During the past few weeks I have spent a lot of time writing letters, and translating them to the best of my ability, to the three main governing bodies that are reputed to exercise some form of control over the real estate agents, the solicitors, and the notaires of France, predominantly, in the Cantal Department, for obvious reasons.
Just for the Hell of it, I copied our six years long tale of woe to the Cantal Ombudsman who also determines the facts and solutions when Human Rights appear to have been breached. Well, what the heck, in for a cent…in for a euro!
Between the composing, all verifiable and well documented facts of course, the writing, the translating and researching to ascertain the correct governing bodies and relevant addresses, I have been battling with the return of chronic and, often, acute bouts of asthma! Unfortunately, I have discovered that I am still allergic to birds – just as I was 60+ years ago when the allergy was initially determined by the medical profession in Germany. Actually, I am highly allergic to the powder found in the feathers of birds, a parrot in this case!
There is a wonderful, highly intelligent, very verbal parrot in the household of our good friend who has provided family and me with a home since last summer, between pet/house sits. My allergy is not Tommy’s fault, Bless him, in fact, he is possibly just as sensitive to this Golden Oldie as I am to his feather dust! Yet, he doesn’t complain!
Anyway, onward, the letters were received by each of the four intended recipients. Well, the LRAR envelopes were received, one can’t assume that the envelopes contained anything when they were delivered – not according to the Cour de Cassation Bureau d’Aide, anyway!
To the great surprise of my menfolk and me, we received swift responses from two of the governing bodies at these offices:
Conseil Régional des Notaires d’Auvergne
10 rue Maréchal Foch
Conseil National des Barreaux
French bar Association
22 rue de Londres
The response letter we received concerning our complaints about the notaire (Maitre CB) who administrated our property purchase and the fraudulent sale of our sellers contained empathy, a clearly defined level of shock, plus the undertaking to secure our file and thoroughly investigate the complaints we have laid down before them.
The response letter received from the National French Bar Association contained the information that they would not investigate our complaints about our first and third avocats, but, they signposted us to the correct overseeing body in Toulouse. Fair enough, they even gave us the full postal address. No problem, I copied everything directly to the Regional Conseil that oversees all Toulouse avocats – sent LRAR, of course.
We’re currently pet/house sitting in our favourite mountains in the Auvergne, so, we will find out early next week, when we return to the Haute-Vienne, if FNAIM (insurers/overseeing body for French Immobiliers aka real estate agents) and the Cantal Ombudsman have responded to our complaints.
I am not accepting bets, not yet!
Having saved the best part of this particular blog page until the end of my musings for today, I must first thank my wonderful HIFF colleagues, specifically, Tracey and Pip (ladies first!), for keeping everything Hobos In France together in my absence. The HIF Forum, the Hobos Facebook Group, both of the Hobos Facebook advertising Pages, HIF Twitter Page and the Hobos brand new, just launched Google Group – Tracey and Pip, thank you both from the bottom of my heart, you are Hobo champions and the best friends anybody could ever hope for, truly.
Monsieur C, our remaining tenant, has, at long last, revealed his reason for playing his part in our six years of living as hobos in France. His revelation came in his written response to our formal letter offering him first refusal regarding the purchase of the property that is our house but can never be our home.
That offer of first refusal to existing tenants is standard law in France. It is an absolute must when selling a rented property in this country that remains firmly under the thumb of Napoleon and his centuries old Civil Codes! Whatever we think of the archaic legal system, however much we strive to persuade France that she needs to struggle and scrape herself into the 21st Century, Napoleon retains his grip and there’s little to nothing that we can do about it!
So, be aware, all or any who believe they can purchase a rental property in France, make a fortune – or, merely a living – then sell on when the novelty wears off, or the going gets tough when fortunes or world economy change, or simply because they want to move on. Luck never supercedes law in France and Napoleon’s Civil Codes are the ultimate sky-high solid wall that simply can’t be scaled or toppled!
However, it appears to be a simple matter for a law-breaker to pass on legal responsibility to an unsuspecting property buyer and walk away from the mess that ensues!
That’s what happened to us, as we have learned from Monsieur C in very recent weeks.
In reply to our offer of first refusal regarding the purchase of our property at the 2007 price, with no agency fees and only 50% of the notaire’s fee to pay, Monsieur C had until the end of November to respond, but he responded very quickly with his (seemingly sincere) thanks to us for recognising his tenancy rights. He also congratulated us on ‘knowing, acknowledging and applying French law, unlike Monsieur and Madame T’, aka our fraudulent sellers and his former landlords.
Monsieur C went on to tell us that he was interested in purchasing the property from Monsieur and Madame T in 2007, but he was not offered the opportunity and they sold to us, despite the objections that he apparently lodged with the administrating notaire. Yes, the notaire who we know as Maitre CB! Hence, the forming of the bone of contention that has dominated the lives of my menfolk and me throughout the past six long years.
However, Monsieur C then confirmed in his letter that he might still be interested in purchasing the property – from us. He requested time to “sleep on it”, asked us for details of the notaire we will be using to administrate a sale and requested copies of relevant documentation. By return of post, we sent all requested details and documentation (including the necessary Energy Report etc) to Monsieur C – via LRAR, of course! We also included copies of our letters of complaint sent to the overseeing bodies and the Ombudsman. Why? No stand-alone reason, it just seemed to be the right thing to do at the time – Monsieur C has long complained about his treatment at the hands of our fraudulent sellers and the equally guilty notaire, Immobilier and our first avocat.
En route to the Puy-de-Dome to start our current pet/house sit, we called in to our house that’s not our home in the Cantal – both Departments are in the breathtakingly beautiful and as yet unspoiled Auvergne Region. We spoke with Monsieur C, he was open and friendly – and seemed to be somewhat relieved and happy! He told us he would be in touch about purchasing the property very soon, he would be attending a relevant rendez-vous the following day.
On this aspect, I am taking bets!
I’m thinking along the lines of world recession, France still teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, property prices in the Auvergne in 2007 and now, our lifestyle and our need for a settled home, Monsieur C’s knowledge of our circumstances……………my bet is that Monsieur C will offer us a pittance! He knows all about Napoleon’s Civil Codes, too, and if in doubt, one of his sons is an avocat! He will know that if we refuse his offer, we will not be able to sell at a higher price than he offers without a legal wrangle and clear evidence that his offer is unreasonable!
Bets – any takers? Or, do you think I’m being rather cynical and a tad paranoid?