It is, I’m afraid, typical to have the odd problem, They should be few and far between. They will arise more often if you treat the ownership and letting of your property too casually.
It is, incidentally, the same in the UK. My neighbour has just gone through the same process. It has taken months and she is £5,000 out of pocket.
How can you avoid problems?
1. Take care when choosing tenants. If taking long term tenants, take references. If taking short term tenants, go with your instincts. If you have any concerns, don’t let them have the property.
2. Think about using a local property manager to vet and meet tenants.
3. Take a security deposit, to the maximum extent allowed by law.
4. Have a proper, legally drafted contract. French law gives different levels of protection depending upon the type of property (furnished, unfurnished etc) and the length of the tenancy.
5. If you have a holiday home, stick to letting to holiday makers and for short periods. Not only do you tend to make more money but they usually need to go home at the end of their stay. If you get the contracts right they also have very little protection if they stay on illegally.
6. AS SOON AS things go wrong, take advice and do something about it! Early intervention is (usually) cheaper and more effective.
7. Remember that, if you’d had your money in the bank, you’d be earning next to nothing on it – so, even with the odd set back, this is probably not a bad investment.
These problems can be sorted out from the UK – but you will have to give a lawyer in France Power of Attorney to deal with things on your behalf.