Saturday, 20 Apr 2024

Squatters turn couple’s idyllic holiday home into ‘den of iniquity’

A British woman spent eight years locked in a legal battle costing £150,000 in lost rent and fees to get squatters out of her French holiday home. Alison Monnier, 58, said her property was turned into a “den of iniquity” and she and husband, Jean-Paul, 65, received no help from authorities in France.

Under French law, squatters are protected 48 hours after they get inside a building.

Alison and Jean-Paul finally regained one of their small farmhouses in Brittany, but they were faced with a terrible mess after the property was ransacked.

The whole place was strewn with drugs paraphernalia and hundreds of condoms which Alison said may have been used to smuggle drugs.

She told MailOnline: “They turned it into a den of iniquity with weekend parties and a succession of shady visitors coming and going all the time.”

The couple owned two houses on a plot in the French countryside for 30 years and had refurbished both.

For years they lived in one while renting out the other, but left France to move to Mrs Monnier’s home on the Isle of Man.

When the homes in France were left empty, a squatter, who had been in prison for GBH and theft, broke into one.

She said: “Squatters are well protected under French law, but you can’t even get insurance on the property when there are squatters inside.”

Months later, the squatter’s brother moved into the second empty house, which is in a hamlet near the town of Carhaix.

Alison said: “At the time I didn’t really have a lot of money to go through the expensive legal process. We kept popping back and tried to reason with them, but it was no use. They would just be abusive and call me ‘Rosbif’ [roast beef].”

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She explained that in 2015 her mother died, leaving her some money which the couple spent on a lawyer who she said he turned out to be no good.

Last year, they managed to hire another lawyer and a bailiff who helped them get back into one of their houses in November.

The couple are currently waiting for a final court decision over the second property.

Mrs Monnier and her husband, along with their two grown-up daughters, spent a fortnight cleaning up the reclaimed property before builders begin to repair the damage.

She said it was in a “disguting state” and the carnage had even extended out into the garden.

Their once beautiful home featured smashed windows and reduced her to tears, forcing the husband and wife to stay with their daughter.

Then she returned and found the squatters trying to break back into the house, which they’d chained up, so they called the police.

The two brothers from French Martinique have flats of their own, according to Alison, who plans to sue them for the damage.

Both men, now aged in their 30s, were jailed in 2013 for between a year and 21 months for a vicious mugging and assault of a young man and his brother in Lorient, according to local press reports. The two victims suffered 30 cuts and bruises between them, according to MailOnline.

Alison told the same publication it had cost her about €160,000 (£137,581) in unpaid rent and €10,000 (£8,598) in legal fees before they even considered building costs.

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