The Senate is strengthening its legislative arsenal against squatters
“I would like to welcome the quality of the exchanges and the courtesy of each other”, – André Reichardt (LR) split at the end of the session this Thursday evening. The speaker of the so-called “Antique” bill had reason to worry about the content of the discussions in the National Assembly. Renaissance deputy Guillaume Kasbarian’s bill, by tightening sanctions against squatters, actually created a strong and sulphurous right-left divide in the Assembly: its text was adopted there with the unanimous support of LR and RN. While the majority of the president is causing the fury of the left.
In the Senate, the debate was less explosive, although Eric Dupond-Moretti’s certain predictions almost ignited the dust when the text began to be examined last Tuesday. However, the 91 senators from communist, environmentalist and socialist groups who voted against the text and the presidential majority, with all senators from right and center senators, left-right opposition was ultimately equally clear. majority of those who voted in favor.
Better differentiate between squatters and tenants by default
According to centrist Senator Valéry Létard, he did not win. “We saw a text coming from the Assembly that my group probably wasn’t going to vote the way it was, and certainly not for me,” the housing expert told the Senate at the end of the test. The Vice-President of the Senate questioned the non-discriminatory treatment of squatters who deliberately enter a room and tenants who illegally occupy accommodation due to unpaid rent. The “rebalancing” carried out by the Law Commission from this point of view is, according to Valéry Letard, “essential” for the vote of the centrists, and the majority of senators did not welcome the fact of LR’s LR rapporteur André Reichardt. The text isn’t afraid to say “improvements”.
In principle, two years after the passage of a similar LR bill, the senatorial right logically welcomed a tripling of the penalties suffered by squatters, up to three years in prison and a €45,000 fine. Currently €15,000. Only in the version of the Senate, this tightening applies only to “the crime of vacating premises for residential or professional use”, while “ensuring that the accepted expression does not apply to the tenant”, assured the speaker. In the committee, the senators also adopted a whole gradation of criminal sanctions for illegal occupation of property.
“Don’t confuse poverty with crime”
But the senatorial right at the bottom of the sanctions pyramid wanted to keep tougher fines of up to 7,500 euros and 6-month prison sentences for tenants who still occupy illegal accommodation. But only after the final eviction announced by the judge and with the exception of tenants of the winter vacation and social park. “Let’s trust the prosecution,” said André Reichardt, arguing that by definition, these measures would only apply to people judged by judges to be malicious.
But the symbolic size of the prison sentence, even 6 months, and therefore the arrangement, made people jump off the benches of the left. “Let’s not sentence renters who do not receive their wages to prison. Let’s not confuse poverty with crime. Let’s not create a new vagrancy crime,” pleaded Eliane Assassi, the president of the communist group, as well as environmentalist Senator Guy Benarroche: “We don’t want prison for debt, we don’t want a sanction that has been banned in the Republic for years. May our justice in forgetting this debt be restored. »
The leftists tried to delete every provision of the text throughout the exam, but they did not succeed. Except for this moment, when centrist Senator Valéry Létard joined communist and environmental groups in denouncing the “useless and counterproductive” provision and reminding us of the necessary distinction between an “irresponsible tenant” and an “illegally seizing the property of others.” Therefore, the Senate canceled the prison sentence, keeping the fine of 7,500 euros. According to Valérie Létard, it was an “understandable compromise”, while her centrist colleague Nathalie Goulet welcomed the “wise decision” and “faced with a sentence that makes little sense or is intolerable.”
“The absolutist concept of real estate”
Nevertheless, the “compromise” that leaves traces in each other’s interventions. “During the exchanges, it was explained to us that it is unacceptable to go home and find someone living there. That is right. This is what our current laws condemn and what justifies the 170 races of public power carried out in 48 hours in 2021. It is therefore regrettable that these 170 squatters serve as an excuse for legislation when 300,000 homeless people are waiting for housing. You want to impose additional fines on those you cannot guarantee affordable housing,” Eliane Assassi protested.
Specifically, the senator objected to the expansion of the definition of “unreasonable” that constitutes a “home,” in the words of the president of a left-wing communist group, and therefore subject to illegal occupation. “Before, we protected furnished and living spaces under the name of the right to privacy. With this text, we will protect the real estate of buildings, even though they have been empty for years, but there are ten times more empty apartments than people on the street,” said environmental protection senator Guy Benarroche, “decrying the absolutist concept”. real estate. Éliane Assassi added: ” most of them are empty, that is, no one has a home.
“They are nobody’s house, they are somebody’s property”
“They are nobody’s house, they are somebody’s property,” said Dominic Estrosi Sassone, rapporteur for the opinion of the LR’s Economic Affairs Committee, referring to “this inviolable and sacred right” of property. Catherine Procaccia, another LR senator specializing in this issue, preferred a more personal debate to get her colleagues on the left to listen to the cause: “My daughter lives abroad and comes to her apartment in Paris for six months a year. However, it is considered a second home. You tell him that he has no right to go home [si quelqu’un s’y introduit]. »
Despite the objections of the left, Dominique Estrosi Sassone therefore welcomed the text “recombining a certain number of measures to combat squatting to guarantee real estate” that appeared in particular in the bill passed by the Senate two years ago. If Senator LR regrets the “lost time”, nevertheless, he welcomes the strengthening of the fight against the widespread use of procedures by malicious tenants. »
Crime of “advertisement” and “incitement”.
In this regard, the bill creates a new crime “propaganda” or “advertising” punishable by a fine of 3,550 euros. A measure to create a “crime of solidarity” for the left and “punish all associations that help the state solve poor housing problems,” according to environmentalist Sen. Guy Benarrosch.
“I don’t believe we can count it as an act of solidarity to post real scoop guides explaining how to fraudulently enter a residential home and how to use statutory safeguards,” the speaker responded. “Apart from squatters, we must oppose networks that organize squats to the detriment of honest people. We are facing this more and more often,” added Dominic Estrosi Sassone.
Since the expedited procedure was not initiated by the government, the Senate-passed version of this bill will go back to the National Assembly, where it will have to be reintroduced by the presidential majority before returning to parliament. Senate. “See you in a few weeks at the second reading in the National Assembly,” Guillaume Kasbarian, the deputy author of the bill, reacted on Twitter.