Vice Cache


I am new here. We became owners of an apartment in Cannes 2 days ago. I have always insisted on having the A/C checked before the final papers were signed but the owners did not agree with this. They said the the whole place was renovated 3 years ago the A/C is new and we just buy as it is. The A/C is under a false ceiling therefore you cannot really see the units if they work. Because we insisted so much the agents decided to pay for an A/C check to be done the day after we become owners. Then the surprise appeared one of the 3 units was not working and it was disconnected form the whole sistem. We told immediately to the Notaires to retain some of the money but nothing was done.The AC company said that it will cost EUR 5,000 to repai and it is not possible to replace it.

The advice from the Notaire was to pay a lawyer to write a letter to the owners etc.

Anyone can help me with some advice ? Thanks a lot !

Hi Alea,

The issue is that a "vice caché" is a defect that prevents "the use of the good in normal conditions". I am not sure it applies to AC.

Also make sure that the deed does not contain a clause exempting the seller from any liability regarding the "vices cachés".

If you wish to claim, the first thing to do is collect all documents that prove you asked for the survey before the purchase. Secondly, ask the AC company a written quote to support your action.

You may first try to send a letter to the seller (registered post) to ask him to pay for the repair while mentioning the fact that you could otherwise go to court. I would recommend not to confront the seller but to write that letter as kind of amicable settlement (conciliation à l'amiable).

If it does not work, you'll probably have to ask a lawyer because for damages over 4000€ you cannot claim to the "juridiction de proximité" (local court with simplified procedures).


Hi Christian

Thank you for your reply. There is that clause in the contract but it does not apply if the owner knew about the vice and did not disclose . They never mentioned any issues with this A/C and it was disconnected which means someone had to disconnect.

We will write to the owner.

Will tried to find a lawyer but so far no luck.

The amount is too small and they do not want to get involved.

What if we claim less than Eur 5,000 is it something that we can do without a lawyer in the local court ?

Dear Christian,

To clarify your situation and assuming that the faulty A/C can be deemed a "latent defect" (vice caché), your choice would be:

- A cancellation of the contract (although you would probably have to evidence that the A/C was a substantial condition of the purchase without which you would not have signed),

- A reduction of the price (you would then be liable to carry out your own repairs),

- Repairs paid by the seller.

In this case and considering the outstanding sum, I suggest to contact a local consumer group (association de défense des consommateurs). A quick Google search including these French terms and the département where the property is situated should give you a list.

You may also have legal cover (usually known in insurance policies as “protection juridique”) in your building and content insurance policy (assurance multirisque habitation).

I hope this helps.

Kind regards,

Guillaume Barlet-Batada

Hi Alea,

Good, but you'll have to prove taht the seller was aware of the issue.

You can claim without a lawyer even in front of the next level court (Tribunal d'instance). It's just a bit more complicated.

Regarding the first level court (juridiction de proximité), to substantiate your claim you can either send a letter or a form you download at

You'll have to send it at your local juridiction de proximité. For Cannes it is :

Tribunal d'Instance de Cannes

19 boulevard Carnot
CS 40016


I once again recommend trying to settle the issue amicably first, and on the basis of the 5000€.... You may try to contact a consumer union as was wisely advised but my guess is that they are not as good in private individual vs private individual disputes as they are in consumer vs company ones.


Hi thank you for your advice ! We want only the owner to fix the problem. We will contact the Organisation de consummateurs because I believe it is not viable to get a lawyer. The lawyer asked for Eur 800 just to review the case. I do hope that there are some associations to help in cases like this, otherwise you just see people like these owners continuing to cheat people because nothing can get to them. We had few other issues with these people traying to cheat us during the process. But now after the papers were signed we need to find a way to make them rectify the issues. We told the Notaire about this issue before the money was actually transferred to the owners but the Notaire did not do anything to help us.