I have mentioned this briefly before, but since we’ve moved in we’ve had an ongoing battle with our immobilier and propriétaire over the cleaning of the chimney in the salon. When we viewed the property I specifically asked if both chimneys were functioning and I was told they were and would be cleaned, as per the law for those renting in France, prior to our moving in. After this point each two years it would be for us to arrange this.
On the day I came to collect the keys from the immobilier and go round the house at the beginning of December the fireplace in the front room was still boarded up, which didn’t look promising, but the one in the dining room looked clean. When you have your chimney cleaned you have a certificate as to maintain the cleanliness of your chimney is essential for your chimney and therefore your insurance and safety depends on it.
With hindsight I shouldn’t have accepted the keys without insisting that the certificates were available. As I told you in this post the immobilier had told me that they had been, but I should just wait until she gave them too me to use the fire without them, So When the heating broke down we were left with a freezing cold house and no means of heat.
Although we did get the dining room certificate, the salon wasn’t done and hasn’t been despite persistant requests. It left me with a dilemma. As an outsider there was a real wish not to make waves, but week after week and payment after payment despite assertions that it would happen we didn’t get any further along. Eventually I decided that as this wasn’t just a contractual obligation, but a legal one I kept pushing. I was told week after week it would be done, someone was coming to do it that day, that the chimney sweep had gone on holiday, and the two that infuriated me the most – to go ahead and open up the wood from the blocked fire place and use it (dangerous) and that I could get the work done, but I’d have to pay the bill (despite having paid deposits, negotiating fees, monthly rents and it being the proprietors respondsibility).
Eventually I told the immoblier I wouldn’t pay all the rent, keeping some back which was the equivilant to the quote I’d got to have it done (€90). At first she exclaimed “But that is not legal”, but I replied that neither was not having the work completed before we moved in. I added that I was quite happy for the other party to seek legal advise about the matter, but I wouldn’t be paying and would deliver the bill.
I dropped in the reduced cheque and haven’t heard anything about it since, and today as the spring flowers start to,peep out of the ground outisde I finally had the chimney swept.
In preparation I’d bought some andirons (des chenets in French) from my local brocante. They cost €9 as they were a little rusted, but I thought the faces on them were lovely and a little sphinx like. To clean the rust off I soaked them in white vinegar for about an hour, which is about €0.35 and I got about five of them. Then I could a wire pad and scrubbed the worst of the rust off. To clean and protect them I could some blacking from my local Brico (zebraline), rubbed it one, brushed it with an old toothbrush in the crevices and then buffed off with a cloth. Here’s the before and after…