Tenant Not Paying Rent: What Next?

We live in the Aude, near Carcassonne, but we also have a 3-bedroomed stone farmhouse in the Vienne which we had tried to sell in 2007, just as the property market was starting to fall. The prices fell so rapidly at the time, we decided that to rent out the property was our best option. No problem in the early stages.

The first tenant signed a contract, & all was relatively okay for a year or so. Then the young single parent with 3 small children had to leave the house at very short notice, but had paid all due rent up to her departure date.

We were living in the UK at the time, and we just couldn’t get over to the house at short notice, so the great fear of the house lying empty for a long period was a major worry to us.

Our fabulous French neighbour [Jean-Paul] of 4 years standing, and who used to come over to our place for a coffee & a long chat every evening on the dot of 8pm, when we were over on holiday, said that his Spanish girlfriend & her two children could live there for the standard CAF rental of 337,15 euros per month, and in return for the lower rental, he would maintain the house & substantial garden, as we would be doing him a favour too, because having his girlfriend “on tap” was an ideal situation for them both.

The neighbour [J-Paul] whom we had befriended years earlier is a widower, and we had helped to “nurse him” through the mental trauma of the loss of his wife in giving birth to their only child in 2005. The daughter survived.

All was seemingly well, the new tenant gave us all her CAF details for monthly rental payments & she set up direct debits / standing orders or whatever was required to pay the phone, water, electricity bills, and the Taxe d’Habitation payments herself.

This was in May 2010, and ALL these utilities bills HAVE [it appears at this moment in time] BEEN PAID a year down the line…but not a single payment of rental to us!!

We have 'phoned her several times, but to no avail as she [probably on purpose with hindsight] rabbits on at nineteen-to-the-dozen in a Spanish-French pattois, KNOWING I won’t understand her, with my very average French.

We have e-mailled her a dozen times…she ignores them, I have called in to visit her 3 times in the year…and on each occasion she shows me her computer with the 337,15 euros going out of her account monthly. But with me having given her my CMB bank details in full, [and correctly] on these 3 face-to-face visits, I am losing hope of ever seeing the money.

On these three visits I have also called in to talk to J-Paul [the so-called “friend” & voisin] when I have been visiting to ask “Marie” for her rental payments, or at least for her to give me the reason why my account hasn’t been credited. J-Paul gives a gallic shrug as if to say he doesn’t have any answers, or control over her. It would appear he doesn’t!!

In two weeks time I have a few days put aside to “visit” Marie again for a showdown with her.

In March 2011 I asked her to leave the premises in a registered letter [a copy of which was sent to J-Paul at the same time]. Both these letters were signed for, but ABSOLUTELY no other response. She has changed her e-mail address several times in the 12 months since taking up residence, and doesn’t respond to any reasonable requests to discuss the matter. All “normal” mail is ignored, phone calls are impossible due to her cunning breakdown in language, & during the 3 personal visits she smiles offers me a drink, a meal and to stay the night if the driving south to the Aude would be too much for me.

She may be charming to my face, but seemingly cunning too?

I do not want to do something illegal in my efforts to evict, and lose the moral high-ground.

Where do I stand legally? What do I do next? Ask the village maire? Go to the local CAF offices in Poitiers? They too have ignored my letters when I have told the above story with the help of the excellent “Google Translator” site.

I know how stupid & naive I appear, but the trust of a great neighbour & pal, and the fact that of her two dependent children, one is a 20-year old GENDARME, I was taken in by the convenience & immediacy of the “new” tenant a year ago. Regrets? You bet!!

Believe it or not, these are the bare facts, as there is little above I could have left out in giving my side of the story!!

Thank you if you’ve reached this point without falling asleep.

To Finn, I really appreciate the major effort you made to help me with your comprehensive reply to my “Tenant Trouble” blog!

I leave about noon today to try & put your wise words into action, with a visit to a Huissiere de Justice in Loudun, [near the house] today or first thing tomorrow morning.

I will keep you informed of any / no [??] progress when I return to Devon early next week.

Best Wishes,


Re: 3-Bedroomed Farmhouse in St. Clair [86330 Vienne]

Hi Jo, Sorry for the delay in replying to your message. I will be going up to St. Clair next week with a view to “evicting” the rogue tenant. I would dearly love to be able to offer the house with you as the tenant, and will do so if successful. When were you considering the tenancy starting? Is St. Clair suitable, 3 miles from Moncontour and about 15 minutes south west of Loudun. My e-mail address is:- "espley.phillip@orange.fr" and in the UK it is: "phillipespley@sky.com". My phone landline in France is:- 0468 79 43 40, and my mobile is: 07845 893118. In the UK our landline is: 01626-888018, and if my wife answers the phone, her name is Thora [Espley!!]. Keep in touch and keep fingers crossed!!

