21 April 2013

French ? Never, Never, Never

Well, Tan,Angie and the kids have moved out. They’ve been renting our next door house for 6 and a half years and it’s the end of an era.

It was back around November time when Tan sold his house in London and we started discussing him buying the house but unfortunately we couldn’t agree on the price and so they gave me notice that they would be moving. They found a house to buy about a mile from where we currently are and they finally moved on March 25th.

In an effort not to appear over keen to replace them with new tenants, I waited until they gave me the keys back and then put details of the house on AngloInfo, our local web site for people who want to buy things, rent things and look for tradesmen.

I was inundated with replies with several people showing interest and quite a few wanting to view. One guy even said he would be flying his wife over from London specifically to see the house – I’d put quite a few pictures of it on the website.

And then a young French couple phoned me. They hadn’t seen the advert on AngloInfo but had heard at the school gates that Tan and Angie were moving and so came round to view on the Saturday, only a few days after Tan and his family had moved out.

Now, I’d always said I would not rent, or even sell to French people. It might sound slightly, or even, overtly zenophobic but I’d heard that French people can be extremely difficult to deal with, indeed, there are numerous stories about their zeal to sue, make things difficult and generally cause trouble if there is the slightest problem, but this couple seemed nice, reasonable, and the fact that Delphine would look amazing in a bikini sunning herself by the pool, had absolutely no influence on my decision and so after a quick tour of the house they said it seemed to meet their expectations and would be in touch.. The following day, the Sunday, they re-appeared and after another tour of the house they said they would take it – it was ideal for their requirements.

I was, of course delighted. To rent the house only a few days after Tan and Angie had moved out was a real bonus and so we shook on the deal. Eric, the husband, then said, ‘real Frenchmen don’t shake hands on a deal, we look each other in the eyes’, and that’s what we did. Eric then requested that I move all the furniture out of the house as he wanted it completely empty. In response I said I would take the house off the market, do a few things to the house and would be pleased to welcome them next door.

Then I had the difficult job of calling prospective viewers and telling them the house had been rented, specifically the Glaswegian guy who had flown his wife in to view it on the Monday. It was not a nice call to make but he understood and was gracious in defeat.

Over the next week or so, I replaced the oven and even fitted a new hot water boiler (that’s another story), moved all the furniture out and renovated both bathrooms and tidied up the garden. The house was looking amazing if I say so myself.
And so in the week I was expecting Eric and Delphine to move in, I got a call from them saying they’d seen another house and had chosen that one and wouldn’t be moving in after all.

If I had been able to reach down the phone and grab them by the throat I would have done. In the end, I simply cut them off and refused to take their calls. I was spitting blood.

Now I know that circumstances change and they might have found a better, cheaper, more appropriate house, but to stand there and request that we look each other in the eyes as we shook on the deal, and then pull out knowing I would now have to re-advertise and had lost a month’s rent was beyond even my widely acknowledged levels of patience.

And so, sadly, my faith in human nature has been restored. I WILL NOT RENT TO FRENCH people. No way!

The lesson was that I should have taken a cheque as deposit but cheques can be easily cancelled and I would not have been in any position to reclaim the money so I am now re-advertising the house in the forlorn hope that the Glaswegian guy will renew his interest.  

C’east la vie and as I’ve said many times before, France would be a lovely place if it wasn’t for the French !

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