TAXATION: OUR SPECIALISTS TELL YOU EVERYTHING ABOUT THE NEW ANTI-SQUAT LAW
What changes with the new anti-squat law?
On 27 July 2023 the French President promulgated a law aimed at protecting residential accommodation from unlawful occupancy.
The law was put forward by the elected representative Guillaume Kasbarian. In his opinion “For too long small landlords have been the victims of squatters, or a restricted number of tenants who haven’t been paying their rent for years”.
The law has several objectives.
- Cracking down on squatters
The legislation triples the penalties for squatting (forcible entry).
The maximum penalties incurred have been increased to three years’ imprisonment and a fine of 45,000 euros (as against, currently, one year’s imprisonment and a fine of 15,000 euros).
Forcible entry has been extended to furnished unoccupied residential accommodation.
Squatting in premises other than a domicile is now punished by a new offence “fraudulently occupying premises for residential or commercial, agricultural or professional use”, which is punished by up to two years’ imprisonment and a fine of 30,000 euros. The offence also covers tenants who have not paid their rent and have remained in the accommodation following an eviction judgment which has become final. The tenants are liable for a fine of 7,500 euros, except any who fall within the winter moratorium and are covered by a decision to suspend expulsion or to grant access to social housing.
- campaigns or advertising facilitating or inciting squatting is now liable for a fine of 3,750 euros.
- a new criminal offence has been created regarding the rental of a property by a person who passes themselves off as the owner.
2. Combatting unpaid rent
The law requires that an automatic termination clause be systematically inserted in rental agreements to cover unpaid rent.
The clause may, however, be suspended, subject to certain restrictive conditions, upon an application to the court: the judge can suspend ex officio or at the request of the tenant or the landlord the effects of the termination clause only if the tenant is in a position to pay off the rent owing and has “recommenced full payment of ongoing rent prior to the date of the hearing”. Suspension of the clause is automatically halted “upon the first unpaid rent instalment” or delay in paying off the rent owed as established by the judge.
Lastly, the law reduces certain timeframes in dispute proceedings relating to unpaid rent, in particular for tenants acting in bad faith. Hence the period allotted for a summons to pay rent owed has been reduced from two months to one month only, and the period between the summons and the hearing has been reduced from two months to six weeks.