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