Until our second avocat, Julia, received our resident locataire’s Attestation (sworn Statement), she seriously doubted we had sufficient hard evidence to win our Appeal. One of our witnesses, Madame B, had responded to Julia’s request for an Attestation with a letter addressed to Tom and me. In the letter, Madame B emphatically refused to give evidence for us, and she concluded by writing that she would consider any further contact from us or our avocat, to be harassment.
Who is Madame B? Madame B is a retired businesswoman who moved into Champagnac during the same month that we completed our property purchase in the village. She is a French national who had spent some 30 years living in the UK with her British husband, they were divorced and she moved back to France to be near her elderly mother. One side of Madame B’s family originated from Russia, the other side from the Champagnac commune. Madame B speaks fluent English as well as her mother tongue, also Russian. When she heard about our immediate concerns, in the village Bar/Café-Tabac-Presse during the evening of the day we had completed our purchase and had discovered the deception, she immediately offered to accompany us to the notaire’s office to translate for us, when the notaire returned from her holiday. Madame B did accompany us to the notaire’s office, and she translated for us. When the notaire telephoned our sellers, putting the telephone in loudspeaker mode to speak with seller, Madame T, and asked her if she or her husband had given Monsieur C a rental Contract, the response was, “Non.” The notaire asked our seller the same question twice, the response was emphatically, “Non”, both times. The notaire then asked Madame T if she or her husband had rented the garage to Monsieur C, the response was shouted, “Non, he is a liar!”. The notaire thanked Madame T, disconnected the call, looked at Tom and me and said she could not help us, but she would “speak with the sellers and persuade them to offer” us “some compensation” for our “inconvenience”. The notaire also advised us to “sue the Immobilier”.
Madame B gave her contact details to us and urged us to pass them to our avocat, We followed through and Monsieur MA said he would contact Madame B and request her Attestation. He had never contacted her. I asked Julia if Madame B could be subpoenaed, or a French equivalent. She shook her head and told us Madame B would probably just say she could not remember, it was two years ago.
Monsieur MA had never contacted the resident locataire, Monsieur C, either! Julia contacted him by post and he replied immediately, telling her he had been waiting for our avocat to contact him since July 2007. Within days of making contact with Monsieur C, Julia telephoned us to say she had received a wonderful Attestation from Monsieur C, via his avocat, plus documentation that included copy of his Rental Contract. The Rental Contract covered Monsieur C’s apartment, sole use of ‘Mon Garage’, sole use of one of the three cellars, sole use of a rear courtyard outbuilding, and sole use of a measured, designated section of the loft. All documents had been endorsed by our sellers, ie Madame T. Included with the documents was a copy of Monsieur C’s Contents Insurance, and copies of every Contents Insurance Policy that he had renewed each year during his tenancy. There was also copy of a letter from the insurance company, it confirmed copies of Monsieur C’s annual contents insurance renewals had been sent to Madame T each January during his long period of tenancy, until 2008 when their client had informed them of the property change of ownership.
Julia told us that was the evidence we needed to prove our Case against our sellers, it was conclusive beyond all doubt. That evidence, together with our pre-Sale Contract, signed by both parties, and which stated that we had sole use and enjoyment of the property, was more than sufficient to prove the sale was fraudulent, in French law and terminology, a vice caché.
That’s when we dared to start hoping we were seeing light at the end of that long, dark tunnel. How very wrong we were!