Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Thursday, July 2, 2009

No, no, we won't go

On the way back from the 20th Anniversary celebration of the Abbey Bookshop last night, I came across this:For the non-French speakers, the sign roughly says "This building has sat empty since 2004, and has been taken over by 10 students (blah blah can't read it) in precarious situations. Le CROUS is asking us for 3000€ per month and per occupant, and has obtained an order for our expulsion."

It immediately reminded me of a few different shows I've seen on TV here, covering the housing crisis and the insanely high number of empty buildings in Paris. A lot of companies (both French & foreign) apparently buy up these big apartment buildings left and right as a way to sort of hide their money - and then they just leave them empty. The French government also owns a good chunk of them.

Meanwhile, there is a major housing crisis in Paris and tons of students and/or people with low-incomes who can't find a place to live. Some students have thus started requisitioning these buildings - basically taking them over and using them as their own. In one report I saw, each of the students had a floor of their own - roughly 100m2 - filled with crown molding and marble fireplaces. Of course the building was completely empty, so most of them only had a mattress, some clothes and maybe some books in their entire apartment. And they had to live with the fear that they could be kicked out at any moment, or could come home and find the doors locked with all of their things inside.

Having spent quite a bit of time looking for an apartment in Paris, I know how frustrating (and soul-sucking) it can be, especially for those who don't have someone who can sign as a guarantor for them. And I do think it's absolutely crazy that all of these buildings sit empty - but they tend to be in the chicest neighborhoods of Paris and of course the residents there don't want to live with rowdy students or low-income people.

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Blogger Nicole said...

when we moved out of my FIL's apartment into the place we bought, I told my FIL that I had friends who would rent our place in a heartbeat if he was looking for a renter. He told me no way would he rent because there was zero incentive for owners. First of all, the rent he earned would be taxed at 50%. Then he would have to pay for renters insurance and for any problems/repairs that came up while it was occupied. The money that he would earn from a one bed apartment would in no way pay for all the hassle of renting it out. And that is if things went well. If the renter decided to not pay rent, it could take between 2 and 5 years to get him out, so no rent during that period PLUS the cost of a lawyer and a court case. When you hear it explained like that, you wonder why anyone would bother renting their place. He ended up leaving it empty until he sold the apartment.

July 2, 2009 at 3:05 PM  
Blogger Starman said...

Just another example of how illogical, and sometimes heartless, the French can be.

July 2, 2009 at 6:51 PM  
Blogger Madame K said...

Ditto what Nicole said.

The French aren't any more or less illogical or heartless than anybody else---French law however is often dim-witted at best.

We considered renting instead of selling our old apartment, but the rent and tax laws are totally against the owners. So we just sold it.

Blame Sarko?

July 3, 2009 at 11:08 AM  
Blogger jenever said...

I saw that building a few weeks ago. Broke my heart a little bit, because I know just as well as you do what a pain it can be to find a decent, affordable place in Paris.

One empty building I know about that drives me crazy is the Piscine Molitor in the 16th - it's an enormous public pool that has been unused for 10 years or so. It's classified as a national monument but would cost too much to renovate, so it just SITS there. In the most expensive neighborhood in the city. ugh!

July 6, 2009 at 2:25 PM  
Blogger kylie said...

i almost took a picture of the same thing after the abbey bookshop thing. it's so frustrating, like you said, because housing is at such a premium!

July 6, 2009 at 7:39 PM  

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