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'Scandalous' case of man living in 1.56m² Paris flat

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'Scandalous' case of man living in 1.56m² Paris flat
"Harry Potter's cupboard under the stairs" The flat with 1.56 square metres of habitable living space. Photo: Fondation Abbé Pierre
09:40 CET+01:00
Cramped apartments are often a reality of living in Paris, but some have it worse than others. A housing charity revealed this week the "scandalous" case of a tenant who lived for 15 years in a 1.56-square-metre flat, for €330 a month.

The story of the man, named only as Dominique, aged 50, who had been living in an apartment the size of most people's toilet or Harry Potter's cupboard under the stairs, as one French media outlet described it, was revealed by French radio RTL.

Flats in France are legally measured according the dimensions of 'habitable' space - essentially the amount of room the tenant has to stand up straight without banging his head on the ceiling.

At €330 euros per month, Dominique's rent works out at an eye-watering €220 per square metre of habitable space. When interviewed by RTL about his living conditions the tenant simply replied, "we don't live, we just survive'.

“It is scandalous,” said Samuel Mouchard from the housing charity Fondation Abbé Pierre, which brought the part time worker's sorry living conditions to light.

The charity wants to use his case to bring to the public's attention the number of minuscule apartments that are being rented out in Paris illegally.

“Landlords are profiting from the housing crisis in Paris,” Mouchard told The Local. “Many people don't have a choice but to accept to live in these tiny apartments because they fear being out on the street.”

Authorities have now closed the apartment and currently processing a court order which will force the landlord to rehouse his tenant in a more suitably sized flat.

It is illegal in France for landlords to rent out apartments that have less than nine square metres of habitable space, but many continue to flout the law, Mouchard says.

“Some landlords are unscrupulous. The law is there but it needs to be enforced.”

“Tenants need to know that it's forbidden. If they have doubts they can go to their local Town Hall where measures can be taken to protect them or to rehouse them,” Mouchard said.

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