France: Anti-squat law, the parliament triples the penalties and introduces a denunciation measure

The assembly triples the penalties for untitled occupiers and allows any person to refer the matter to the prefect about an expeditious eviction.

Droit au Logement denounces the tripling of penalties against untitled occupiers, voted on Friday morning in the Assembly, at the initiative of the rapporteur Kasbarian, with no other opposition than that of a deputy FI (E. Coquerel).
This punitive measure satisfies security obsessed people, such as deputy E. Cioti, who declares that he wants “squatters to sleep in prison”. The homeless who settle in a vacant apartment are thus labeled criminals, because the street brings them nothing but suffering and premature death.
These MPs, like all those who demand anti-squat measures, do not care about the tenants who are illegally evicted, while no prosecution is initiated, except in exceptional cases.
They are however much more numerous than the very rare “occupants of other people’s homes” that we have been receiving since the end of August.

This punitive measure pursues another goal: by raising the sentence to three years, the public prosecutor’s office can thus bring the occupants to an immediate court appearance, after having taken them into custody. It thus proceeded to expel them without involving the Prefect.

Another alarming amendment, again at the initiative of the Kasbarian rapporteur, was adopted, again introducing an intentional and worrisome vagueness, since it authorizes “any person acting in his interest and on his behalf” – that of the person for whom the premises constitute his domicile – to request the Prefect to request the administrative eviction of occupants, without further clarification. In other words, anyone may ask the Prefect for administrative eviction: a neighbor or a person, whether well or ill intentioned, an anti-squat vigilante, the mayor, a distant heir, a person or company that could benefit from it.
The reporter claims that it is a question of allowing “the beneficiary, the occupant in good faith, or the persons who occupy the dwelling by virtue of a loan for use or the persons who occupy an official dwelling”, to seize the Prefect with a view to an eviction without judgment, but the vagueness of the wording again leaves room for all abuses.

The Government’s amendment, n°1045, adopted on Wednesday evening, limited the risks of abuse by removing the intentionally vague term of “occasional” residence introduced by an amendment of Kasbarian. It allowed for the expulsion without judgment of any untitled occupant of a vacant dwelling or premises and even of undeveloped land.
The administrative eviction provided for in article 38 of the DALO thus remains within the perimeter of someone else’s home, but the Government’s amendment, by adding “whether or not it is his principal residence”, runs the risk of an excessive and timely prefectoral interpretation.

Minister Wargon undertook during the debates on Wednesday evening (debates on amendment 331) to issue an implementation defining the scope of Article 38, in which she included the principal residence, the second home, the pied-à-terre for professional use, but also, and this is more surprising, the furnished tourist accommodation (Airbnb type), because a furnished tourist accommodation does not constitute that one knows the residence of another, except if it is the holidaymaker’s. The Ministry will therefore have to clarify this point.

From now on, it remains to follow closely the modifications that may be made in the joint commission that will be held a few days after the reading of the ASAP law in the Assembly, and to know the opinion of the Constitutional Council if it is seized.
We recall that these repressive provisions will apply to all untitled occupiers, because in the case of administrative eviction, as in the case of penalization, it is a question of “maintaining” the premises.

Droit au Logement denounces this increased willingness to criminalize untitled occupants and to create expeditious eviction mechanisms, violating the right to defense and to a fair justice, while the right to housing is being violated:
– The number of homeless people is increasing at every moment, fuelled by the return of rental evictions without re-housing or accommodation (for example, on October 2, a 76-year-old tenant, his daughter and their dogs were evicted for non-payment in the 16th Arrondissement in Paris, without accommodation. They survive with a pension of 400€ and an RSA …),
– 3.2 million units are vacant,
– the law of requisition is not applied,
– the government continues to lower the APL, to progressively asphyxiate the HLMs, to violate the right to housing and the DALO law .

Droit au Logement demands the withdrawal of article 30 ter of the ASAP law as it stands, the application of the requisition law and a public policy that respects the right to decent, stable and accessible housing for all.

A roof is a right!

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DAL, Droit au logement