Thanks, Phil Espley.

I live in the Vienne (Chauvigny) with my blokey and our son at Lycee and we rent our tiny flat with no parking from a nice french landlord.( but he’s a bit slack on repairs.) We are looking for a new place with parking, to rent in a year from now, so if your situation is resolved and you want good local tenants with a current 3 year tenant reference in france, I’m your man…or woman so to speak. good luck with the eviction.

Dear Finn, Thank you VERY MUCH for taking the time & making the effort to give me such a comprehensive answer to the problem. I particularly appreciate the advice NOT to go into MY OWN HOUSE, as the thing we take for granted in the UK are not the same over here.

I will be taking all your advice on board, and particularly the visit to the Maire as being as useless as a chocolate teapot. The local maire is as many others in France, usually under the influence of something or other, so I wouldn’t have looked forward to that visit anyway. Huissier / CAF will be my starting points.

Sorry about the delay in responding to you, but my children flew back to Bristol this afternoon, so I haven’t been back home very long.

Thanks again,


I’d ask at ADIL first and they’ll help you with CAF and what to do about a huissier…

Also get this done asap as there is a rule that you cannot evcit after I think its November due to the weather conditions !!

Thanks Kate,

Most comprehensive and helpful feedback! The small village in the Vienne is called St. Clair and is near Moncontour, with a population of about 300-400, so not sure if it would have a Huissier? Maybe I would need to go to the central commune town? Anyway thanks for all the info. Much appreciated, Phil.

Thank you Jacqui for your help & good advice. Phil

Hi Phil

If you want to retrieve the rent owed and/or get her to leave you must see a Huissier asap - take all documents/correspondence with you. Did the tenant sign any form of contract? Problem is it will take many months to resolve. However this may just jolt her into action.

There is also an organisation called ADIL/ANIL who help landlords and tenants with any problems they may have and they will help you with advice on what options you have. Website is here:


However, we have had a similar problem where a tenant could no longer afford the rent and after lots of broken promises, we talked to the guy and told him we were going to see a Huissier. He was scared by this and we said if you leave now, you owe us nothing - so he left that week-end. He prefered to go rather than go down the Huissier route. We had a new tenant in within the month…

Sometimes it’s better to cut your losses and get them gone and move on. A Huissier costs money (tax deductible though!) and takes time. We know of people who have paid tenants to leave rather than drag it out.

I would also go to see the CAF to find out what they know - if she receives CAF help then the CAF will pay you direct if you ask for this , but maybe you need to go to see the CAF in her area - the ADIL will help you with advice on this.

If the CAF have paid her and she hasn’t paid you then the CAF will go after her for the money and will stop her payments. It’s better for her to come up with a way to pay you what she owes.

In summary, get advice from ADIL and check out the CAF situation. Then if that doesn’t resolve things, get someone who speaks fluent french to call her and get to the bottom of this. If you get nowhere and she has no intention of paying or leaving, then get a Huissier.

Good luck. Let us know how you get on - we know this stuff is very stressful but you will sort this out!



Did you as the landlord receive a form from CAF to fill in for the rental of your property? CAF do not pay the rental money to the client they pay it directly to the landlord to stop this sort of thing from happening. If you have all the CAF details then contact them (face to face if you can) to ask about any rental that has been paid directly to her as she could have been receiving this money fraudulantly.
If yes, then you can confront her with the fact that she could be facing a prison term for doing this and if no then you know that CAF was never claimed and you will have to get the money from her directly and go to see a Huissier.
As with all things in France make sure you have all the papers relating to the property available including all dockets for previous rent received and the rental agreement if you have one!
Good luck

Thank you Jean & Annie for your prompt & helpful responses to my blog earlier this morning! Phil.

A Huissier is the best way and you need to get her out before October, or she will have the right to stay till March.

Feel sorry for you - you weren’t naive at all but trusting in a ‘good’ friend. I would go first to the Mairie and see if they have any advice after that go to see a Huissiere de Justice - they deal with all sorts of little legal issues and helped me out once over a livery yard which was not doing what they said they would and also tucking me up over their charges! Sounds as if you are being taken for a ride! Best of luck.