We’re not unreasonable people, and we can weigh up pros and cons fairly competently. So, when the Immo told us he had spoken directly with Monsieur C about the situation, and Monsieur C had agreed to let the Immo find him a new rental, we didn’t believe a word of it! Tom and I made an appointment to speak with Monsieur C personally, politeness is expected in France and, after all, courtesy costs nothing. He was charming, spoke excellent English and encouraged me to speak French, and he confirmed he would be happy to move out of the property so that my family and I could settle. Tom and I duly reported back to our family. We relaxed a little, but not entirely.
The sale/purchase proceeded. We had no choice, pulling out of the transaction would have left us with nothing to show for 79 combined years of working, confirmed by the notaire. We had sold our mortgage-free property in the UK, we had to move forward, there was no going back. The air was fraught with bad temper on the day of the final signing, especially when Tom and I immediately realised that one of the sellers, Monsieur T, was definitely non compos mentis. That lovely gentleman obviously had no idea about what was going on and I asked the Immo if the proceedings were legal, given the situation. He assured us that dementia was ‘no legal reason to halt the procedures’. Another Napoleonic law? I have no idea, every time I have asked an avocat, I have received a perfect Gallic Shrug.
We completed in the morning, sort of celebrated in the afternoon, and we cried in the evening.
The notaire couldn’t wait to get us out of her office. The immo couldn’t look us in the eye as he sloped off in the direction of his car. Monsieur T insisted on shaking our hands a dozen times over, his wife shouted at him to get into their car, they drove off without a backward glance.
When we arrived at the house, Monsieur C met us as I pushed open the front door. He laughed as he reminded us about our first meeting – I had thought he was the plumber, brought in by the Immo to carry out a temporary repair to give us a working toilet while we waited for the renovation works to start. Then, without taking a breath, Monsieur C politely requested that we remove our possessions from, “Mon garage.” I thought Tom was going to lift off like a rocket! Tucking my arm through Tom’s arm (to hold him down!) I quietly reminded Monsieur C that he had no formal Rental Contract. He grinned as he told us he did have a formal Rental Contract, precisely as was written on the scrappy piece of paper the notaire had pooh-poohed as being “not important, not legal”. Monsieur C then went on to tell us his Rental Contract was held by his avocat, and he would provide us with a copy.
I telephoned the Immo’s office, no answer, I left a message. I telephoned the Immo’s mobile, no answer, I left a message. I telephoned the notaire, her secretary answered. I briefly outlined what Monsieur C had told us and politely demanded to speak with the notaire immediately. The secretary replied that the notaire had left the office to start her holiday, she would be away for two weeks, I could have the first available appointment time on the Tuesday of the notaire’s return. I made the appointment and enquired if people usually left work for their holidays on a Thursday. The secretary replied that she could not understand what I was saying. That was a first after months of chatting with her on various occasions.
Tom and I spoke with an English-speaking French avocat in Toulouse later that same day. I will call him Monsieur MA in this blog, but he has many names by which I will not call him in this blog!