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Just Jump On The Bandwagon!

Today, I am fighting the battle of a lifetime with bureaucrats in our local Trésor Public. They want us to pay over 1,300€ water rates in outstanding bills left by the locataires. Madame S vacated our ‘pile’ on 30 September 2012, Monsieur C vacated on 31 December 2013. Well, Monsieur C actually returned to the ‘pile’ for an unspecified period during January this year to clear the last of his possessions, but, it seems he forgot to remove his rubbish from the loft – the rubbish that will fill two transit vans to the roof, the rubbish that we must fund for removal!

I am not a happy bunny, but I am hopping mad.

The bureaucrats are adamant that, as we are the property owners, we must pay the outstanding water bills in full and fight to retrieve our cash from Madame S and Monsieur C! We know we would not get our money back, even if we had that amount in our bank account! But, the bureaucrats refuse to take on the debtors and have chosen to hang the debts on us. They can, and will, put an Order on our property if we don’t pay the locataires’ outstanding water bills. 

So, fair warning to any and all out there who rent out their properties in France – watch your back when your locataire vacates, s/he might just leave a sting in his/her tail!

Tom and I weren’t having a bad week until the letter arrived this morning from the bureaucrats. We were still feeling pretty good after Tom’s most recent appointment with the Limoges Hospital Consultant last Friday. Medical tests and assessments results carried out in March, just before we bowled over to the Auvergne to pet-sit two delightful puss-cats, HRH and Bibi, proved without doubt that the CO poisoning sustained by Tom in 2012, in the Gers, severely damaged his throat, bronchial tubes and lungs. The damage is only minimally reversible – Tom’s oxygen level read 31% in March, it had improved to 33.8% when he was tested on Friday last week, the Consultant is hopeful that this will further improve to 40% within the coming three months. However, he warned us that 40% is the best prognosis he can offer. Accordingly, it has been recommended that Tom’s condition should be given ALD status as soon as possible. We are waiting to hear further. 

For those who are not familiar with the term, ALD is the acronym for Affection de Longue Durée, ie a long term major illness. That status will ensure that Tom receives the care he needs without us having to pay 200€+ every month, the basic amount we currently pay because we have only hospital in-patient health insurance top-up.

The Consultant asked us if we planned to sue the owners of the property where the CO poisoning occurred, due to the chimney not having been swept for goodness knows how many years. We told him we will not sue, the owners genuinely believed they were helping us. In return for them putting a roof over our heads for that very short period, ie no longer than ten weeks, Paul had re-decorated the rooms they requested to be re-decorated – they supplied the materials, he is a qualified, experienced painter and decorator. Paul had also maintained their property grounds throughout the period that we were there, including strimming their grass – a heck of a lot of grass to strim, each cut took two full days to complete! In all, if he had required payment for his work, the facture would have been for an approximate amount of 1,400€.

When we arrived at the property in the Gers, we discovered there were burst water pipes, caused by exceptionally cold weather and inadequate insulation (that’s what the plumber told us). We called out a plumber who repaired the pipes, four pipes in all. We paid the plumber’s repair bill and we told the property owners not to worry about it as we needed the water in order to live there, allbeit for only a few weeks. Stands to reason, we needed the water, they were in the UK and didn’t need the water!

A couple of hours after we received the bureaucrats’ bombshell this morning, Paul received an email from the owners of the property in the Gers, they are demanding 120€ from us towards their electricity bill!

Is there anybody else out there who wants a pound of our flesh? Just jump on the bandwagon, you might as well, it’s a free ride! 

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2014 in World

 

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Taking Responsibility

Taking responsibility is not usually difficult, although it is sometimes time-consuming, and I would think we have all thought at some time or other, ‘I wish I didn’t have to spend my life thinking of things I must do, rather than things I would like to do!’ Ensuring our grandson receives an education that fits his needs is our responsibility, ie the responsibility of the adults in our small family unit. Because our lifestyle does not allow for formal education, that responsibility falls on my shoulders, fairly and squarely. It’s no hardship, he is a gem who soaks up learning like a sponge, and I never really envisaged retiring from teaching, anyway!

So, on Monday 1st October, Tom and I travelled to Aurillac to do what we had to do to ensure grandson’s ‘home education’ could legally continue for yet another year. During our journey through and along the perimeters of the wonderful, lush green craters of long since exploded, and still sleeping, volcanoes, we talked about our next steps to find out if we could continue to seek justice to atone for the vice caché. It seems to us that our (third) avocat and our specialist Cour de Cassation avocat are not interested in making sure we know what’s happening with our Case. In fact, as I commented to Tom, I believe we could all pop our clogs and nobody within the judicial system would be any the wiser or interested!

We decided to call on the legal expertise of an old friend in Aurillac, a French barrister, Maitre C. We were out of luck on the Monday, but Maitre C’s lovely wife asked us to return during the Tuesday afternoon, and we did.

