This Paris Life

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Can you buy your Paris apartment building rooftop?

Buying a piece of the common area in your Paris building is a great way to enhance your living space and add to your property’s value. So: why not buy your building’s rooftop?

In a copropriété, or co-owned building, the roof, hallways, façades, terraces, landings, etc belong to the building and are thus jointly owned by all the co-owners. A little known fact is that any of these can be bought from the building and become privately-owned space. For an owner in the building, this might mean the little extra space they need to add a second bathroom, or create the possibility to integrate top-floor service rooms and create a duplex apartment with fabulous views of the Seine… 

What are the common areas in a building are determined by its co-ownership rules. Where the rules are not clear, the law does provide a reference list that can serve as a helpful guide. In most cases, common areas include:

-courtyards, parks and gardens, driveways
-common equipment, including piping
-hallways and corridors
-the concierge – building superintendent – quarters (usually a small, ground-floor aparment)

The Fnaim — a national union of real estate professionals — lays out the steps involved in acquiring some of the common area from the building.

Whether you’ve got your eye on the building attic, or part of the courtyard — for instance if you own an apartment on the ground floor — the first move is to contact the building’s syndic — the building manager, usually an outside company. The syndic will add your request, to the agenda for the next annual general assembly of the co-owners.

A carefully crafted proposal is the key to success. A proposal should include precise plans, diagrams and/or blueprints, a description of the benefits of the acquisition for yourself and the co-owners, an exact m2 measurement of the proposed acquisition (carried out by a professional surveyor), a draft amendment to the co-ownership rules, details on any building works you intend to undertake. And, most importantly: a proposed price.

In many cases, the piece of common area one owner wants has no value to any of the others. Still, their biggest interest is in the price, which they can use to offset maintenance and other building costs. “Be prepared to justify your offer price” cautions Jerome Cacarie, lead broker of Paris Property Group. “Just because nobody else wants it doesn’t mean the other owners will give it away for free. Don’t let on how much it means to you, but be respectful and offer a fair and justified price.” An estimate from a real estate professional, even two, is a good approach.

In most cases, the sale of a piece of co-owned property requires that two thirds of the co-ownership shares vote in favor. Some co-owned areas require a unanimous vote to be sold: most notably, the concierge quarters for example, since this would eliminate a collective service in the building (even if the building doesn’t currently have a live-in concierge).

When the vote passes, the sale cannot be finalized for two months after the vote. This delay allows co-owners to change their minds or challenge the decision if they don’t agree with the outcome. Once the two months has passed, the sale is recorded by a notaire, and a property deed for this newly-created lot is issued to the purchaser. The purchase money is shared proportionately between the co-owners – including the co-owner who bought the parcel, since he owned a share in it too.

Going through the process is key, even if it’s 1 square meter at play. For top-floor apartments, breaking through the ceiling to expose les combles – the roof tiles – to gain extra ceiling height is a great idea; but that space in between may be co-owned or private property, depending on the building rules. If done right, a little extra space can go a long way to enhance the value of a Paris apartment.

Photo credit: Pixabay / Antranias

Contact Paris Property Group to learn more about buying or selling property in Paris.

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