France’s highest constitutional authority, le Conseil Constitutionnel, has approved legislation that cracks down harder on squatters, including in second homes.
The law triples the penalties for squatters, including up to three years in prison and a fine of €45,000.
These sanctions also apply to anyone who falsely poses as a property owner in a bid to rent a property that does not belong to them.
The new rules will apply to both main and second homes in France.
The law now states that any residential premises containing movable property can be considered a ‘home’. However, the Conseil Constitutionnel said that this point would remain open to interpretation and that it would be “up to the judge to assess whether the presence of these furnishings makes it possible to consider” the property to be a ‘home’.
The decision validated all proposed clauses, except for article 7, which would have released the property owner from their responsibility to maintain a squatted property and would exonerate them in case of any damage resulting from their lack of maintenance.
The council also allowed the creation of a new offence, punishable by a fine of up to €3,750, of any advertising or facilitating of squatting or squatting possibilities.
The decision also allowed the speeding up of legal proceedings and rental disputes against tenants who have not paid rent, with a “termination clause by operation of law” now applicable as standard in all lease contracts.
MPs from the left-wing political alliance les Nupes, who wanted to stop the law, had requested the involvement of France’s constitutional council.
The law had been proposed by Renaissance MP Guillaume Kasbarian and was passed in parliament on June 14.
Les Nupes argued the law was too “severe”, that its punishments were disproportionate and that it went against the constitutional objective of the "right to decent housing".
In April, the United Nations said the then-proposed law would increase the housing insecurity of already “vulnerable” people.
Noria Derdek, director of studies at the homeless charity la Fondation Abbé Pierre, told HuffPost in June the law would “have dramatic social and human consequences and force people to choose between homelessness and prison”.
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