The term viager owes its origin to the word viage meaning ‘duration of life’ in old French. The expression indicates the lack of certainty, the unpredictable nature of its length.
This is precisely the essential characteristic of a sale en viager – it is an aleatory contract in the legal sense of the term (article 1964 of the Civil Code).
The viager is a particular way of selling possessions or property which relies on converting all or part of the sale price into an annual and viagère rent (a regular annual revenue for life) in favour of the Seller.
This annual rent is usually paid monthly or quarterly (as agreed between the two parties). It comes into force on the day the notarized act of sale is signed and expires on the death of the Seller. It is governed by articles 1968 and 1983 of the Civil Code.