Mon Garage

26 Jan

As, I’m sure, most if not all folks will realise, the words ‘mon garage’ translate as ‘my garage’. That rotten garage became the primary battleground for many skirmishes between me and the locataire (tenant) who lives his life in style in our French house that can never be a home for us!

In fact, there are two locataires. The guy, who I will call Monsieur C during these ramblings, has lived in the house since 1998, as far as we can ascertain – we have never seen a formal document to verify. The other locataire, a hairdresser who operates her business from the ground floor of the house, and who I will call Mademoiselle S, is not a resident living in the building. Mademoiselle S operates her business as a ‘lock-up’; she didn’t have her business when we purchased the property, she sort of ‘moved in’ several months after we purchased!

Neither locataire has a formal Lease nor a formal Contract to Rent any part of the property. Well, that’s what our first avocat told us in August 2007, and we have not seen any document to change our understanding. The only person who did have formal documents to Lease the hairdressing shop was Madame A. Madame A had leased the shop since 1998, her 9 years Commercial Lease was due to end in December 2007, she was moving on to enjoy extending her family, the shop would be closed forever.

We had been informed by the Immobilier (Estate Agent) that the house had previously been used as a block of apartments, but that would not be the case when we purchased. Every time we viewed the property, pre-purchase, we saw no evidence of inhabitants, nobody skulking around corners, no human presence except us and the Immo, and our commissioned architect on two occasions. The property was empty – apart from some junk in one of the cellars and more junk in a small section of the huge loft.

So, very happy with what we saw as our dream property; ecstatically happy with the architect’s formally quoted cost of renovating and restoring the property to one family house, we paid the deposit to the Immo to forward to the notaire. Voila! Our expectations were en route!

Now, for those who don’t know, paying a deposit in France is a legally binding agreement. I’m not going to explain, clarify, quantify or qualify all the French legalities, processes and proceedings when purchasing a property in France. That would be totally boring! But, please ask for more information if you want more information. Simples!

Once the deposit was paid and relevant documents signed, approved, sealed and filed, the rot set in! Monsieur C emerged from the closet aka his extended vacance (holiday) with a hand-scribed, crumpled piece of paper that had obviously been torn out of a note-book some time ago, and which he called his Rental Contract. The so-called Rental Contract included the following parts of the property: a spacious three-roomed bed-sittingroom, kitchen, shower/wc/sink, on the existing top floor, ie the second floor. In addition, his rented areas were the sole garage, for sole use of, one of the three cellars for sole use of, x amount of square metres of loft space for his sole use, and one of the five derelict outbuildings in the rear yard, again, for his sole use.

Almost distraught, we immediately drove to the Immo’s office in Egletons, in the Correze, and we told him we wished to withdraw our offer with immediate effect. Obviously, we told him why we needed to follow such a course of action, and we requested the return of our hard-earned money. The Immo’s response was life-shattering. We could not, in French Napoleonic law, withdraw our offer without subjecting ourselves to a lawsuit that he knew the sellers would bring against us. We would be held, in French law, to pay the full value of the property purchase price, plus all costs, plus the Immo’s fees, plus an amount to the notaire for her wasted time and effort, plus compensation to the sellers.

Well, that was reality! Where could we go from there?


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10 responses to “Mon Garage

  1. samthemuttPeter Howe

    January 26, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Hopefully one day you will get your retribution againsy the seller, when you do then you must write a book about your story.

    • hobosinfrance

      January 26, 2012 at 6:50 pm

      Thank you, Pete – and Sam! Indeed, that is my intention. In fact, the book is being written now, but the legal ‘stuff’ was bogging me down and boring me to tears! Family and I have been living the legal fiasco for well over 4 years, blogging the entire sad story (to date) gives me an opportunity to present the situation in a much lighter fashion, whilst portraying the serious effects of an incompetent French legal system on our lives. Your comment is greatly appreciated. I do hope you continue reading. Warmest regards, Chrissie

  2. John

    January 26, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    my partner too purchased a property on what she thought was 50/50 but turns out she owns the whole property but no rights to it, shocking, hope you sort your legal issues and get what is legally yours returned, and rent too….

    • hobosinfrance

      January 26, 2012 at 9:33 pm

      Thank you very much for your comment, John, what a nightmare for your partner. Has that situation been resolved? The locataire can’t be forced to move, Napoleonic law that has been underpinned and strengthened by the current Government! As will evolve during the coming blog pages, our only chance was to prove vice caché aka a fraudulent sale (we proved the fraud in the Appeal Court in December 2009!!), and for the Cour de Cassation (Supreme Court) to force our sellers to return our money to us. Your interest is much appreciated. Warmest regards, Chrissie

      • John

        January 26, 2012 at 10:30 pm

        no we are still trying to sort our mess out, we’ve now put property up for sale and now they want to ‘capital gains tax’ sting us…. i love france but sometimes its so frustrating, how ever do the french survive lol

      • hobosinfrance

        January 26, 2012 at 10:54 pm

        OMG! What a nightmare, and, of course, the CGT laws have just changed, leaving so many folks in the same situation as you where payment of CGT is concerned. John, my husband will be 66 this year, I will be 63, but we are still having to pay tax d’habitation because our house that’s not a home is being treated by the bureaucrats as our maison secondaire – our primary home is, they insist, our tent! We have found most French people to be strong, but they, and this beautiful country, are drowning in bureaucracy, cotisations and what we see as pure diktat. I am so sorry to hear of your situation. Warmest regards, Chrissie

  3. John

    January 27, 2012 at 1:09 am

    ahh its ok, just a part of life, we must suck our teeth and roll on with life, seems the good guys always loose lol 😀

    • hobosinfrance

      January 27, 2012 at 9:40 am

      Not necessarily, John, perhaps people power can turn things around. Never say never! I know of several ongoing cases like ours here in France, not as bad as ours, but close! In June 2010, a Judgement made in the Cour de Cassation ruled in favour of a French woman who had fought for 6 years to prove vice caché against her sellers. That case boosted our hopes. The Judgement confirmed that if the sellers do not reveal all facts prior to the sale, that transaction is null and void. So, the French judiciary can get it right, but it takes time and money. Sadly, time and money are at a premium for many folks; Tom and I are in our autumn years and we both have life-threatening illnesses that have been aggravated by immense levels of stress, time is not on our side. We were told by an avocat in 2008 that we would win if we didn’t give up – however, the avocat hinted at a battle lasting 2-3 years. In fact, most of these cases take 5-7 years to be resolved. Warmest regards, Chrissie

  4. landespyreneesproperties

    February 11, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    of course you could have withdrawn!! Oh how evil that immobilier is! The maximum you would have had to pay was 10 percent of the purchase price but in any event you had a valid reason for withdrawal. I have been an estate agent for 8 years.

    • hobosinfrance

      February 11, 2012 at 1:57 pm

      Yes, we discovered too late about the real penalties for withdrawing. But, today, we wonder if we would have escaped by only paying 10 percent! In view of how our Case has fared so far, we believe our sellers may well have attempted to sue us for an awful lot more than 10 percent. Given the way things have gone, they would probably have succeeded, too! You are right about the Immobilier, and he has escaped, thus far – he refused to give evidence for us, because he did not want “to upset the sellers”! I bet he didn’t, he opened three new offices within a year of us purchasing the house that can’t be our home! He must have won the Euromillions lottery! Thank you very much for your comment, Janet, it’s always good to have input from those who have grounded knowledge. Warmest regards, Chrissie


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