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I have not posted in a while because we have been very busy moving to France and trying to settle in.

We bought an apartment in Sete and I need advice regarding copropriete. Now I wish we had just rented while looking for a place in the countryside.

The apartment we bought is on the top floor of a small building with only one apartment below and a fisherman on the ground floor who has a garage for his nets. When we first arrived, our neighbors, A woman of 54, her mother and the woman's boyfriend, could not do enough for us. So much that it made me very uncomfortable. They told us how terrible the prior owners were and how terrible the condition of our flat was and that we had paid too much. In so doing they introduced us to some of "their" friends who do renovation.

I was so confused and tired of all the woman's comments that I called an friend in London who put us in contact with a wonderful Frenchman who is now doing the renovation. Briefly, we need new water pipes and we need to ground the electricity. The woman below wants us to use her person for the water pipes but he will not be providing a devis. I refused and now we are not speaking as of Friday.

My contractor and I went to the Notaire to get a copy of the Acte to check about whether anything was written about an area in the hall which has a glass over it. I would like to cover the window over and use it as a closet. Also I want to remove the opening in the granier as it takes up a lot of space. It is a bricked in area of about 2m2. I would of course leave the roof alone. I could find nothing in the documents the prior owners gave us about this window. Above us in our granier is a puit du jour which gives us light in the hallway. Well this silly window in our floor takes up space and does not really provide much light to the flat below. A light would actually work better for them.

When we arrived at the Notaire the secretary said that I had gotten a copy of the Acte the week before. Surprise. Unless I walk in my sleep, it was not me who went there last week for a copy. Of course they did not ask this person who said she was me to sign any paper. The Notaire was very defensive. They gave me a copy and had me sign for it. Is it legal for the Notaire to give a copy of our Acte to anyone else without our permission? How do others deal with problems with their neighbors.

I would truely appreciate any insight into this problem and advice on what I should do.



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Hello Michal ,
Please think carefully before considering changes to your appartment that affect the appartment below, no matter how small.
It might make you more uncomfortable living there with your neighbours and is it really worth rocking the boat when it sounds as if you are moving on afterwards ?
Your time may be best spent finding your country home.
Hope this helps
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Dear Michal,

You don`t say if your neighbours are French or English or other.
If your French is not that good, and they are indeed French, perhaps someone is getting the wrong end of the stick here, particularly if the previous neighbours were difficult. If it were me, I would get a good French speaker, and go back to the Notaire to explain the situation, why you are unhappy , and what your proposals are, and speak to the Notaire not the secretary, after all they should be looking after you equally as well as the vendor. I know it`s a delicate situation for you , and you don`t want to make enemies, especially in a foreign country, but the diplomatic route may be to your benefit in the long run.
I would appear to eat humble pie , buy her a box of chocs , and suss out the situation , " you`re only English after all, so how can you expect to know the right way to go about things ?"

If all this fails , you have lost nothing , in which case , don`t be intimidated by these people , there are wierd neighbours in every country.


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> The Notaire was very
>defensive. They gave me a
>copy and had me sign
>for it. Is it legal
>for the Notaire to give
>a copy of our Acte
>to anyone else without our

Probably not. But in actual fact it is much more likely that the notaire and his/her assistants are just hopelessly incompetent and don't have a clue whether they have actually given a copy to anyone at all. Such incompetence is very common and is the main reason why the simple act of signing a deed of sale takes hours here whilst in other countries it just takes seconds.
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