Woman wins local tax fight over French home invaded by squatters

A court has ordered that she is refunded four years of the tax. It was her fourth attempt to be exonerated

The canal Saint Martin in Paris
Squatters spent four years in the property along the canal

The owner of a flat in central Paris has been refunded four years of property tax payments after squatters took over the property on several occasions.

The woman, who is disabled, discovered squatters in her property along the Canal Saint-Martin, in Paris’ 10th arrondissement, and requested their eviction, which was granted in April 2016.

On the recommendation of the local police prefecture, she boarded up the doors – the property was vacant whilst she was looking after her sick mother – and changed the locks.

However, the same squatters returned at the start of 2017 and took over the property again.

Other residents in the apartment block complained about the squatting, leading to the landlord again requesting assistance from the police, but this time they refused to help. 

In addition, her request to the tax authorities to be exonerated from taxe foncière payments due to the squatting were rejected. 

The squatters remained in the property for a further two years before finally leaving in 2019. 

Read more: Landowner in France fined for theft committed by squatters

Four requests to be exempt from taxes

The owner had made four separate requests to be exonerated for the property tax. 

Read more: Taxe foncière explainer: Who pays and the exemptions

The first three were rejected. 

In her most recent request, however – heard by the Paris courts in February – she was granted exemption for the four years that squatters were in the property. 

It is possible to be exempt from taxe foncière payments due to squatting, states Article 1389 of the French Tax Code. A month-by-month exemption is possible provided the property is squatted (or otherwise unable to be let) for the entire month.

There are three conditions that need to be met for this:

Firstly, “the vacancy or non-use is beyond the control of the taxpayer”, and the disturbance must last at least three months and affect all of the building, or all of the part that is rented out. 

The court ruled that in the case of the woman, all three conditions were met. She had “taken the necessary steps to evacuate the squatters for the years 2017 to 2019,” even if they had not been successfully removed. 

In addition, the circumstances of the owner – she was heavily disabled, and was looking after her ailing mother outside of Paris – made it extremely difficult for her to do more than she did. 

Read more: Couple who wrecked French chateau after pretending to be buyers jailed