What should I do if I want to dissolve my French property SCI?

Owning a French property through an SCI brings with it some extra complications, including with the new property tax declaration. We asked the experts whether dissolving the SCI is a good idea, and how you go about doing that.

What should I do if I want to dissolve my French property SCI?

An SCI – société civile immobilière – is a non-trading real estate company made up of at least two people. Essentially, it allows people to own property such as a second home through shares of a company, rather than under their own name.  

There are more than one million properties in France that are registered as SCIs, but most of them were created some years ago. In previous decades, they were quite popular, but SCIs have become less common as time has gone on and several tax loopholes have been closed.

For foreigners who own second-homes in France, the 2015 EU ruling on inheritance means that for many people their rationale for having an SCI – bypassing French inheritance laws – no longer applies.

Additionally SCIs, particularly for foreigners, represent a large administrative burden, and as such can also become a drain on finances when it is necessary to seek legal and financial counsel. 

Some SCI owners have also run into problems with the new French property tax declaration

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: The new French property declaration form for SCI owners

“An SCI is a large commitment. It means you will agree to run a company, and that involves paperwork and meetings”, explained Paris-based notaire, Laure Gaschignard.

Gaschignard told The Local that there are two primary situations where people might want to set up an SCI. The first would be for couples who are not married or pacsé (civil partnership), but want to buy property together and set up an inheritance system where the one is able to maintain either a portion of or the entire property in the event of the other’s death.

The other situation Gaschignard noted was for those who have unique family situations and are in need of a more flexible way to structure their property ownership and inheritance. 

For others, there might be some tax-based interests in setting up an SCI depending on their financial portfolio, but many have found that owning property in this manner may not have been as financially lucrative or simple administratively as previously intended.

As a result, some are wondering whether the best solution would be to simply dissolve their SCI and reclaim the property under their own name.

How can you go about switching it back?

While it is possible to dissolve an SCI and get the property back under your own name, it might be more costly to dissolve the SCI rather than to maintain it. 

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: The advantages and pitfalls of buying French property with an SCI

First, there are some scenarios where an SCI should be dissolved – if it has has reached its expiration date (typically, this is set to 99 years) or if there terms were put into contracts that set up a specific lifespan for the SCI, if there is an intent to sell the property, or if partners to the SCI opt to sell their shares to a single partner. An SCI can also be dissolved by court decision, if necessary.

Otherwise, if the partners wish to dissolve the SCI, then they must hold a special meeting to vote on the plan and to appoint a ‘liquidator’. 

Several administrative steps will follow, including publishing a posting in a legal newspaper and filing for dissolution.

It is strongly recommended that people seek professional advice on this.

Is it advisable to do so?

You should be aware that if the SCI has appreciated in value significantly, then you will likely be taxed on liquidation. While it would be possible to recover your assets, depending on the situation, you could lose out on funds in the process. 

You may owe capital gains taxes, depending on which regime you were taxed and whether the SCI is your primary residence.

According to Maître Edouard Pruvost, the best option for those looking to dissolve would be to meet with legal counsel and find out approximately how much you stand to gain or lose in the dissolution process. 

This article is a general overview on the issue of SCIs and does not constitute legal advice. Anyone with an SCI is strongly advised to seek professional advice from a lawyer with expertise in the French legal and tax systems.

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The rules for installing air conditioning in your French home

Air conditioning does not come as standard in French homes, so if you want it this summer, you may need to install it yourself. However, as well as being expensive, this can be a complicated process.

The rules for installing air conditioning in your French home

The first thing to look at is property ownership, and as you would expect this is a lot simpler if you own your own home, in a single building.

Single-family home owners

If you own your own house you can install air-conditioning, although depending on the works that you need to do you may need planning permission from the mairie, and if you live in a historic or protected zone you may not be able to make any alterations to the exterior of your building.

This means you will likely need to submit a ‘déclaration préalable‘ (found HERE), and you can count on processing times being at least a few weeks.

READ MORE: How to get planning permission for your French property

It’s also quite a costly undertaking.

An air conditioner itself ranges from €250 to €12,000, depending on its capabilities. You will also need to consider installation costs as well as annual maintenance fees, plus added energy expenses.

Communal buildings

If you live in an apartment or a shared building which has a syndicat (similar to a homeowner’s association in the US) you will almost certainly need to get permission from the syndic to install air-conditioning – even if you own your apartment.

If you intend to do any work that affects the exterior of the building you will likely also need planning permission. 

READ MORE: PROPERTY: What you need to know about ‘copropriété’ fees in France


If you rent your home, you will need permission from the landlord, who in turn may need permission from the building syndic if it is a shared building. The landlord is also responsible for getting the relevant planning permission.

Who bears the costs depends on the relationship you have with your landlord, if you are a great tenant and have a good relationship your landlord may agree to pay to get it installed, but this is far from being a standard feature of French homes so don’t expect the landlord to pay.

Your landlord may agree if you offer to pay the costs yourself, but they are under no obligation to do so, and it’s the landlord that is responsible for sorting out things like planning permission and (if applicable) agreement from the syndic


If you either can’t afford air-conditioning or your landlord isn’t keen on installing it (or you’re worried about the environmental impact – not only does AC guzzle energy, it also contributes to the ‘heat sink’ effect that can make cities up to 10C hotter than the surrounding area) there are some alternatives.

You could consider getting a heat pump – expensive to install but very eco-friendly, these will keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Because of their very low energy usage, they will also eventually end up saving you money on annual heating/cooling bills.

READ ALSO Everything you need to know about installing a heat pump in France

The alternative to a full air-conditioning system is a free-standing AC unit, which has a hose like a clothes dryer that hangs out of the window. These are less effective than full AC systems but nonetheless provide some cooling.

You won’t need planning permission as you’re not making any structural alterations, but if you live in a building with a syndic you may still need their permission to install one, depending on the rules of your building (some syndics are very strict and even forbid things like hanging clothes out to dry or storing items on your balcony).

The other alternative is an electric fan – either a desk fan or a standing fan – which don’t require any kind of installation or permission. These are on sale in almost all electrical retailers and many large supermarkets (although they often sell out in the first days of a heatwave).

READ MORE: 9 tips to keep your French home cool without air conditioning

There are also lots of ways of keeping your home cool without AC, including using shutters or curtains to block out the sun.