From the Vault
Viager With A View Part VI
“Viager with a View” — the ongoing ‘saga’ of the apartment destined to be called “La Paris Plage” — a “viager” that I purchased in September of 2007. You may want to read Parts I, II, III, IV and V before you read this chapter.In the last chapter (Part V), I had just sent off an offer letter to the nephew of Monsieur N. (the “viager”) ‘splitting the difference’ — an offer of about 700€ per square meter to purchase the rights of usage from him.
Before long, I had a phone call and a positive response of acceptance! And on May 5th, I received a letter from his Notaire to arrange for the transfer of the rights of usage as quickly as possible. I was thrilled! And couldn’t wait to learn how much money should be transferred to the Notaire’s escrow account (the offer plus transfer taxes and fees) and when a signing could take place.
Nothing has gone smoothly so far, so why should I think it would go smoothly now? Still, I had not seen the “chambre de bonne,” nor the “débarras” nor the two caves, as we never could find keys to these. Monsieur de L. (the “Syndic”), upon news of the acceptance, gave me a set of keys to the apartment itself, but no matter how thorough our search in the apartment, we could never come up with keys to the other rooms.
The Notaire told me the signing could go directly to the “Acte de Vente” bypassing the need to have a “Promesse de Vente,” but not without having the “diagnostics” of the lead, termites, asbestos and measuring the official size of each room. While I was willing to forego the diagnostics, the Notaire said that was impossible, as the certification was more a protection for the seller so that later I could not dispute anything. It’s still tough to get my head around that idea…but it seems the logic must be very French indeed!
Nonetheless, I have requested that Monsieur N. give me permission to have a locksmith open the doors, but he refuses. His plan is to remove all his uncle’s belongings on July 9th and until then he does not want me to have access.
What he does not know is that it has very much been accessed! Not only is the Syndic having work done to the exterior wall of the terrace, but I have had contractors come to review the apartment to provide estimates for renovation, all unknowing that Monsieur N. would object!
Monsieur de L. asked me to come see the replastering of the exterior wall and have my own workers come to organize their part of the work to install electric plugs, lighting, a wood slat floor and by my request, air conditioning. During that visit, we stumbled into a neighbor, Madame d’A., who had a real revelation for me.
As it turns out, Madame d’A. and her husband, purchased a part of the mezzanine of the viager (a “cagibi”) from the copropriété a while back (2001)! Imagine my surprise? They also own a chambre de bonne on the 5th floor along with this cagibi that for the moment is accessible from a door on the 5th floor that is directly above mine — the one I still haven’t seen!
Immediately I thought of my friend Al Stewart, whose sleeping loft actually belongs to a neighbor, but was ‘stolen’ by the previous owner, and over which he’s been in dispute for a couple of years!
It’s now become extremely complicated, so let me see if I can explain this tangled web in clear terms:
In 2001, Monsieur and Madame d’A. who live in the same “bâtiment” (building) agreed to pay the copropriété 10,000 francs to purchase the “l’ensemble cagibi-WC commun” on the 5th floor of stairwell “A” and the copropriété sanctioned the purchased.
Unfortunately, no actual “Acte de Vente” (legal sale) ever took place, yet according to Monsieur and Madame d’A. the amount was paid in full to the copropriété. Their understanding of what the space entailed is unclear, as it could have meant the entire space, which would include my mezzanine! Their only real goal was to have the toilet evacuation that exists in one corner of this space to accommodate the chambre de bonne they own on the same floor, but on the other side of the stairwell.
The mezzanine/cagibi space is actually divided into two parts. One small part houses the toilet and has access by way of a door on the 5th floor. They have their belongings in it. The second part is the mezzanine open to my apartment from the 4th floor and is currently filled with belongings of the viager.
M. de L. found a new plan of the building among his stacks of building documents which indicates these two parts. This was drawn after the 2001 meeting, so he believes strongly that I have clear rights to the mezzanine, but only the part that is currently open to the apartment.
Another relatively small issue arising from these discoveries is that according to my original Acte de Vente, I would have use of the public toilet on the 4th floor, but according to M. de L., it was purchased by Monsieur L. in 2001 also!
The problems are as tangled as a ball of yarn. Before I can sign the final Acte de Vente we must know exactly what parts of the apartment to which I will have rights. In the process of all this, I have indicated to Monsieur and Madame d’A., that I would be willing to buy their cagibi on the 5th floor that completes the mezzanine for 1,500 euros — about 10,000 francs, the same price they paid in 2001. But of course, if they don’t actually own it(?!), then the transfer would be direct from the copropriété, although the payment would go to them…based on having the proof they paid for it in 2001!…which we don’t yet have!
Surveyors are coming on July 10th to do the diagnostics and I will ask them to also measure the mezzanine, the débarras and both chambres de bonnes so that we will know the exact sizes of all the spaces in question. This will be the first time for me to have actually seen all parts of the property I purchased two years ago.
While all this transpires, my Notaire is busy gathering all the documents to sort out this mess with the hopes of a final signing to take place before going on vacation July 26th.
Is that optimistic? Will it ever really be mine?
Keep your fingers crossed…and I’ll keep you posted on the ongoing saga of “The Viager with a View” destined to be the luxurious “La Paris Plage.”