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Anti-squat law: what the text presented to the Assembly contains

A new hot topic is likely to spark the Assembly.

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Anti-squat law: what the text presented to the Assembly contains

A new hot topic is likely to spark the Assembly. This Monday, November 28, deputies are examining a proposed anti-squat law, with no less than 197 amendments tabled. The debates should start in the evening and last until mid-week. The proposal could be adopted with the votes of LR and RN deputies, and despite opposition from the left and associations. Carried by the groups of the presidential majority Renaissance and Horizons, the text proposes to triple the penalties incurred by the squatters up to 3 years in prison and a 45,000 euro fine. "Currently a squatter risks one year in prison and a 15,000 euro fine. But the owner who changes the lock risks 3 years and 45,000 euros", argues the rapporteur Guillaume Kasbarian, also chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee.

The deputy of Eure-et-Loire drives the nail to the microphone of Franceinfo: “There is an urgency to legislate because today, we have an imbalance between a right to housing and a right of property which must be respected. " The 35-year-old elected official is not at his first attempt: he had provisions against squats voted in 2020 via a bill, but part of the measures had been censored by the Constitutional Council, which considered them to be legislative riders. His bill provides in return the same penalty for those who pretend to be an owner in order to rent a property. It specifies that the offense of entry into the home also concerns second homes, and extends the express eviction procedure, without recourse to a judge, to vacant dwellings, empty of furniture.

The bill presented by Guillaume Kasbarian also aims to support owners in the face of unpaid bills. The FNAIM, which represents real estate professionals, welcomes a "beginning of rebalancing of rights". A "rebalancing which seems to be to the detriment of tenants since the text provides for halving the duration of the legal procedure. "Social services, which are overwhelmed, will no longer have time to help these tenants resume their payments “, warns Ninon Overhoff, head of the “street to housing” department at Secours Catholique, in Le Monde. Certain deadlines that may be granted by a judge, would now only be possible if the tenant makes the request himself. But they still need to know their rights.

"We cannot impose on small owners procedures that sometimes last 3 years to recover their housing!", Defends the president of the Renaissance deputies Aurore Bergé, on Franceinfo. The bill also wants to comfort lessors in the face of unpaid bills, again planning to shorten procedural deadlines. In the absence of an absolute majority, the presidential camp should turn to its right to have the text voted on. "We have been making proposals in this direction for a long time," said MP Annie Genevard (LR). In committee, she had an amendment adopted to "liken squatting to theft", an "essential" provision that she hopes to extend to cases of occupation of premises for economic use. The RN group also approved this text in committee.

As for the government, if it supported the text, it could still weigh in session to balance it. “We should not react in the same way against squats, in particular those maintained by slum landlords, as against unpaid tenants,” warned Housing Minister Olivier Klein. Olivier Véran, government spokesman, has already announced that he will support the text.

While the French find themselves under the influence of inflation and an energy crisis linked to the war in Ukraine, was attacking the "squatters" an emergency? "There are only around 200 squats a year. With the latest reform [the ASAP law of 2020], we have found a balance and we know how to deal with them. And we had been able to contain rental evictions", considers Emmanuelle Wargon , responsible for the same portfolio during the first five-year term of Emmanuel Macron. In 2021, the Ministry of Housing estimated that "squatting is not a massive phenomenon in France".

For its part, the opposition is upwind. This law is a homeless factory", denounces the deputy LFI Danielle Simonnet, whose group intends to file a motion of rejection prior to the text. His colleague François Piquemal castigates a bill of "news item", in view of the some "170 " eviction procedures completed in 2021 mentioned by Guillaume Kasbarian. "If we held this kind of reasoning, we would not have done anything against the sleep merchants, who are also a minority", retorted the latter, who specified that the proposal does not touch on the question of the winter break."It is a particularly dangerous law (...) which wants to criminalize unpaid rent", also denounces the ecologist Aurélien Taché, affirming that certain provisions would have led to " criminalize the actions" of the Black Thursday collective.

In total, around fifteen organizations are calling for this text to be withdrawn. Their line of defence: if people squat it means that the right to housing in France is not respected. It is a "text disproportionate to the difficulty encountered by some owners", believes for his part the socialist Gérard Leseul. The Right to Housing (DAL) association demonstrated on Sunday against the text and is organizing a new rally on Monday at 6 p.m., in the presence of left-wing deputies. Their slogan: "housing is not a crime." Attac denounces a law which "criminalises the precarious". "This text will allow evictions in 48 hours, without a judge, of squatters who occupy vacant housing", fears Manuel Domergue of the Abbé Pierre Foundation, which lists 4 million people poorly or not housed in France in its 27th report. Another emergency.

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