Now, that was a revelation!

It appears that our Case will continue because Napoleon made provision for the disappearance of spouses when the law has not fully run its course. Simply, Madame T must complete the proceedings on her own. If Madame T does not survive the long drawn-out processes, her offspring must take up the slack, followed by her grandchildren if necessary! Does the same apply for the other foot’s boot, ie if Tom and I don’t live long enough to witness the final resolution? Yes.

So, there you go, it really doesn’t do to get on the wrong side of Napoleon’s laws, whether you are perpetrator or victim!

Although Tom was visibly tired, driving takes its toll these days, he wanted us to go for a drink in our village bar-tabac, to celebrate my 63rd birthday. The Bar-Tabac-Presse is only two doors down from our house – moving in the direction that’s away from the Church, of course! As we parked outside the house, a couple of our friends were heading toward the bar-tabac and they joined us. We joined a larger group inside the bar-tabac and updated everybody about the day’s events. One of them reported to us what he had been told by one of our sellers’ sons, ie that if Madame T had passed away, rather than her husband, the family would have offered to settle out of Court. But, as things stand, the matriarch calls the shots!

Can we move back into our house that’s not a home?

No. The hairdresser left too much damage in her rush to remove fixtures and fittings, none of which can be repaired because Napoleon decreed that ‘….it would not be in the public’s best interests for repairs to be carried out on a property at the centre of dispute…’! Some of us take responsibility, some of us don’t.

Were we surprised? What do you think?

 

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Who Stole The Teaspoons?

November 2008. With the double-whammy threat of an Atlantic storm rushing in, and a wild Mistral blowing, we packed up the tent and the car, and we headed for cover. We didn’t have much choice at that time of the year, most camping sites close down by the end of September, even along the Mediterranean coastline. Going inland wasn’t an option, it’s colder inland!

We found a large camping site with static mobile homes and chalets. The entertainment facilities were closed for the winter, but that wasn’t of interest to us, there was free hot water for showers, and a launderette with decent, working machines. We knew we needed to stay under cover for at least a week, so we booked in for nine nights. Another chunk of savings gone, but needs must!

The young French lad who showed us to our chalet was very pleasant, friendly, and he spoke extremely good English. He told us bookings had been poor during the summer, British holiday-makers, particularly, had been very thin on the ground. Recession was obviously beginning to bite, and we told him we were feeling the effects of pound sterling falling against the euro. By that time, we were leaving our euros in our French bank account, to pay legal fees and French taxes, and drawing from our UK bank via ATMs. Although we have travelled extensively around France since 2008, we haven’t left a paper trail, but we have left an impressive ATM trail!

The Atlantic storm blew in, and it blew around us, it had changed course almost at the eleventh hour. The Mistral continued to rage, and another Atlantic storm appeared on the horizon. Throughout the night before we were due to leave the camping site, storm and Mistral fought, the thunder and lightening were spectacular, the rain fell in torrents – and the chalet seams peeled apart like a banana skin leaving the fruit! The beds were drenched in both bedrooms, we stood the mattresses up against internal walls, hung bedding over doors and from clothes hangers, and we mopped virtually all night. Eventually, the storm abated and, just before dawn, we fell asleep on the lounge floor in our sleeping-bags.

Barely three hours later, I went to the site office to collect our deposit, and to explain what had happened during the night, before we got back onto the road. The site manager listened to me with a stony expression before indicating that I was to accompany her back to the chalet. I showed her what we had done to alleviate the damage, she just looked without saying a word. I showed her the split seams, we could see daylight and a tree through one split, she remained silent. Suddenly, she rushed into the kitchen area, yanked open the cutlery drawer and spat out words I will never forget, “I suppose you have stolen the teaspoons. You English always steal the teaspoons.” For, possibly, the first time in my life, I was speechless! Then, I calmly replied, “Madame, we don’t steal teaspoons, we don’t steal anything, our deposit please, now, before I call the Gendarmes.” Madame pulled the crumpled notes from her pocket, threw them at me and hissed, “Go now.” I went!

Later that day, I telephoned our avocat’s office, Monsieur MA asked me if I had our resident locataire’s telephone number as he had received a letter from Monsieur C saying he would like to give evidence for us, against our sellers. I told Monsieur MA that we didn’t have the locataire’s telephone number, and I instructed him to contact Monsieur C in writing and without delay. Monsieur MA agreed that would be best. He added that there would be another facture sent to our house address as the Case was “….more complicated than I thought. More work is needed.” I told Monsieur MA we would be collecting mail from the house the following week, he replied, “No problem, there is no rush. The Tribunal Hearing will not be heard until next month.”

As we headed back towards Nice, I felt as though there was an ominous shadow hanging over us. My feeling was correct.

 

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