He must pay 98,000 euros in water bills after 4 years of squatting his property

This is called a real nightmare! A owner was deprived for 4 years of his 3 apartments and 2 commercial premises, located in the same building in Seine-Saint-Denis (93), because they were squatted. Until then, a classic affair where property rights are violated. But the most aberrant is to come. On March 5, 2021, three years after the owner and his son crossed paths squatters for the first time, the judge finally orders the eviction of the illegal occupants.

The owner, who hopes to see the end of the tunnel, goes to the prefecture to obtain the assistance of the police and have the squatters evicted. But, according to him, he never got an answer. Worse: the 86-year-old man was summoned, three months later, to the police station because of the "nuisancecaused by squatters in the neighborhood. Add to that: two buyers - an investor and a developer - interested in the building who retracted, tired of waiting and finally the insurer Axa who refuses to take charge of the damage "following a squat on an empty building for more than 6 monthswrote the insurer in a letter dated March 24, 2022 that Le Figaro has procured. This certificate cannot bind the insurer outside the clauses and limits of the contract in reference". In other words, the security measures are not met, so the contract is terminated. "It's like the whole system has ganged up on us“, enrages Daniel, the son of the owner, Quoted by Le Parisien-Today-in-France .

" READ ALSO - What to do if a sold dwelling, a priori empty, is squatted?

The owner and his son are not at the end of their troubles. On May 24, 2022, the owner receives, by registered letter that Le Figaro obtained a formal notice from Veolia. The operator of the building's water network is claiming nearly 98,000 euros (!) for unpaid water. An incredible amount for a building whose water bill averaged 290 euros every 3 months. In April 2020, it climbed to 3,760 euros, then to 20,473 euros in October 2020, to 27,796 euros in January 2021 and to almost 30,000 euros in April 2021, according to a quarterly invoice that Le Figaro was able to consult. In the meantime, the bill frequently drops to less extravagant amounts. Is it a leak or faucets intentionally left open by the squatters? Light has not yet been shed on this subject.

Who will pay the water bill?

"It is out of the question that my client pays this amountreacts Me Xavier Bouillot, the owner's lawyer, contacted by Le Figaro. The law provides that it is the beneficiary of the service, therefore the consumer, who must pay (article 93 of the SRU law)”. What seems to confirm another piece of legislation:The billing of sums owed by users is made in the name of the holder of the water subscription, failing that in the name of the owner of the business, failing that in the name of the owner of the building.» (article R2224-19-8 of the general code of local authorities). Problem: The subscription holder has not been identified. So Veolia sent the invoice to the owner. "Veolia is not clear in this story. In December 2016, they told us that no subscriptions were opened. Today they say the opposite in the pressasks Me Bouillot.

" READ ALSO - A landlord who cuts off a squatter's water or electricity runs a big risk

The question then arises: who is going to settle the unpaid water bill? The owner refuses and Veolia is right in its boots. "We're just enforcing the lawaffirms Christian Schmitt, customer manager of Veolia Eau Ile-de-France, contacted by Le Figaro. As soon as the owner owns all the lots, he is necessarily the manager of the building. We know who opened the building's subscription contract in 2016 but we cannot communicate it for GDPR reasons. We keep it available to the owner".

The operator agrees to spread the payment of the 98,000 euros or to reduce the amount. "If the contract holder is in fact a natural person and not an SDC (syndicate of co-owners, editor's note), there will be application of a two-year prescription, representing a reduction of 17,153 euros. Then if a water leak is proven (soil flow), a reduction will be applied representing more than 40% of the sums remaining due“, details Christian Schmitt. Or an invoice which now amounts to just over 48,000 euros. "It's up to the state to take responsibility and pay“, retorts the owner’s lawyer who also claims compensation of 200,000 euros for the refusal to grant the assistance of the police, as provided by law. Contacted by Le Figarothe Ministry of the Interior did not immediately respond to our request.

SEE ALSO - Do squatters have all the rights?

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