local official), which should also include outline plans of the previous and existing layouts of the property.

It should then be possible to create a single taxable unit.

lol , we don t use them , all our mail arrives at postoffice in mailbox and we collect once a week

I hope your postman doesn't try to sell you two calendars and double his Christmas tips!!

ours has the possibility in the future to be changed again to two properties , as we have two adresses one in the main street and one in the back street and yes two mail boxes lol ...

Excellent. Thank you. I will do some further investigative work. I think postal-wise it's simply classed as one address although that's no guarantee of anything. I will check with the notaire whether it would be classed as one property. On the old plan of the hamlet, it is simply three little adjoining plot numbers. I will get him to clarify before he registers the change of ownership at the local registry so there's no confusion. I don't want to try having to explain the situation at some later date in my appalling French!

If the two houses still have two separate addresses then you might be taxed for two houses. In that case you need to go to the local mairie to have the current situation (one property) legalized and written into the official registers. If it's one adress then the whole property will be taxed accordingly.

As the tax office uses the local registry for their taxationsn you might have to pay one tax for a "maison principale" and a second, higher one for a "maison secondaire" (it's the most ridiculous case, but this is France :-))

But the previous owner(s) are obliged to hand over their last taxations anyway when selling a property so you can check easily.

We had this same situation when we bought our property. However, as we wanted to renovate the buildings,we had no trouble with planning permission and our eventual taxe fonciere has not come as a huge shock .

Check out the tax d'habitation and fonciere though as we bought a large house with dependances that were uninhabitable. Unknown to us one of the dependances had been used previously as two rental flats. Because the roof had fallen in, no electricity nor water nor sewage we had never considered the possibiility that it was taxable. However the tax hadn't been changed since it was being rented and we ended up paying tax on the 2nd property for many years. It wasn't until we had done major works on the main house and the tax office suggested they revise our tax payable that we discovered the situation.

our two in one really worked out well , in the front house upstairs we have two rooms , one used as our bedroom and nextdoor one as office ... the landing is playroom for the kids and also ironing room , display for hubbies southdown buses and other little things he collects --and library --it s the size of two rooms so really nice and in the back we had 4 rooms which are now 5 as we built a second kitchen and bathroom upstairs and made from bathroom downstairs a utility room ... because of the two houses together we have a large double garage , and workshop ..

Thanks Marijke. That's reassuring. In Malta they would charge you tax on one part as being your main residence then make you pay "foreigners tax" on the second part, plus probably assume you would be renting it out illegally, when in fact it's one and the same property. I was a little unnerved at the thought they would think "Oh yes she's buying two houses, let's tax her twice" when it's simply two little cottages knocked together (apart from the one door to be put in on the inside - at the moment the separated room is good for nothing but storage).

We have the same thing , originally it was two houses in two different streets .... on the plans it s still two . but in reality we only have one ... we can enter the house from the front and from the back , the stairs are only remaining in the front house , but we have due to the putting together of the two houses ... 6 rooms upstairs and a huge landing ---and on top of that 200 m2 or attic space ... but we only pay one tax for the property