Pursued By Syndique for Damages To Building

Hi, we have a small studio in Nice which we rent to tenants. This has been “managed” by a French rental agency. The previous tenant neglected the property to such an extent that the bathroom began leaking into flats below. To make matters worse it was claimed by the agent that the tenant would not allow access into the property. The damage has come to nearly £10,000 and after a lengthy back and forth between our insurers and insurers for the flats below, they have decided that we, personally, are at fault. The Syndique are now sending us very menacing emails and letters demanding full payment of £10,000 in 8 days or legal action. This is pretty scary as we don’t have the funds. If we did pay, can we suggest a payment plan? Also, we believe that the agent should be at least partly, if not fully, responsible for costs. We told them that we were willing to pay for repairs when it was first reported a few years back - but nothing was done. We really don’t know where to start? We would love some legal advice/consultation but are wary of embarking on a costly legal route (we don’t even know any lawyers!), without some initial overview of out situation.

Welcome to the forum.

Seems to me that you need to visit a Notaire, armed with the Contract you signed with the French Rental Agency and all/any other documents concerning the property… plus copies of emails and correspondence about this situation…

and do this without delay, if you’ve only 8 days…

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Not sure what a Notaire will do for them Stella, they wouldn’t handle commercial contracts or litigation, would they? I’d go for some form of citizens advice. I guess the first thing to do is respond, registered letter and all that, contesting the matter.

You do not say where you are and importantly, your level of understanding the French system/language.

Your situation sounds too serious for an armchair debate - as above, you must get legal assistance. You will not do it on your own. Lawyers here are quite approachable and a young lawyer (avoid the fuddy duddy ones…) will tell you what to expect. You are going to be dealing either directly or indirectly with the dreaded insurance system for which you need someone to help.

A Notaire is unable to do all this, but could recommend a buddy of his/her - ask the Notaire who did all the legal stuff with you on the purchase maybe.

Hope it works out


Two suggestions…contact ADIL in Nice, or ANIL

And what juridique cover does your house insurance have?


It’s surprising what help a Notaire can actually give…
I know that I’ve learnt a great deal just by visiting the local Notaires’ Offices and asking the Receptionist how to handle blah blah blah…
Sometimes it’s one of the Partners who comes out and gives me a moment… mostly it’s a message via the Receptionist… either way, I’m pointed in the correct direction…

and the Mairie will often point out the best route to follow…
It’s all about getting the situation addressed without delay…

On the forum… we’re all throwing in our ideas… trying to help…

As for protection juridique, this popped in to my mail box today from BH Assurances Elizabeth Want explaining what it is:

protection juridique.pdf (1.9 MB)

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We’ve got one of those… !!
I saw it work very satisfactorily for friends in difficult circumstances and decided it was a good Assurance to get…

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Help finding English speaking legal counsel in France

Welcome to SF, and I hope you find a good solution.

You need legal advice, that much is clear.

As to liability - it would seem that the previous tenant is the one at fault - though that is scant comfort if they have disappeared into the aether and you are the one that is in the frame.

Not sure whether this would equally apply in France but I see no reason why not. A landlord would generally in most jurisdictions be vicariously liable for the actions of a tenant and would surely insure against the risk…

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Hi. If you are on FB, there is a group called .Strictly Legal France with experts who may be able to advise you.

Thank you everyone for your super helpful suggestions.

Normally the tenant should have assurance risques locatifs.
Damage they cause is normally covered by their tenants insurance not the landord"s insurance.
Did your tenants not have insurance?

This does not sound to me as if it is in the scope of a notaire. Notaires don’t do litigation, their role is to be strictly impartial and it sounds like you need someone to help you fight your corner.

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