An “antisquat” law that criminalizes tenants in difficulty
Rather than attacking poor housing, rather than defending landlords and tenants within the framework of a universal rental guarantee, Macronie prefers to attack the most precarious tenants. This is what the “anti-squat” law, defended this week by the Renaissance deputy Guillaume Kasbarian, is aiming at, which plans to triple the prison sentences and the fines incurred by the squatters (up to three years of imprisonment and 45 000 euros in penalties), and above all to create penalties for tenants in difficulty, in addition to reducing the legal procedure for eviction without recourse to a judge, by reducing it from a maximum of three years to one year.
Criminalization of the tenant
“This is not an ‘antisquat’ law. You confuse squatting, which is an illegal intrusion, a home invasion for which all the legal arsenal exists, to actually toughen the legislation in order to speed up the rental evictions of people who are in payment difficulties” , reacted Stéphane Peu.
The communist deputy thus qualifies this law as » Trojan horse « which will make it possible to multiply the situations of exclusion and expulsions in “criminalizing the tenant”. All while we are “in a time of inflation, a time of rising poverty, rising food prices and rising electricity and gas bills,” the chosen one was alarmed. It is thus those who suffer precariousness who will be sanctioned, in the name of an opposition between owners and tenants. « It would be better to protect each other, through the universal rental guarantee which guarantees the rent to the landlord and which protects the tenant in good faith with rent spreads », invites the PCF deputy.
« You simply propose to reinvent the prison for debts which has nevertheless been abolished in France since 1867 », Sabrina Sebaihi was also indignant. The deputy EELV, adds, on the subject of the squatters, that these « do not come from nowhere, it is the scarcity of housing that creates the squat ». This is not the opinion of Guillaume Kasbarian, who does not intend to legislate on the housing crisis but “fighting people who are fundamentally dishonest” and “defending small landowners”. » I beg you. Never lose sight of the fact that the fundamental right to housing cannot be put on the same level as the financial profitability of a lessor”, called FI MP Sébastien Deloglu, whose group recalls that in France, one million households alone own five million properties. “You do not protect the small owners of whom you speak, but especially the multi-owners who make an income from real estate and from the increase in rents”, accused Stéphane Peu.
“A homeless factory”
In a column published Monday in the JDD, five FI deputies point to the risk of fueling poor housing. “At a time when many tenants are going to find themselves in more and more difficulty due to the cost of inflation, the drop in housing assistance, the price of gasoline and energy, this law draws the features of a potential social disaster”they write, while France already has 300,000 homeless people, 4.1 million poorly housed people and 12 million people in fuel poverty… « This law is a real homeless factory », thus castigates Danielle Simonnet. Because even as the housing crisis continues to worsen, this text misses this hot topic and gives the green light to mass evictions. All expeditiously with the reduction of procedures.
“It is important to send a signal to donors so as not to discourage their investments”, has also assumed Guillaume Kasbarian. A measure contested by the associations, considering that this current duration of procedure is vital. “It allows a time of respite for people who find themselves on the street and who have no other solutions”, declares a member of the Collectif Pasteur, defenders of the rights of refugees and the homeless.
Especially since in the majority of cases of squat « the collectives invest empty places, so there is no human damage », declares a member of the collective who has occupied, since May 2021, a former abandoned restaurant in Montreuil (Seine-Saint-Denis). In this squat, made up mainly of pregnant women and young children, the residents benefit from a roof, social and medical follow-up, and educational support for the children. They went from 120 to about 20 people in a few months. « If the squat hadn’t been there, I don’t think I could have survived, neither me nor my daughter », says Mariam, an Ivorian refugee who has lived there since March 2022. « It’s a social struggle that puts in place support, offers them a roof and above all humanity », explains the Collectif Pasteur.
LR and RN united behind Macronie
If this bill has not yet been passed, it is supported by the right and the extreme right. « For several years the right of ownership has been called into question and the owners are very often helpless in the face of squats which are purely and simply thefts », declares Géraldine Grangier, deputy RN. A measure shared by the right. “With the rapporteur, we were able to agree on a point that I consider essential, namely the qualification of the squat. The squat is akin to flying, announced Annie Genevard, deputy LR, specifying that it was necessary to distinguish the quantum of penalties between a squatter and a deadbeat tenant. On the executive side, the government has shown itself to be in favor of this bill, in particular concerning the measure to increase penalties, including for tenants. « I am completely in favor of the alignment in the scale of sentences », declared Éric Dupond-Moretti, Minister of Justice. He still called for the withdrawal of LR’s amendment equating the squat with theft “so as not to create a presumption of guilt which would present an extremely significant constitutional risk”.