Squatters in my home

I lived in France for 4 years - i bought a small “maison de ville” and then moved back to the states. I kept the home thinking/hoping I would be back some time. Well I did allow a french friend to talk me into renting to a woman who after one year decided to move out, not before she gave the keys to her ex-husband who has lived there for 2 years - not paying (I would call him a squatter). I hired a lawyer who is working on getting this guy out - but it does not look good. He can’t be called a squatter since the divorce did not go thru until after he moved in. I never rented to him only to her, but the law says he has a right to be there since he was still her husband!!!

It seems I am just throwing money at the place so he has a place to live. I continue to pay the mortgage but have no right to stay there during my visits to france (twice a year).

Any suggestions? Should I just walk away from the place? i have heard horror stories from some friends that their parents (who are French) had the same problem and it took 8 years to get the people out. And after that the home was destroyed!

Unfortunately you can’t just walk away because as the legal owner you will continue to be responsible for paying the property taxes.

Who’s paying the taxe d’habitation?

Did you have a proper signed rental contract with the original tenant?

Sounds to me like your “lawyer” (notaire? avocat?) is not putting any effort into doing what he has been hired to do and is fobbing you off. If the husband has no valid rental agreement with you he has no right to be there. There are procedures to be followed, it can take a while (hopefully less than 8 years) and you have to get the timing right because you can’t evict tenants during winter, but eventually he can be made to leave. Get a good huissier de justice on the job.

1 Like

thanks Anna - I did have a rental agreement with the “wife”. It did go to court and the judgement was he had to leave. The huissier has not gotten him out and we are at september 1 now. If it does not happen before November 1 - I am stuck with him for another 6 months. So I do believe “the steps” were followed, but no one appears to follow the “law”. The judgement was in my favor - yet the huissier doesn’t do much it appears. It’s a small village (to me ) so I’m wondering if they all know each other. When I started the process - before I got the advocat - I called a huissier from another village and she told me I needed to use the one in Apt (the village). The reason I called the other huissier was because the one in Apt was not responding to me. I don’t think my lawyer is having much luck either. Maybe I pay all the money again and start with a new huissier. Ahhh!!!

Righto… the Judgement went against him. When was this ?

Did the Huissier then issue him with a notice to quit and if so with what date?

1 Like

I’m confused now.

But basically as long as the correct procedures are being followed, eventually he will be evicted. It takes time to enforce the law because wily tenants know all kinds of tricks but all you can do is keep playing the game until you win, persistence will triumph in the end. And then you can crack open the champagne. And start redecorating and getting your home back.

1 Like

Just checked how these things can run… at our local Mairie. I seemed to remember there was a similar problem a few years back with a council-house property. ADIL/ ANIL were used to negotiate…and the matter was finally sorted. Mind you, the Mairie did not know, right up to the last minute, whether or not the family would actually move out on the date set…

but the good news is… it did not take 8 years… although the date for leaving was delayed slightly due to the “winter rules”.

In your case… after Judgement, you presumably instructed your Huissier to issue the necessary eviction notice (or whatever the terminology) with a leaving-date set. The Huissier (if so instructed) would follow this through to ensure that the property was indeed vacated.

It is clear that we do not have all the details of your case.

Best of luck.

Any chance you can take a visit to France before November and start packing him up and putting his stuff on the curb? You will have paperwork in your favour, no?

I wish! This is what I learned this morning from my lawyer:
the huissier made a request to the prefet on the 25th of August to allow the gendarmes to expel him by force. My lawyer will have to call next week to find out what happened exactly between huissier and squatter but either he wasn’t there or he refused to leave.It is now in the hands of the gendarmes who are making an investigation and the préfet will then decide if he allows them to intervene or not.If the préfet refuses to allow the gendarmes to intervene (i.e. because he has children staying in the place), we can file a complaint in front of the administrative court in order to obtain damages for the unpaid rent. These will be paid by the French State until the police or the gendarmerie should be able to expel him.The worst case scenario would be that the préfet authorize the gendarmes to expel him by force but they fail to do so before the 1st of November. It is however unlikely (fingers crossed). If it happens, we will try to see if there is a way to obtain damages on other grounds.
Now I sit and wait…

Yes - I just posted what I found out from my lawyer - so it does take time, but I think time means “years”. It will probably be more than one bottle of champagne when it happens!

1 Like

Generally speaking… with the law on their side… the Gendarmes normally sort things out…:wink:

Thanks Stella - I am truly hoping for that.

Hello Janice - I believe the guy doesn’t work (my lawyer looked into that). I also thought going after the ex wife would be something - we’ll see.

Thanks again.

If the gendarmes can’t get him out…a) stop paying electricity and water bills (assuming you are) …b) send in the heavy gang…

The legal mechanism is that, within 48 hours, squatters can be evicted out-of-hand. Just put them out.

However, that is not your case. So, things get complicated.

I am not about to translate the text, but here is a lengthy explanation in French of what you can do: Engager une procédure judiciaire.

You will need a lawyer, and (perhaps) an English-speaking one. For a list of English-speaking lawyers, go here: France - List of lawyers

1 Like

Thank you Tony - I do have a lawyer - and I guess the process is as expected. I am surprised/dismayed/disappointed that it appears the law is written more for the “squatters” as after the 48 hours I had very little rights. The locks were changed, etc. I had/still have no access to the place. And the people that do this know the laws quite well as they drag it out to Nov. 1 so that the process starts again!!! But my lawyer is on top of it and she is proceeding. Thank you for your feedback.

Kim, have you stopped paying the utility bills? Are you able to instruct the Companies to stop the supply?

They were able to get the utility bills in their name without a contract. They changed the locks, etc. But my lawyer is still working on it. The gendarmes have been notified…

I’ve been through this twice.

The Prefet is a political appointment made directly by the president.

If he is left wing he may never instruct the gendarmes to evict.

If the husband is employed, he will become the liability of the state - another reason not to act.

Actually I think the husband is not employed. But I totally agree with you. That is what scares/depresses me. I am paying my mortgage so he can live there.

From Expatica (here): Differences between furnished and unfurnished > French properties

If you are contemplating renting an unfurnished or furnished property in France, tenants typically have greater protection when renting an unfurnished (vide) property as their main residence.

A standard contract for unfurnished (vide) properties has a minimum of three years but the tenant can easily give notice within this timeframe, although the landlord cannot except in exceptional circumstances. Furnished properties only have a standard minimum contract term of one year. Landlords in the past sometimes tried to pass off unfurnished properties as furnished ones to benefit from the shorter contract, although the government recently enacted a law on what constitutes a ‘furnished’ apartment to avoid this.

The government’s legal definition of what qualifies as furnished (meublée) dictates that the property must have bedding, stove, oven or microwave oven, fridge and freezer, crockery, kitchen utensils, tables and seats, storage shelves, lighting and housekeeping equipment. Be sure to check when viewing whether the property is marketed as furnished or unfurnished and which essentials will remain in the property.

An ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure: Always ask to see a renter’s justification of revenue, and check with the employer if still employed …

1 Like