Moving in but vendors have not 'moved out'!

Hi All,

Just want to tell a little story about our first property purchase experience in France.

We found the place of our dreams 3 months ago in the Vexin (60) after more than 3 years of renting in Yvelines (78) and signed a compromis on the spot, with a target date of 20th August for the Acte. We were assured at the time by the immobilier that the holiday date would not pose any problem...

The property is an old site with 3 houses which has been in the same family since the 1870s. Since the death of the last owner in March (a man in his 90s) his son and daughter in law decided to sell the property. We bought 2 of the houses and all the land except for a courtyard which will remain in communal access and for car parking. The 3rd house will stay in the family and belong to the couple in their 70s and their adult son with learning difficulties as a weekend home.

During the next 2.5 months, the only communication we had from the Notaire was to request our identity documents which we duly sent across. Again, we were reassured that this was normal and would only be contacted again for the date of the Acte. We were then contacted by the vendors about 3 weeks before the target date to advise us that they could make a significant tax saving if we delayed signature of the Acte until after 1st September. We were happy to oblige but still had to move before the end of August, as we had had to give notice on our lease.

So it was agreed that the vendors would give us free loan of the house until we signed on the next target date of 2nd September. This date was agreed verbally with the Notaire's office before we headed off on holiday on 1st August (but remaining contactable). At a last minute meeting at the immobiliers in order to agree some technical servitudes (gas, electric etc). the vendors asked for free use of all the land as a supplemental servitude. Whilst we have all been getting along well - dinners at each others houses etc. - we had to turn down this request for our future privacy and the quiet enjoyment of our property.

We have repeatedly requested over the last 3 weeks that the Notaire confirm the new target signature date but to date, we have received nothing. Is this really normal that a target sale date set out in a compromis should come and go with no notification?

So last Tuesday and Wednesday we turned up at the site with our lorries full of stuff (3 of them!) to move in as agreed with the vendors and counter-signed a letter setting out the basic terms. However, the vendors have done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to clear the property out during the last 3 months. Everything belonging to the previous owner remains in place down to his false teeth, hemorrhoid cream and gold watch... Basically 90 years of life possessions and the man threw nothing away. The vendors claim that they were not 'capable' of clearing out the properties.

We have had little choice but to occupy the site as it is and fit our stuff around theirs as best we could. We have spent the last week transferring furniture, clothing and all other personal effects to 2 large rooms, throwing away large quantities of rubbish and cleaning up the filthy condition of the place. In total, they have only spent 3 hours on the site to assist us.

Phew....well done if you are still with me here. If we had signed the Acte, clearly I would expect to have some legal recourse because we have not been granted vacant possesion of the properties. But, since we are in this inbetween period (with still no communication from the Notaire for a supposed signature date next Monday) it is hard to know how to proceed. I would involve the Notaire if I thought that we would get any response...

Some of my colleagues are suggesting that we keep anything of value as compensation at least until such time as the Acte is finally signed and we hope that the properties will be clear at that point. I do not feel right hiding away someone else's gold and other valuables even though his family were not concerned enough to remove them for safe keeping.

Would be glad for any advice or opinions that you all may care to give!!

Thanks in advance,