Man buys Toulouse flat - then told it is uninhabitable few years later

The owner of the €300,000 property had carried out all relevant checks before buying

The building is deemed at risk of collapsing and renovations to prevent this would cost millions. Photo for illustrative purposes only
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A flat owner has told how his €300,000 flat in the centre of Toulouse has been inaccessible for almost four years after the local authorities closed entry to the building due to a risk of collapse.

This is despite him taking precautions when buying and hiring an architect to confirm his renovation plans would be accepted. He also went through over 10 years of minutes from annual general meetings between the co-owners, which did not flag up any issues.

Julien Salat purchased the first-floor flat in an apartment block shared with six others in 2016.

He knew the property, which is around 100 years old, would need renovation work and he planned to do this, reports French news outlet La Dépêche.

He lived in the property for a year before moving to Paris and renting it out. The co-owners then agreed to carry out a risk assessment of the building in 2018 after a series of fatal building collapses in Marseille.

This review flagged serious issues about the structural integrity of the building, caused in part by weak structural elements of surrounding buildings.

In November 2020, the entire building was deemed uninhabitable due to severe structural risks on the ground floor and damage to a wall shared with an adjacent street.

Read more: Hundreds evacuated after building collapses in centre of Toulouse

Owners unable to access building

The mairie ruled nobody could safely enter the building and security and alarm systems were installed to prevent entry, including to the property’s flat owners.

The fees to install the alarm had to be paid for by the property owners as well as ongoing building charges and co-ownership fees.

Despite the alarm system, the building is now being squatted, causing further material damage.

“For four years I've been paying for the experts, the renovations, my loan, the co-ownership fees, the managing agent and the insurance,” said Mr Salat to La Dépêche.

He claims it has cost over €120,000 in additional expenses on top of the €300,000 paid for the property, and he has not received any rental income since November 2020.

Despite taking out insurance over collapsing risk in 2018, the company will not pay out because the building has not actually collapsed, and is only at risk of doing so.

Read more: SEE: Briton’s French chateau extensions demolished as not authorised

Is demolition a solution?

A recent report by a property expert said that renovations to make the building safe again would cost around €2.5 million – prohibitively expensive for the owners.

“The recommendation [of the property expert] is to demolish the building,” said Mr Salat, although the local authorities have not agreed on the matter.

The administrative red tape to demolish a building in the city centre may be long and arduous, taking up to 15 years to be approved, and in that time it is unlikely the monthly charges – and mortgage repayments – will stop for Mr Salat and the other owners.

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