My landlord dies & the heirs refuse succession - What do I do?

I live in a house that has been rejected by the heirs and needs repair. I stopped paying rent years ago. The tax foncieres is unpaid as well but statements still arrive. As I read the law it takes 30 years to get title, this is a bit nuts. Don’t advise me to move out because I’m too old & too settled in with everything I own and I love it here. If I spend time and money for repairs can someone come along & boot me out one day? The heirs do have a baby who could grow up and accept the succession - what do I do?

What to do?
Consult an avocat is my initial reaction.
The land we purchased to build our home was similarly rejected by the heirs nearly 40 years ago. 10+ years ago, (so ± 30 years ago as per your research) in order to recover the monies outstanding to the fisc and the commune (who had to make certain parts adjacent to the public rights of way safe from falling masonry, tiles etc) they auctioned the land (the buildings by then uninhabitable) and got very little money for it. Indeed, there was only one bid of 10k€ for the whole which comprised the ruins on a little over 1½ hectares of land and a couple of wooded areas.
So, the question to be examined with an avocat is whether this process could be short circuited by making an early offer to secure the title to the property in order to “pay off” the outstanding debt as the heirs have seemingly abandoned their title (which AFAIK is quite within their rights to do).
The other alternative to consider is whether the commune have a duty to maintain the property on the basis they are destined to wait for repayment until the time passes when they can recover their monies.
Just to add in answer to your specific question

If I spend time and money for repairs can someone come along & boot me out one day?

I think it very likely and any money you spend - like the fisc and the commune - will stand in line for recovery from the proceeds of any sale.

Talk to a notaire.


Why do people refuse succession? if a property is, in effect, in negative equity due to outstanding debts?

Our village had a lazy notaire, near his retirement he could not be bothered with small successions and told people that it was not worth it so there are several unowned properties here. I know one where the bank statements piled up inside the door show a small fortune & the old guy died without even a day in the hospital.
I read all I can find on the subject & don’t have a solution.

One chap died after years in an institution/hospital/whatever. His debts to the State mounted up year on year and when he died his heirs came to view his house which had been left to rot.

They decided that his debts outweighed the value of the property and that the State was welcome to it.

The property was subsequently sold at Auction and presumably the small sum raised went to the State…

I might try getting the building on my other side condemned as a public hazard because its beginning to fall in on itself so kids, vandals or squatters could enter & get hurt. Not to mention the shutters crashing into the street.
I’ll ask an avocat about my options here, sounds like keeping repair cost records is a good idea though I’m not a contractor.

Do you know about how long they waited before they made the sale?

In the case of the land we bought, the old owner was a bit of a “tinker” and never paid for anything.
According to local folk-law there were court fines , unpaid tax, unpaid foncieres and the list went on. He was well known - allegedly - for his “home-brews” which he sold locally quite openly (the reason for the fines?).
All in all, it was quite a heavy burden and these would have to be settled before title could pass.
I guess that was a very commanding reason not to take the succession in a generally poor farming region where there were many properties left unclaimed after the war.

I can’t remember exactly when the property sold, one year max I would reckon.

I think heirs have to officially sign-away the inheritance if they are not prepared to take on the debts - all done through the Notaire… and the State takes on the inheritance, for what they can get… :thinking:

Yes, the heirs can take a risk and get it all right away, including the debt risk or take the safe route and wait the time it takes to sort everything out & see if they get anything. The bigger the estate the more the notaire gets but they get nothing for haggling with a bank over the nonsense the banks try on sometimes.
If they refuse its one piece of paper & the property can wait 30 years for the next heir in line before automatically going to the state.

Not worried about a sale, its the young heirs 15 years from now and I would be an 80 year old squatter then.

Just remembered
!Its true bits of land/ buildings just get abandoned and forgotten, that would NEVER happen in UK, I think.
To establish ownership if it matters to you, and get everything neatly filed can save a lot.
No one even knew who owned the island that is my garden, now. It was just a stony patch covered in vast, mostly nearly dead, trees, that nobody owned or cared about.
After a couple of near misses, one giant just toppled about three feet clear of my shed/studio, I began to clear it all for my own safety’s sake. Tree fellers, for big trees, don’t work for peanuts, the cost began to run into hundreds …promised possible thousands.
So I got a French/Brit lawyer to find out what could be done, at least recoup my tree felling costs if nuthin else.
The land was owned by a mining company, from hundreds? A long time, of years ago. The living reps. had zero interest in the land or me or the trees dropping like skittles. Not wanting tree felling costs, they were happy to sell it to me. For one euro. A wonderful buy. Very beautiful, tiny bit of wild terrain.

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But aren’t you a squatter seeing you stopped paying rent years ago? In your shoes I think I might just keep a low profile… Or you might find the whole property gets bought by the Mairie and demolished.

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I get along with the marie & they already said as far as they are concerned I could have it for 1 euro but I needed to figure out the rest.

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You are so lucky to have found a property with a company that own’s it. Ownerless property is more complicated and I think one needs certain reasons and I think it depends a lot on the marie and the departmental board that approves or not, the sales of properties owned by maries.

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Make them an offer you can afford… presumably you will have to pay the Notaire’s fees so factor that into the equation.

I can think I can afford a euro but figuring out the rest is my job will & probably take a damn good avocat. I keep the place in good repair & its no hazard nor will it become one as long as I remain. The threat of me leaving is the only hazard & if I go it falls to hazardous ruins. Pretty thin argument, no? Tax collection seems very low on their lists too.

Have the Mairie suggested what they mean by “the rest” ??

It is important that both you and the Mairie are clearly understanding one another. Until you do that, all the talk in the world is pretty useless in my opinion.

As for

If you have no/little money, I am at a loss to understand how you will be able to afford an Avocat.

Surely better to get the Mairie to help (they do it for free).