Rental delapidations law

I live in the UK with my French wife. She has two siblings in France. Her mother lives on the other side of the world. Her mother had a half sister, living in France, who recently died. One of her brothers is ‘dealing’ with the inheritance tax implications, along with a notaire he employed to act as executor. The other members of the family, including my wife, and her mother, have been kept abreast of progress, but haven’t been directly involved.

The half sister who died had been renting an apartment in Paris since 1990. My wife has recently alerted me to a communication from the landlord to the notaire asking for a substantial sum of money for repairs he - the landlord - has made to the apartment after regaining possession. He is asking for fifty percent of the cost of repairs. Having seen the landlords letter, sent to the notaire, It seems extraordinary to me that he, the landlord, should have carried out repairs amounting to €70000, without prior consultation, and expect to be reimbursed for half of this. But then I know nothing of French law!

My wife’s brother had previously told the rest of the family that there was no possibility of the landlord asking for any money for repairs to the apartment as the tenancy had been going on so long. The family assumed he had received legal advice to this effect from the notaire.

My wife is no longer certain this is the case. The family are all on friendly terms but nobody - least of all the brother - seems to have unearthed an actual statement in law that backs up either the landlords claim or his (the brother’s) counter claim. Suggestions from my wife that her brother seek independent advice have met with zero enthusiasm. Quite why the notaire he has employed is not providing this advice is unclear.

I have discovered there are free legal advice centres comparable to British Citizens Advice Bureaux, called maisons de justice et du droit, in France, but as we’re not in France and if the brother won’t visit them I am contemplating contacting a French lawyer in the UK ourselves.

I’m posting this here on the off chance someone may have encountered a similar situation or may know of a lawyer who might be helpful. It’s a long shot, I know.

Neither my wife nor I are at all keen to get involved; but we are concerned that my brother in law might find himself persuaded to act in a way that was not in the family’s best interests. I feel the law must be clear on this issue. Either the estate is liable, or it is not.

Hello Nicholas and welcome to the Forum.

You story sounds complicated and worrying… I’m sure someone will chime in soon with helpful suggestions…

Off the top of my head, I would advise you to take professional legal advice.

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This link gives advice on what is reasonable…it may help… but nothing beats Legal Advice. Presumably the Notaire has a copy of the Lease which was signed back in 1990…

On the face of it… things should be agreed amicably at the end of the Lease … and if it has been a long rental, wear and tear is to be expected and accepted.

Thanks, Stella. That looks very informative;and I will study it in more detail later; but as you say, nothing beats legal advice. I had assumed that the notaire employed by my brother in law as executor of the estate would be simultanousky acting for him, but I wonder now if this is the case. Maybe the executor is required to be impartial?

Either way, it would clearly be best to get a wholly independent, objective professional assessment.

As for the original lease, I assume the notaire has a copy, and that my brother in law has one too … but I don’t think anybody else in the family has seen it! We certainly haven’t.

I’m working out of the Mairie tomorrow… I’ll try and pick someone’s brains while I’m there…

what sort of reparations/work is the Landlord talking about ??

The landlord refers to what he has done as ” travaux de renovation”. He doesn’t use the word ‘reparation’ at all.

It seems to have involved the complete revamping of the apartment, which is now relet.

The work was carried out on the landlord’s sole initiative.

I must admit I’d be suggesting (to the fullest extent possible in French law) that the landlord can va siffler.

Maybe worth asking if there have been any before and after photos of the ‘renovations’ . IMHO the landlord seems to be trying to pull a fast one. Surely he should have consulted the notaire before carrying out any work, it’s unreasonable for the notaire to hand over any money for presumed renovations !
Is there any chance of you having a family get together in France to discuss all the implications face to face ?

When Council Tenants leave… the Council has to bring the property up to the current “normes”… electric, insulation, kitchen, bathroom… all sorts of stuff… and I am wondering if it is this that the Landlord is talking about in his letter and trying to get the Estate to pay part of.

Our Council has always had to bear the full costs every time a property changes Tenants. The only thing that the old-Tenants have had to do… is leave the place clean and tidy… generally this means a quick lick of paint…:zipper_mouth_face:

An existing Tenant can live in a property that is not aux normes, (depending on what the work is)…but the property cannot be let to a New Tenant without doing the necessary… :thinking: and it is the Landlord (Council) who pays… :pensive:

Thanks for the input.

I feel the landlord is trying it on, but without a clear knowledge of the law, it’s difficult to know for certain.

Photos were taken of the apartment after it was emptied of furniture and other effects. They certainly showed a degree of wear and tear, but nothing unusual, to my eye.

I think the issue of ‘les normes’ might well explain the bulk of the expenditure. It was a modest apartment and the sum spent - €70000 - seems absurdly high just to return it to the way it was at the outset of the tenancy.

The notaire hasn’t handed any money over yet but the deceased’s bank account has been blocked by the landlord’s claim and the process of probate is stalled.

A family gathering is unlikely as nobody would want to undermine the brother who has done so much work already. Although it iseems crucial to me that someone should speak to a legal expert ,there is the question of ‘who pays’?

I’ve located the nearest Maisons de Justice et du Droit to family members in France and informed them that consultations and advice are free. Hopefully one of them will pay a visit. I strongly believe that full knowledge of the applicable law is the only way out of the impasse.

Failing that, we might consult a French lawyer in the UK.

Blimey…70k whether in pounds or euros sounds like he totally gutted the flat and started again including rewirimg new kitchen new bathroom new flooring new carpets new tiling etc…you could maybe understand 50% of 7k…but 50% of 70k does sound extreme…??? I’m a million miles away from Paris so my view may not be relevant but I hope you find an amicable solution…x :slight_smile:

I am wondering if perhaps the Notaire (or other Legal Representative) needs to be specifically “hired/engaged” to fight the Landlord’s claim…rather than the Family just presuming it will be dealt with as part and parcel of the Inheritance stuff… or maybe this sort of “claim/dispute” is common during Inheritance…

I have no idea… perhaps someone with some French Legal background can chime in…