The cramped apartment costs 71-year-old José €250 a month.
And while it has 5 m2 of floor space, there is just one square metre where the ceiling is high enough for him to stand, leaving him with no choice but to move around “on all fours”.
“I feel like a turtle. It is painful both morally and physically,” he told the French press. “In my life, at work, no one suspects my situation.”
On top of the confined space in which he lives, he also has to put up with a skylight roof that leaks when it rains, preventing him from having a mattress.
Instead he rolls out a blanket in the evening and his toilet his located on the landing.
“To wash myself, I go three times a week to the municipal swimming pool.”
Perhaps the most scandalous part of José's story is that he is far from alone which is why housing charity Fondation Abbé Pierre 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.
In this case the charity has exposed one landlord who owns 12 apartments, all too small to rent out legally, on Avenue Jean Moulin in the 14th arrondissement of the French capital, including José's.
The apartments all sized between 0.9 m2 and 6 m2 are rented for between €250 and €480 a month.
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.
In the end it was one of José's tenants who brought the situation to the attention of the Fondation Abbé Pierre.
After doing some of their own research, the charity reported the situation to Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, Samuel Mouchard from Fondation Abbé Pierre said and the authorities have now launched their own investigation.
Due to the ongoing case, the tenants are no longer paying rent and have been protected from eviction in the meantime.