It’s over!

When last I wrote, we’d just finished the état des lieux and moved out of the apartment in October. So what’s happened since then and now? Everything!

Once we got settled in our new home in Guadeloupe, I wrote a letter to the bank holding our caution bancaire explaining the entire situation. The banker responded that all I needed to do to get our money back was send him the original paperwork. Obviously I was unable to do that, the whole point was that the landlords had the paperwork and weren’t going to turn it in until they’d bilked us out of more money. I went back and forth with the banker about this, and he even called the landlords to try to figure out what was going on. In so many words, they told him they were holding our money hostage until we paid for the damages. The banker explained that they couldn’t do that, to which they basically said tant pis. Despite this, the banker was apparently powerless to actually do anything other than recommend we wait for the landlords’ bill, which they were required to send within 2 months of us moving out.

So we waited, and the bill came, along with a long letter in which the landlords expressed their continued incomprehension of my husband’s “glacial reception which forced us to hastily leave our apartment without completing the pré-état des lieux and obliged us to involve a huissier for the real état des lieux.” They also assured us that they had scrupulously calculated what we owed them in accordance with the huissier‘s report, but they neglected to include a copy of this report. They did however send photocopies of 8 other bills, which included legitimate charges along with nonsense: repainting the door after changing the lock, repainting the entire kitchen (including the ceiling), and half of the huissier‘s fee. Only two kitchen walls were damaged, not the other two and certainly not the ceiling; if the door had to be repainted after changing the lock that’s on the locksmith, not us; and the landlords were responsible for the entire huissier‘s fee. Their total bill was €260, including 8 euros for the photocopies.

Now, we could have just paid this amount, which seems laughably small considering their proclamations of extensive damage and the fact that they were using it to hold €14,400 hostage, but these people are thieves and utter scum. Nonetheless, if we had actually owed them money, we would have paid it, but once we subtracted the bs charges, the total was actually about 20 euros in our favor.

So our next step was to contact the huissier and request a copy of her report. She declined, saying that the landlords had not given her permission to share it with us. When I expressed surprise that we should be expected to pay half of the bill for something we weren’t allowed to see, she didn’t repond. Our friend Robert went to talk to her on our behalf, and she told him that we should contact a huissier in Guadeloupe to file a complaint against the landlords to get our caution back, but the two I spoke to had no idea what I was talking about so I gave up on that idea.

Then I scrutinized the caution bancaire paperwork and found the answer: the landlords had two weeks after the end of the rental agreement to file a claim for unpaid rent; after that, the caution would be automatically refunded. I brought this to the banker’s attention (why he was not already aware of this, I’ll never know) and he agreed to make it happen in February, when the three-year agreement had run its course. (I tried to convince him that the agreement had died in October when we’d moved out and returned the keys, to no avail.)

So then it was just a matter of waiting two more months, then writing to remind him of the expiration of the rental agreement, then sending a letter requesting the closure of the account, then waiting another month for unknown reasons, and then finally, FINALLY getting our money back today, 21 March 2014. It’s over! It’s finished! We got our money back and those thieving landlords can’t do a thing about it. Hallelujah!

(And our old apartment still isn’t rented!)

Topics: France

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