The woes of a French landlady … & saving kittens

2 kittens eating from little bowls

This week we are preparing to return to our French home and we are so excited…with some misgivings. 

We had some lodgers who decided about a month or so ago not to pay any more rent: readers: be warned if you’re a homeowner in France and thinking of renting it out: French law dictates that no one can be evicted over the winter months and there are tenants out there who like to take advantage of this because there’s nothing a landlord can do about it. So I received an email from my tenants one morning, with half of it in bold and the other half in red capitals telling me that by law they could decide to stop paying rent and they were choosing this lovely option. 

I knew that it could take up to a year, even two or three, to remove squatters so I started looking to see what my rights were.

I couldn’t see any. As a landlord I literally have no rights in France, or that’s what it seems like. 

Now, I’m no criminal, but my indignation and constant reminder of that expression:’ an Englishman’s home is his castle’ caused me to have some really horrible thoughts filled with violent acts… smashing down the front door to get into my own property, trashing my tenants’ names on social media, creating an email with their names.are.squatting.my.home@gmail.com and sending a message to their work colleagues, and so on. But the French law always favours the ‘poor vulnerable;’ tenant against the ‘nasty, money-grabbing, immoral’ landlord so I realised I would probably get into legal trouble.

After spending about a week venting my anger and frustration to anyone who would listen, I finally calmed down and wrote a sensible email back to my tenants, even agreeing with the lady that yes, indeed the law did indeed cover their actions to not pay rent. But I finished with a little sentence saying by the way,  I had absolutely no problem whatsoever facing the consequences of my actions in a court of law and that they had better be out of my house before I get there.  Luckily for me, they left 7 weeks later; my neighbour called me to say they had abandoned the place.

Hooray I first thought until I realised hang on…and yes, the plot thickens…because they had been looking after our cats.

Huh? I hear you thinking. Yes well that’s another story and I’ll try to be brief… my daughter Charlotte and I were at a French after-school club last summer and one of other facilitators was talking to Charlotte. She told my 9-year old that they had some kittens, however they didn’t want them, so they were going to stick them in a bag, tie a knot and drown them in the river. My daughter ran up to me and related this story. 

This was probably the first time ever Charlotte had heard of such a thing happening and it really saddened me. We’ll take the kittens, I said, of course, without really thinking. Two months later, we had to return to England and the kittens were still too young to have their ops so weren’t able to travel with us. My new tenants-to-be already had a cat and were delighted to look after our kittens, RumTum & Luna, for 6 months and get them vaccinated etc. Sorted.  

Back to present day and I realised my tenants had taken the (now) cats with them. My cats have been stolen! No problem, I thought, as we’ve had them microchipped so we’ll be able to track them down. No, said the vet. The microchips works in the case of a random cat walking into the surgery but not as a gps. However the vet was adamant the police would be able to find them as it’s effectively a crime. 

So we have a search on our hands and as soon as we arrive in France we are paying a visit to the local gendarmerie to report a theft. I can’t quite envisage my local police traipsing across France with an address scribbled in a notebook and a pet carrier in the back of the van, but we’ll see. 

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