As usual - I am asking for advice from you all!
This is a bit of a long story - please bear with me! I am also very conscious of the fact that I do not want to start naming 'names' - but this is quite an usual situation & I would be really grateful for any advice you can give.
Back in April 2011 we bought a lovely little tiny cottage in a small hamlet in the Mayenne. The small hamlet consisted of 5 properties: The main one being owned by a lovely French family; a large family house (owned by another British family) and a large farmhouse with a gite (owned by a British family returning to the UK) and an old 'bread oven' (requiring refurbishment). Our place was the 'gite' to the large farmhouse. Shortly after we bought the property, the little 'bread oven' was sold to another British family who have since refurbished the property - through the owners of the large farmhouse (who also ran a 'property maintenance business' and still run a French property business). The owners of the large farmhouse sold the farmhouse to another British couple a couple of years ago (Aug 2013 I think) and returned to the UK. So as it stands - we now have the original French owners in the main property; the same British family in the large family house and the large farmhouse plus buildings - has been split into 3 properties and is owned by 3 separate British families.................... are you still following me?
Friends of ours (who lived in France) viewed the property for us and basically told us that it was a very small property (1 room downstairs and 2 beds plus bathroom upstairs) plus a small garden - it required a little TLC but had much character and was perfect for our needs. There was however, a large pine tree very close to the front door that was in the garden to the large farmhouse - however, this would be removed prior to any sale. The fosse also did not conform - but was not polluting. The person we dealt with regarding the purchase of the property was the 'female partner' in the Business and I must say she appeared to be completely professional at all times - she was working in the UK building their business whilst the 'male partner' remained in France running his property maintenance business. Our problems however, started when we were in the Notaire's office and I noticed that the boundary on the sale documents didn't appear to be correct - the person who accompanied the seller (who was translating) - turned to him and said 'I thought you were removing the tree and sorting the access out?'............. alarm bells - this was all then 'hushed up' with promises to 'sort it out etc. Even the 'friendly' notaire - reassured us that this was 'no' problem. In a nutshell - we discovered afterwards that the fosse was 'polluting' (the document shown to our friends who viewed the house said differently) and the tree was eventually removed 18 months later when my husband went to speak to the owner (who had been promising to do so for months and months) told him he was going to move the fence & cut the thing down himself!
We still haven't replaced the fosse but do intend to do so - some of you may recall that I have asked what it should cost? (thanks for your advice) - the reason for this is that our neighbours in the little bread oven were charged just short of 20,000 Euro for a Fosse (by a British supplier) - which still does not have a conformity certificate!...... this was making me feel quite anxious bearing in mind our place cost only 3 times that! However - I am now going off at a tangent..... let me return to my request.......
We remained in contact with the female partner who had dealt with the property sale throughout 2011 and 2012 - she was really helpful & assisted with problems with EDF and the water board - she also contacted the Notaire in May 2012 when I told her that we had never had a bill for taxe d'habitation and taxe fonciere - she advised that it would take time as the properties had been 'split' and everything had to go through the 'land Registry' - she contacted the Notaire and we saw the response to 'do nothing' and 'wait' - and to not chase up anything under any circumstances - this e-mail was verified by a friend who speaks fluent French. The same happened the year after (2013) - then they 'sold up' and returned to the UK (we haven't spoken about this since). Well - we've been waiting and waiting - EDF / Water / Rubbish collection bills are all in our name and everything running smoothly - but we are very conscious that we have not paid taxes & we hate 'owing' money to anybody. Most people we have spoken to have said 'do nothing' but we are really conscious of the fact that it's coming up 4 years now. We paid cash for the house and have all of the documents from the Notaire - we also received a cheque for the remainder of the fees a few months after the sale - but we do not have any 'deeds' as such. We're quite concerned now - What should we do? Who should we contact about this? or do we just wait? Thanks!