The owners of certain districts of Seine-Saint-Denis must now apply for authorization in town hall before renting their property. A measure to fight the scourge of "unworthy housing".

Since the beginning of the year, the owners of certain neighborhoods in Seine-Saint-Denis, north of Paris, have to obtain from their town hall a "Rent permit" before signing any new lease. Those who evade this obligation will incur a fine of € 5,000, up to € 15,000 in the event of a repeat offense.

Unhealthy housing at a high price

The municipalities of Saint-Denis, Aubervilliers and Stains hope to fight against "Sleep merchants", as we call these owners who do not hesitate to rent at a high price unhealthy housing to precarious people, often immigrants, in a context of saturation of emergency housing and social housing.

Old buildings, the fear and anger of Marseilles

The measure already applied to the entire town of Pierrefitte-sur-Seine, 30,000 inhabitants, the first city of this popular department to have set up a "license to rent", a tool provided by the ALUR law, also known as Loi Duflot 2, adopted in 2014.

Since October 2017, the municipality has processed only a dozen authorization files and opposed a single refusal. "It's obvious that it's not the sleep merchants who are going to apply. But we can now make them condemn more easily and hope that it will calm the networks ", considers the mayor (socialist) Michel Fourcade.

A national scourge

In Saint-Denis, 110,000 inhabitants, nearly 22% of private housing is potentially "Unworthy"or 5,500 homes, mostly located in the city center, according to the town hall. In Aubervilliers, 80,000 inhabitants, this percentage rises to 42%, according to the mayor (PCF), Mériem Derkaoui.

But this scourge does not affect only the Paris region. It is found in some neighborhoods of Marseille, as recalled the fatal collapse of two buildings in November, but also in Villeurbanne and Vénissieux, near Lyon.

State services reportedly located nearly 23,000 of these homes "Unworthy"in other words, dangerous for the health of their occupants, in different sensitive areas where these rentals are concentrated, often illegal. The Abbé Pierre Foundation estimates that there would be 600,000 dwellings out of a total park of 35 million.

Hit the wallet

To fight against, the government has recently decided to increase from five to ten billion euros the envelope allocated to urban renewal in 480 neighborhoods. The ELAN law, promulgated in November, also claims to strike the wallet at the sleep merchants and unscrupulous owners.

Nearly 4 million people are poorly housed, according to Fondation Abbé Pierre

Rent a home "Unworthy" is now considered a crime, along with drug trafficking, punishable by fines and even imprisonment. If an offense is found, the property may also be confiscated, unless the judge decides otherwise. And convicted sleep merchants will no longer be able to buy new property for up to ten years

"Never a text had gone so far to fight against those who exploit the distress of the most fragile"had welcomed, during the parliamentary discussion of the text, the former Minister of Territorial Cohesion, Jacques Mézard.

The law, however, did not create a mayor's police power to prohibit the rental of unworthy or dangerous housing. The introduction of a "permit to rent" is the way that elected officials have found to overcome this obvious lack.

Antoine d'Abbundo

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