• France's news in English
La Question du Jour
Eviction season opens: What is France's 'winter truce?'
A homeless man in Paris. Photo: AFP

Eviction season opens: What is France's 'winter truce?'

Oliver Gee · 1 Apr 2016, 10:27

Published: 01 Apr 2016 10:27 GMT+02:00
Updated: 01 Apr 2016 10:27 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit
At midnight on Thursday a truce was called off that will have a major impact on thousands of people across France.
It's not the kind of truce you would find between enemies on a battlefield or warring political factions but between landlords across France and their tenants. 
April 1st marks the end of the trêve hivernale, or the winter truce as it can be translated, meaning French landlords will once again have the right to evict tenants and that thousands of homeless people will find themselves back out on the streets.
Charities say 40,000 households across the country now face eviction over the coming months.
But what is it exactly?
La trêve hivernale runs for five months from November 1st and marks a period when French landlords are not legally allowed to evict their tenants for any reason. 
The truce is meant as a humanitarian measure to ensure people don't become homeless and end up sleeping on the cold winter streets.
Basically the end of the truce coincides with the arrival of spring and warmer weather. 
From April 1st, police or bailiffs can start carrying out eviction notices that have been piling up throughout the winter months or weren't carried out before the truce came into effect.
The rules of the truce also prevent landlords from cutting off gas and electricity to tenants during the time period. Although it doesn't cover those living in squats or buildings deemed dangerous.
The law is highly contentious, and once again a demonstration will take place on Saturday against high rents and evictions being carried out despite alternative housing being arranged.

The number of households affected rises each year and shows no sign of slowing given the high unemployment rate and stumbling French economy.

“Each year, we simply announce when the truce begins and when it ends, but we are not able to do something that allows us to protest the most vulnerable,” said Christophe Robert from the housing charity Fondation Abbé Pierre.

“For some reason in this country we are incapable of putting in place a prevention policy to help families pay the unpaid rent debts or find alternative housing.

“This needs to be done after two or three months (of unpaid rent), but after a year it’s too late,” he said.

France’s housing minister announced this week a series of measures to ease the homeless crisis, including ensuring that 2,300 emergency shelter places were available all year round, but charities say it's simply not enough.

Christophe Louis from the charity Les Morts dans la Rue (The Dead on the Street) says the government simply has to build more affordable lodging.
"They have to launch construction projects so there is enough available accommodation that is accessible to the country's most hard-up," he told The Local. 
Story continues below…
But it’s not just about the hard up homeless.

Charities recognise that the process needs to be sped up for home owners who, because of the five month winter truce, often have to wait years before an eviction is finally carried out.

They are not all rich landlords and many of them simply can’t afford to be left out of pocket and local authorities procrastinate about whether to order an eviction.

The concept of the "winter truce" may seem foreign to those from English-speaking countries, as many of them don't have anything similar in their law books. In most other countries, landlords can evict tenants whenever they want if all correct procedures are followed. 
Statistics show that 115,000 families were subjected to court-ordered evictions in France in 2012, a figure that has shot up 37 percent in ten years.
Do you have a question about France you want answering? Send it in and we'll get experts on the case to help. 
Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
A Prophet. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

Looking for something to watch?

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part Two
Rust and Bone. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

The newest French films you need to see before you die (or alternatively when you get some spare time).

Election Watch
Presidential hopeful reckons a pain au chocolat is 10 cents

So France happily takes the pastry out of him.

French ministry of defence officials die in plane crash
Screengrab: eddydeg/Twitter

The French Ministry of Defence officials were killed on Monday when a light aircraft went down on the island of Malta.

Revealed: The ten most stolen cars in France
A Smart car in Paris. Photo: JR_Paris/Flickr

Thieves in France are getting a taste for luxury cars, it seems.

Analysis - France migrant crisis
Migrant crisis won't end with Calais 'Jungle' closure
All Photos: AFP

The Jungle camp may be being cleared but this won't be the end of the migrant crisis in France.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie 'to sell their French chateau'
All photos: AFP

Want to live where Brangelina got married?

How Paris is rapidly becoming Europe's 'City of Innovation'
Photo: AFP

If you want to start a company then Paris is the place to do it, it seems.

'Jungle' clearance: Migrants begin to leave Calais camp
All photos: AFP

The "Jungle" clearance is underway.

France's 'Jungle' children arrive in UK
Authorities will start to clear the ‘Jungle’ migrant camp on Monday. Photo: Denis Charlet / AFP file picture

The first group of children from the French "Jungle" migrant camp with no connection to Britain have arrived in the country, the Home Office said Sunday, ahead of the camp's planned demolition.

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
jobs available