Advice needed and lessons to share

Hello, I'm so glad I've found this website. I am real francophile but am having lots of problems with my mum's flat in Perpignan and wanted to get some advice and share the lessons I have learnt.

My mum bought the flat in 2002 and we've been renting it out unfurnished to French people ever since. Up to the present tenant we have never really had any problems. In many ways we have been very impressed with the way the French system looks after tenants - government regulated rents etc. However, in about 2010, just before they found us the present tenant, the letting agent asked us if we wanted to take out an insurance against non-payment that was part of a government initiative. It sounded like an excellent idea. However, lesson one - DO YOUR RESEARCH AND LOOK UP EVERYTHING EVEN IF ONLY ON GOOGLE. I know it sounds obvious but I didn't as I was so busy with work in London and it turns out - and please correct me if I'm wrong - that the GRL (garantie des risques locatives) is only for tenants that may have problems paying the rent. Far be it from me to tarnish those on a low income or who are unemployed etc, but it seems that the letting agent didn't really explain the risk. This is particularly given the legal stance in France - lesson two - FRENCH LAW IS STRONGLY ON THE SIDE OF THE TENANT. You can't even evict people from October to March because of the 'treve hivernale' or 'winter grace.'

Anyway, until November 2013 I thought that all was going well with the tenant. I suddenly received an email from the letting agent asking me for the deeds of the property, which had been requested by the bailiff! I managed to keep cool and sent the deeds and the letting agent informed me (at my request) that our tenant had't been paying since November 2011!!! She explained that the CAF has been paying some of the rent and the remainder was being paid by the insurance. However, now the entire rent was being paid by the insurance. I couldn't believe they hadn't informed me before but tried to move on and asked them where in the eviction process we were. They said the insurance company were responsible for the eviction and that they had tried to contact them but had no reply. To cut a long story short, I ended up emailing the insurance company twice, who didn't reply either time. Subsequently, we got an email in January to say the judge in Bordeaux had ordered eviction after the winter grace (31/03/2014). We were relieved but then confused to receive a letter in the post from the court in Bordeaux to say that we and the tenant had failed to show up at court and the case was being nulled!!!

Despite this, the letting agent (after pushing them!) emailed the judge and the eviction has been ordered for the end of the treve.

However, I would like to know the process of getting the flat back and how we can claim for any damage on the insurance, the case arising. I asked the agent but they just say it's the insurance company's responsibility and the insurance company don't reply. Can anyone offer any advice on the situation?

I also want to offer some advice in addition to the two points already outlined:

1. Make sure you rent property out furnished in France as different rules apply, which I gather are more favourable to the landlord.

2. Really choose your letting agent well and ask them about how they screen potential tenants.

3. Seek advice anywhere you can if anything goes wrong and don't assume an agent is doing their best - GET ON TO IT IMMEDIATELY EVEN IF IT INVOLVES CALLING, HIRING A NOTAIRE (i.e. spending money) as it will save you money and stress in the long run.

Seems like basic advice but when you're busy you can tend to go with the flow! Many thanks


Hi Doreen, Sorry for the late reply. I see what you mean. It does seem strange. I know the huissier costs care covered by our insurance but I agree that it's odd the letting agency or the insurance company didn't require prior authorisation. I'm going to seek some legal advice. Thanks for your thoughts - much appreciated. Regards, Jordan.

Hi Doreen

Many thanks for your reply. I'll follow your advice. We won't be renting the property out again so luckily once it's resolved it will be over!

Thanks once again for taking the time to reply.


Hi Martin

Thanks for your reply. I see...I guess the moral of the story is to select tenants very carefully and make sure you get a good agent. Not easy.

Thanks again for taking the time to reply.


Hi Lynn

Many thanks for your reply. The rent money was still transferred to us as normal each month but it was being paid by the insurance. I scanned in the deeds and emailed them to the agent because I saw the email from the huissier in Bordeaux (requesting them), below the agent's email asking me for them. But this was the first I knew of there being an eviction case against the tenant. I will certainly seek legal advice here and in France. Thanks again for taking the time to reply.


I hate I pads…sorry about the spelling

Hello sorry to hear of the trouble you are having,

Firstly how did you not know they had not paid the rent since 2011? Did it not get paid onto your

Account ?

Secondly why did you send the deeds over without getting legal advice in the uk first.

The reason i say this is because that’s the way the judge will see it.

We rented our property out and had one similar client and bear in mind we let it through an agent

Who did nothing for us unfortunately they all seem to be like that over here, she got het

Father to stand as guarantor, which was not worth the paper it was written on, we got nothing

back, my advice would be to see an advocate here n france or one that specialises n French law in the uk, and certainly keep all paper work.

Good luck

Hi. I can tell you that other than the 'winter grace' period, it's exactly the same in the UK.

Your UK tenant hasn't paid for 3 months and you start action against them for unpaid rent.

It WILL take 3 months to get them into Court as the UK Courts are instructed to give tenants who are recently redundant, unemployed or receiving benefits, as much time as possible to make amends before processing.

So. Three months no payment now at least another 3 months. And, SO LONG AS THE TENANT MAKES A GESTURE PAYMENT BEFORE THE COURT HEARING, the Court is then instructed to suspend the hearing and have both parties negotiate.

Now your tenant (who clearly knows how the system works), starts all over again. Three months no rent, 3 months or more to get a hearing and just before the hearing a gesture payment is made.

I know of one landlord who went almost 2 years before getting an actual hearing. And what's worse in this story? He is a Solicitor with specialist housing Law knowledge but got dumped on by a less than scrupulous so called friend working as a letting agent.