Roche & Cie

SAFER, essential when buying rural property in France.

Since the 1960s, the Sociétés d’Aménagement Foncier et d’Etablissement Rural (Societies of Land Development and Rural Establishment) (Safer) ensure to preserve the development of the French rural territory. They have been created to allow a more productive agriculture but gradually their mission has been enlarged and aims today to revitalize agriculture and forest areas, to encourage the settlement of young people, to protect landscapes and natural resources and to support the Development of the local economy.

The main actions of Safer are land surveys and the purchase, sale of goods, and the management of agricultural, forestry and rural property.

When acquiring a rural property (plots of land, vineyards, real estate in rural areas, etc.), the buyer and the seller are informed of the potential intervention of the local SAFER which has a right of first refusal, c That is to say the possibility of purchasing the property in the place of the purchaser. SAFER can then resell or lease it temporarily to farmers or public establishments. Sometimes these goods are retained.

The aim is to improve agricultural land structures: the establishment or maintenance of farmers, the safeguarding of the family character of the farm, the fight against land speculation, the consolidation of farms in order to Economic development and the improvement of the fragmented distribution of

In 2015, they acquired 10,300 properties for 83,800 hectares and 1,040,000 euros.

It is a true sword of Damocles for the purchaser who can see his acquisition project disappearing following this preemption. This article will allow you to take stock of the scope of intervention of the SAFER and their modalities of intervention.

At what times does SAFER have a right of pre-emption?

When selling a bare land.

If the land has an agricultural use or if it has an agricultural vocation on the day of its alienation, it may be within the scope of the right of preemption of the SAFER.

This includes land situated in an agricultural zone or a natural and forest zone defined by an urban planning document or, in the absence of an urban planning document, those located in the urban areas of towns The exclusion of forests and forests. In addition, bare lands are treated as those which only support fallow land, ruins or temporary installations, or even equipment which does not permanently compromise the agricultural vocation of the property

Some parcels classified as wood in the cadastre may also be concerned.

During the sale of farm buildings

Also subject to SAFER’s pre-emption right are the farm buildings that are used for agricultural use on the day of sale and the residential buildings that are part of a farm.

Buildings that have been used for farming in the last 5 years prior to the alienation may also be pre-empted, SAFER may acquire them only for the purpose of making them Agricultural use.

During certain donations

The Macron law of August 6, 2015 also extended the right of preemption of the SAFER to certain donations. The SAFER pre-emptive right is subject to donations between third parties, that is to say that which are not realized ascending and descending, between collateral up to the sixth degree, between spouses or pacsés and between a person and the descendants His spouse or his pacsé, or between these descendants

During dismembered transfers.

The law of the future for agriculture no 2014-1170 of 13 October 2014 extended the exercise of pre-emption to transfers for consideration of usufruct or bare ownership previously excluded from the pre-emption field of SAFER .

Cases where SAFER does not have a right of first refusal

Depending on the qualities they present (parents, allies, co-heirs, agricultural professionals, etc.), certain purchasers of rural goods may exclude SAFER’s right of first refusal.

The existence of a priority right of pre-emption also prevents the SAFER intervention, which passes after the preferential rights granted by law to public entities (State, public authorities, public institutions) and certain private persons. SAFER’s right of preemption is held in check, under certain conditions, by the existence of an operator.

In order to evade SAFER’s right of pre-emption, the parties often intend in practice to precede the sale of a lease. The assembly is not in itself reprehensible, but it must not involve fraudulent intention and rest on a regular lease.

Land intended to support the construction of a single-family dwelling may be exempted, which applies only to land of lesser size, ie 2,500 square meters per house, or to the minimum area Regulation if it is superior.

The modalities of the preemption of the SAFER

The SAFER may pre-empt purely and simply by accepting the price and the conditions mentioned in the information transmitted to it by the notary. In this case, the sale is perfect for the SAFER. It may also pre-empt by revising the price. In this case, the SAFER makes an offer to purchase. The seller then has 6 months from the receipt by the notary of the decision of the SAFER to withdraw the property from the sale. He may also lodge a complaint with the High Court in order to fix the price.

Finally, where the alienation concerns both agricultural land and residential or operating buildings or where it concerns goods subject to the SAFER pre-emptive right and others for which it Does not have a right of pre-emption, the SAFER has a partial pre-emption right: it may in particular, if it wishes, pre-emptive only the agricultural land or the property subject to its right of preemption.

In the case of the sale of a rural property, the question of the intervention of the SAFER must arise. This right of pre-emption allowing them to bypass real estate transactions and regulate the agricultural land market is feared by the actors of the rural world and must be anticipated by the councils of the parties in order to be controlled to the best.


Muriel Brault


Cabinet Roche & Cie, English speaking accountant in Lyon, France.
Specialist in Real-Estate and Non-resident taxation.