Politics. Assembly begins consideration of controversial anti-squats bill

The Assembly, which was already gray-eyed at the end of last week, begins on Monday the examination of the sensitive anti-squat bill, which could be passed with the votes of the deputies LR and RN and despite the opposition of the leftists and associations.

The text, carried by the Renaissance and Horizons groups, which have a presidential majority, proposes to triple the prison sentence of up to 3 years and a fine of 45,000 euros by squatters.

Shorter procedure times

“Currently, a squatter risks a year in prison and a fine of 15,000 euros. But the owner who changes the lock is at risk for 3 years and 45,000 euros,” Guillaume Kasbarian, the speaker of the text and also the chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee, claims.

The deputy for Eure-et-Loir is not in his first attempt: he had provisions against squats voted through a bill in 2020, but some of the measures were censored by the Constitutional Council, which regarded them as legislative riders.

His bill would impose the same penalty for those who pretend to be landlords in order to rent the property instead. He notes that the crime of trespassing also applies to second homes and extends the direct eviction procedure to unfurnished, unfurnished dwellings, without recourse to a judge.

The text also reduces the duration of court proceedings and stipulates that certain periods that can be granted by the judge are possible only if the tenant himself requests it. “An open attack on the Office of the Eviction Judge” for leftists who fear they won’t be able to apply for tenants.

The bill also wants to ease the landlords in the face of unpaid bills, again planning to shorten the procedure times.

“Make it a part”

In the absence of an absolute majority, the presidential camp must turn to its right to put the text to a vote. “We have been making proposals in this direction for a long time,” said MP Annie Genevard (LR). In committee, he passed an amendment to “make squatting akin to burglary,” an “important” provision he hoped would apply to cases of occupation of buildings for economic purposes.

“The National Rally Group endorses this bill,” said Geraldine Grangier, a deputy on the committee.

As for the government, if it has supported the text, it can still weigh in on the session to balance it.

“This text should be an opportunity to share things. We must not react in the same way to squatters, especially those held by slum landlords, to unpaid tenants,” housing minister Olivier Klein warned in early November.

“This law is a homeless factory”

Rebel MPs, communists and environmentalists are up in arms, even as some left-wing ultramarine MPs support amendments for strong measures abroad.

“This law is a homeless factory,” denounces LFI deputy Danielle Simonnet, whose group intends to file a rebuttal before the text. His colleague Francois Pikemal criticized the “news” of the proposed law on some “170” expulsion procedures completed in 2021, mentioned by Guillaume Kasbarian in the committee.

“If we reasoned like that, we wouldn’t do anything against the minority sleep traders,” the latter replied.

Squatting ‘isn’t a mass phenomenon’

In 2021, the Ministry of Housing calculated that “squatting is not a mass phenomenon in France”.

“This is a particularly dangerous law that wants to criminalize unpaid rent (…)”, environmentalist Aurélien Tache also confirms that certain provisions will lead to the “criminalization of the actions” of the Black Thursday collective.

Socialist Gerard Leseul believes that it is “a text disproportionate to the difficulty faced by certain owners”.

The Association for Housing Rights (DAL) held a rally on Sunday against the text, which “presents the settlers as criminals as well as asylum seekers”. Manuel Domergue (Abbé Pierre Foundation) fears: “This text will allow the eviction of squatters occupying empty apartments within 48 hours without a judge.” Attac denounces the “anti-social law” which “criminalizes the indeterminate”.

Discussions should start in the evening and continue until mid-week with around 200 amendments on the menu.

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