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WIBU re French house?

(31 Posts)
LeFrenchDilemma Sun 30-Nov-14 21:16:18

Name changed for this (I hope it's worked!) and sorry for the long post.

My mum and stepdad moved to France 9 years ago and bought a 3 bed house. Mum invited her parents, my grandparents, (then in their early 70s) to come and live with her so she could look after them in their old age. They agreed. They sold their home in the UK, and used about half the money from the sale to build a very large extension onto my mums house. So it's effectively 2 homes melded into one and joined by a shared kitchen. My mum did not put their names on the deeds of the house (more on that later)

My grandparents used the majority of the rest of the house sale money to travel the world. When they returned they decided they didn't like France after all and moved back to the UK. Leaving my mum and stepdad with a ginormous house to live in.

Many arguments followed, as my grandparents wanted the money they'd put into the house back so they could buy again in UK. So mum put the house on the market about 3 years ago. However the French property market has dipped since she first bought it and the whole 2 house structure is only worth the same as the price she paid when it was a 3 bed. Even if she sold it for the asking price my grandparents couldn't afford to buy a house as they have spent most of the money they had travelling.

Thing is my mum doesn't actually want to move. She was happy in her 3 bed home and will lose money in then house sale (she is mortgage free btw). Also there are repairs they've had to carry out on the house. Mum has paid for them and written down how much they cost and will be deducting half from my grandparents cut when the house sells. She hasn't actaully told them this though (and this is why she hasn't put their names on the deeds in case they want to walk away without 'paying' their half for the repairs). These repairs include stuff done to the original house as well as the extension. She's also paid for the extension to be heated in winter so that pipes don't burst and has put this expense on the list.

Mum is beginning to struggle financially and is using the extension now as a B&B to get extra money (mum doesn't work but her husband does). Again my grandparents don't know this in case they ask for half the income. They are on generous pensions and are currently renting.

So everyone is tense and worried - my grandparents want the house sold so they can atleast reclaim money for the inheritance of all their children and mum doesn't see why she should sell the house as they chose to build and move. WIBU? And is there any way out this dilemma? I'm stuck in the middle at the moment as both parties use me as a sounding board.

MimiSunshine Sun 30-Nov-14 21:19:54

Could your mum and stepdad get a small mortgage to pay back your grandparents and then continue to run a B&B?

Selinasupreme Sun 30-Nov-14 21:20:40

Maybe they can have some of the B&B profits? Tricky.

MelanieCheeks Sun 30-Nov-14 21:23:12

When you use the acronym WIBU do you mean "who is being unreasonable" or "was I being unreasonable?"

At Face value, no one is being unreasonable, but you have an extended family situation who have different wishes. The grandparents have put money into something, and it's fair enough that they get some money back out of it.

RandomMess Sun 30-Nov-14 21:26:00

Did they get the house revalued after the extension was finished before the housing market dip?

LeFrenchDilemma Sun 30-Nov-14 21:28:18

Melanie I mean "who is"

Random not that I'm aware. Based on the cash amounts they put in, if they sold mum would get 3/5ths and GP would get 2/5ths

BackforGood Sun 30-Nov-14 21:29:29

Well, as you are asking this in AIBU - in my opinion, they all were, to invest such huge amounts without thinking it through. Also to invest jointly without getting it sorted out legally in the first place.

NorwegianBirdhouse Sun 30-Nov-14 21:29:47

your Grandparents ABU. How selfish to adjust your mum's house to their liking, changing its value and sell ability, then changing their minds and expecting your mum to undo their spend and give them their money back. It can't be done can it? The extension they built when it suited them cannot just be pulled off and the money refunded so effectively they are turfing your mum out of her happy home.

MidniteScribbler Sun 30-Nov-14 21:31:51

I think your mother has been a bit sneaky. She invited them to live with her, let them pay substantially for a major upgrade to her home, but gave them no rights of ownership. Did she then assume that she would inherit that 'share' of the house and not have to share with her siblings? She's not told them about the repair issues, and not told them about the income she is earning from the extension. She's being pretty cheeky I think. But your grandparents were also pretty silly in not insisting on part ownership of the property. I think they need to sit down and have an actual conversation together, as something like this could lead to a major falling out, not just between your mother and grandparents, but with her siblings as well if they think she is getting a bigger slice of the inheritance than they are.

Could a compromise be that your grandparents get the income from the extensions (less a basic management fee which your mother gets for her services) for the remainder of their life? If it's a reasonable amount, that might in effect pay them back for the extension over the upcoming years, but your mother still gets to keep her house. I think she should write off the cost of the repairs in this case as the property is hers. Going forward, they can then pay for any maintenance on the extension (as that is in effect their investment property).

bellybuttonfairy Sun 30-Nov-14 21:34:02

I think the grandparents will have to come out the worst Im afraid.

They made the decision to sell and build there. Nobody forced them to blow the profits on travelling.

Unfortunately the french housing has made their investment worth nothing at todays value....

Your mum shouldnt be forced out of her home.

The only option would be to spend a little more money to make the split of the house more effective and seperate. The grandparents should pay for this on the premise that legally that side of the house is on their name.

