The Loi Carrez (named, not for the unit of measurement, but for the minister of housing who introduced the law) is a protective measure for the buyer in France.
The sale agreement relating to the purchase of a property must state the surface area of the property, in square meters. In 1996, a law was passed establishing a standard way of measuring that size, defining what is and is not “livable” surface area. For example, areas under a ceiling lower than 180 centimeters, typical in rooftop apartments, cannot be counted as livable space.
The Promesse de Vente must state the livable area of a property.
This does not include:
* Anything under 1.8 meters (5’10”); a mezzanine, for example, or cellar
* Stairwells and stairs
* Balconies and terraces
* Separating walls
To measure a property, an expert called a Geometre is required. If after you purchase your property you later discover that there is more than a 5% difference between the stated surface area indicated in your purchase contract and the actual surface area of the property, you have up to one year to contest the sale. The seller is legally bound to reimburse you for the difference and if the surface was certified by an expert, they are similarly liable for the error.
You’ll often see the size of the apartment given in mètres carrés…and, occasionally, mètres Carrez. A 35 mètres carrés (35 square meters) apartment is small; a 35 mètres Carrez (35 official square meters) apartment may seem much bigger by comparison. The way apartments in France (especially rooftop apartments) have been carved from old buildings, the minimum height exclusion can make a difference, so don’t be put off an apartment simply because the size appears small.