In 2016, Lou Benoist paid 1325 euros for a 35m2 apartment in Paris.She tells us about her struggle to get the rent framework respected.

“Paris has always been my adopted city.Originally from Caen (Calvados) and a student in Grenoble, Paris is the capital where I always spent a few months during my studies, on the occasion of internships and prep work.Privileged, I have always had friends, “friends of friends”, or “relatives of friends”, who rented or lent me a room to stay in.But, in 2016, we decided to move to Paris with my husband following a professional opportunity for him.At that time, the rent regulation has not yet been cancelled.In our search for a two-room apartment, we are faced with a housing crisis.

Finding accommodation from Normandy was no easy task: visits are made the same day and apartments are rented within the hour.And these visits are often disappointing: the accommodation is either too cramped, too expensive, too noisy, sometimes sinister …Even if we show white legs (with my father as guarantor, my spouse on permanent contracts), our files, before the mass of “competitors”, are not retained.Yet, finding a “home” is becoming more and more pressing.

We are submitting a final application for a furnished F2 “en enfilade” in the 17th arrondissement, on the 6th floor of a well-maintained Haussmann-style building overlooking a small inner courtyard.The apartment is bright but the opposite is everywhere and the kitchen is barely noticeable.The price cools us down: 1325 euros for a 35m2 furnished apartment.The apartment is clean and well placed; time is running out and we are filing a file…which will be refused.

A rent legally fixed at 1105 euros

48 hours later, finally, the real estate agency, based in Neuilly-sur-Seine, reminds us: the owner has changed his mind, the F2 is ours.Delighted, here we go on a new adventure that nevertheless costs us: at the signing, we are asked to pay the rent of 1325 euros, plus a rental receipt fee (120 euros), plus a security deposit (of 2460 euros), a transaction fee of 1,125 euros.Painful for 35 m2.

A few weeks after we moved in, still amazed by the price of our rent, I find out about the Alur law and make an appointment with a lawyer from the National Housing Information Agency (Anil).The latter confirms to me that the Alur law should normally apply to our housing.We should pay a maximum of EUR 1105.I then contact the agency and ask them to reduce the rent due to law enforcement.The answer is clear: “There is no law enforcement possible for this furnished apartment.»

The reason? Inconsistent: “The owner, a trader, lives in London.He travels a lot and only rents the apartment to strangers or people passing through.The price has never been a problem so far, by the way.”I don’t see the connection, I’m sending a firm e-mail back in the aftermath.Our interlocutors are dry in their response: “We were very kind to accept you as tenants.Only your spouse has a permanent contract! »

A positive opinion, but a law still not respected

We present our case, the facts, our claims.The opposing party does the same, always in a fuzzy way.The members of the committee will give a favourable opinion on our position on 9 March 2017.But off, in the corridor of the prefecture, the owner’s representative threatens us: “You know, the wind is changing, the law will soon disappear and you will never be reimbursed.»

If the agency representative appeared conciliatory before the members of the commission, we never received the said refund, but a registered letter informing us…that the owner and our agency did not wish to respect the commission’s decision.To enforce the law, however clear.In spite of the Commission’s opinion, which is also clear, we have to go to the district court!

We are therefore taking the case to court, still without a lawyer, on 27 March 2017.The opposing party has a lawyer, a Parisian specialist in the field.Our file was due to be processed on May 16, 2017.Yet on the day of the hearing, we’re alone.The file was referred, at the last moment, by counsel for the opposing parties.He “forgot” to inform us.


An ubuesque inventory of fixtures

At the same time we decide to leave the accommodation.The inventory of fixtures with the owner’s mother turns out, as expected, to be ubuesque: she counts every little spoon, notes every stain, every wear and tear…The deposit, planed down, will be recovered by threatening legal proceedings.

A new hearing finally takes place on June 27, 2017.This time the lawyer is present, cordial.The arguments of the opposing party before the presiding judge for not enforcing the law are laughable…and disturbing.What if the court were to fall for it? “This lease advertisement made it clear that the lease was offered only on the basis of employment and for a period of one year, and therefore the lease was excluded from the scope of the law,” the landlord’s lawyer calmly explained to the bar.

He was hoping to demonstrate that the house was a second home because we were moving from Normandy for my spouse’s new job.”The apartment has been rented fully furnished and equipped, as evidenced by the furniture inventory drawn up between the parties at the conclusion of the rental contract.This inventory, which is very complete, makes it difficult to establish a principal residence in this dwelling,” he continues quietly.We kept our cool.

A real obstacle course

Judgment will come down a few weeks later.He’s final.In accordance with the decision of the conciliation board, our landlord was well out of line.He finally refunded us a thousand euros in overpayments during our rental.However, this battle seemed to us to be a long and unfair battle for a law that should “facilitate access to housing”.

I was able to defend our case and win it for several reasons: I was a freelance journalist and was still partly receiving unemployment benefit; I speak and write French; I decided to devote time and energy to it, that is to say: filling in files, collecting and assembling the many supporting documents to be transmitted, writing and justifying our arguments to assert our right, writing and responding to opposing parties, keeping my cool – or not.

The owner was convicted, the agency was convicted.They paid us back after months of fighting.But we have not had any damages and the agency is still in business and is probably continuing its methods quietly.And the landlord trader probably still quietly rents above the Alur threshold.”