That could then be rented. It is unfair of your mum to be using it as a b and b without give percentage of profit to gp.

RandomMess Sun 30-Nov-14 21:43:23

The thing is you don't know how much or how little the extension added to the value of the property as it was never valued before and after. They could be owed less than 2/5th

It's a mess and they are both being unreasonable.

YackityUnderTheMistletoe Sun 30-Nov-14 21:54:42

Belly - it's not so easy to rent a house out in France. Tenants are very protected and once you have a tenant in, it's very, very difficult to get them out.

parakeet Sun 30-Nov-14 21:55:14

Stay out of it!

Whenever one of them starts talking to you about it, repeat "I'm staying out of it." like a broken record.

wobblyweebles Sun 30-Nov-14 22:02:10

Your mum could give the grandparents the income from the B&B, having deducted a fee for managing it for them and any associated costs.

ConferencePear Sun 30-Nov-14 22:20:23

Your mum could give the grandparents the income from the B&B, having deducted a fee for managing it for them and any associated costs.

There's a problem with this. It sounds to me as op's mother is running a business illegally. In France you have to register your B & B with the local authority and even go on a short course to make sure you are doing it properly. Any income should, of course, be taxed.

LeFrenchDilemma Sun 30-Nov-14 22:42:10

Conference my mum has done all that but just hasn't told my grandparents about it

YouAreBoring Sun 30-Nov-14 22:45:46

What a messy situation. Both your Mum, stepfather and GPs have all been very flakey and silly. Your GPs shouldn't gave built the extension and you Mum and Stepdad shouldn't have allowed them to. It's incredible that they didn't discuss it properly beforehand.

I know nothing about France property law but what about putting something in writing that whenever the house is sold a percentage of the sale goes to your grandparents or, if they gave passed away, to their estate.

This would mean your mother wouldn't have to sell but that your GPs investment wouldn't be 'lost' to your mother and step father.

Does your mother have brothers and sisters?

Your mother does sound as though she is being dishonest by not telling her parents about renting out the extension. It sounds like a very strange thing for a daughter to do. Even if she thinks she should keep the income then it's deceitful to keep it a secret.. confused It sounds as though there may have been a big falling out. Do your GPs not even visit anymore?

wobblyweebles Sun 30-Nov-14 23:44:20

I also think she is being dishonest and probably somewhat illegal.

LaurieFairyCake Sun 30-Nov-14 23:51:51

I think that both your mum and grandparents aren't prepared to take the financial hit - but the reality is the property market in France has crashed and they're both now unable to sell and buy here.

Your mum either has to sell and they'll both be poor - although your mum might still be able to buy somewhere smaller in France as the prices are so low.

Or your grandparents have to suck it up and move back there - it's their mistake. If they've enough money to live in Britain then they might as well write it off, there's too little money left to fight over.

MokunMokun Mon 01-Dec-14 00:01:57

Wow, what a nightmare.

I think your mum should consider proper legal advice. I think it may be complicated because property law may be different in France.

If everything she is doing is above board and legal then I think she would be crazy to sell. I was thinking at the beginning she would be better renting the extra bit out and giving your GPs a portion of the profits so they can rent in the UK which sounds similar to what is happening. But she should really check where she stands legally about the original money. Perhaps they can consider it a loan and she can pay it back in instalments? But they should draw up some kind of contract.

LittleBearPad Mon 01-Dec-14 00:05:37

Can she mortgage the property and buy your GPs out (at current value). The b&b can pay the mortgage?

FelixTitling Mon 01-Dec-14 00:06:24

Your grandparents Abu.

But, your mum shouldn't be totting up repair costs for them if she is also keeping the rent from their part of the house.

My grandparents did a similar thing and my df refused to bow to their new demands when they returned penniless from 2 yrs of travel.

Your GP are being unreasonable. It won't be very accurate but perhaps the extension bit could be analysed to see how much it is adding to the current value of the house, then the GPs could be paid off that amount (as and when mum can afford it NOT by forced house sale).

No way should mum have to sell or remortgage though, she shouldn't have to lose her security because GPs didn't foresee that they might change their minds and make legal arrangements for that eventuality.

GPs going on a jolly and blowing half their money on a trip around the world, and building a granny annexe somewhere they weren't going to live out their days should not impact on mum's security, in a house she wants to live in, or force change to mum's mortgage free situation.

You can make suggestions but I don't think people will be happy with what you say if it goes any way against what they're already thinking they ought to do so I echo the advice about to repeat when asked "I'm staying out of it."

Discopanda Mon 01-Dec-14 10:40:54

Hmmm I think this could have been avoided if your grandparents had tried living in the house for a while before using the rest of their money to travel the world. The property market is constantly changing so you can't always expect to get the same amount that you've paid or more out.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Mon 01-Dec-14 11:24:04

Your mum should buy out your grandparents at today's values. How to calculate that without spending a fortune on professional fees I don't know... They should both get independent legal advice in France but that will be expensive. They should then reach a compromise rather get embroiled in expensive litigation.

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