Is the law too lax with bad paying tenants?


Along with squats, it is the other scourge that plagues the lives of owners. Less publicized, unpaid rents are however just as much, if not more, traumatic for lessors. Faced with the influx of complaints, the government was forced to respond by changing the law. In question? Too long legal proceedings – around 2 years – and costly – several thousand euros. But where the shoe pinch is that the text, which now allows occupants to be evicted in 72 hours maximum, does not concern bad paying tenants. Especially those who refuse to leave the premises when they are at the end of the lease. And suddenly, the wait is long, very long.

»READ ALSO – They accuse the state of protecting bad-paying tenants

Daniel *, 55, has lived through this ordeal for 5 years. Owner in Paris, he agreed to share his testimony with us.

TESTIMONIAL – “Why do the police not apply a court decision?”

In 2006, I bought a 9 m² maid’s room on the 8th floor of a Parisian apartment. Year after year, I rent it out to students for 10 months. In the summer of 2011, I received the candidacy of an employee who presented well and told me that I had more interest in signing with him (only with a student) because it offers me a furnished lease renewable for one year. The fact that he is forcing my hand appealed to me, but his arguments were so convincing that I accepted. Everything is going well until June 2016. He pays his rent normally. Then my daughter, who lives in Lille, warns me that she wants to resume her studies in Paris. In March, I warn the tenant – by letter and orally – that the lease will not be renewed in June 2016 (the law obliges the owner to notify at least 3 months before the expiry date of the lease, the tenant, in the case of a furnished rental, Editor’s note). But in July, he refuses to leave the accommodation. I send for a bailiff who ascertains the facts. I am initiating legal proceedings. The tenant is dragging things along by saying that the size of the room is not legal and disputes the fact that I want to put my daughter in her place. My daughter having returned to school in September, I had to rent another maid’s room.

»READ ALSO – She fights for her sick parents to get their squatted home

Worse: the tenant wants to requalify the lease in “3-6-9 years” with a drop in rent (from 450 euros per month including charges to 320 euros) at stake. Justice proves him right. Three years later, I’m giving the tenant leave, this time for sale. I sent him a letter in December 2019 asking him to leave in June 2020. But he refused again. I call a bailiff again and start a new procedure. The tenant is rejected at first instance in May 2021 and then on appeal in July. The judge orders his expulsion. But faced with the tenant’s refusal, we demand the help of the public force. To this day, I still have not heard from the police. My lawyer thinks they won’t intervene before the winter break (which begins on November 1 and ends on April 1 of the following year).

This story costs me 100,000 euros in cash between the non-sale of the maid’s room, the purchase of the maid’s room for my daughter and the 6 years of proceedings. I am angry with the police who do not apply a court decision. Especially since the tenant is not in need. For my part, I have work to do in my home, a loan to repay and taxes to pay, in particular for this maid’s room that I cannot sell or rent. Not to mention the tenant’s neighbors who tell me he’s disrespectful to them and the caretaker. I have enough!

* the first name has been changed

What the law says?

Behind this story, a question: should we consider a tenant at the end of the lease, who refuses to leave, as a squatter? For Justice, the answer is no. A squatter is an illegal occupant because he has no right or title. He may have broken into the accommodation or, failing that, he is staying there illegally. On the other hand, a tenant has entered legally because he has, a priori, a rental contract.

»READ ALSO – Professional advice to detect fraudulent or bad paying tenants

He is therefore not considered a squatter and therefore cannot be evicted in less than 72 hours, as provided for in the law that came into force on January 1. In the event of non-payment or if the tenant maintains his position despite the end of the lease, the owner must initiate the traditional long and expensive legal procedure. Note that an owner who expels the dishonest tenant himself is liable to 3 years in prison and a fine of 30,000 euros.

Will the government change the law?

Contacted by Le Figaro, the entourage of Emmanuelle Wargon affirms that the Minister in charge of Housing does not intend to modify the law. “We must distinguish between squatters and tenants, whatever their situation and including in cases where the lease is broken. The occupation of real estate is qualified as squatting when it involves a violation of domicile, that is to say a criminal offense. The tenants for their part entered into a rental contract with their owner at a given time, have legally entered the property, and are not guilty of a criminal offense even when they are in default of payment, for example. .

»READ ALSO – How to protect yourself from unpaid rent?

“Extremely minority situations”

The new procedure allowed by the ASAP law concerning squats implies that the owner lodges a complaint, which would prove inoperative in the event of a dispute between an owner and a tenant. These situations are the responsibility of the civil judge, including in the event that the lease is broken, in the absence of a criminal offense. In cases where the end of the lease desired by the owner is contested by the tenant, it is the role of the civil judge to intervene to settle the dispute. If the breach of the lease is pronounced, the tenant is put on notice to vacate the property. If he continues to occupy it despite this decision, the law provides for an expulsion procedure with the assistance of the public force after finding by the bailiff and referral to the prefect. These situations, as striking and damaging as they are, remain extremely in the minority.“.

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