Trêve hivernale: Why you can’t be evicted in winter in France

A homeless man sleeps on the streets in Strasbourg, eastern France.
A homeless man sleeps on the streets in Strasbourg, eastern France. Photo: Frederick Florin/AFP
France has a lot of laws that protect the rights of ordinary people, and one of the most famous is the trêve hivernale, or winter truce. Here's what it means.

Tenants in France who stop paying their rent obviously run the risk of their landlord losing patience and throwing them out – but only between the months of April and October.

That’s thanks to the trêve hivernale – the winter truce that means you cannot be thrown out onto the streets while the country is in the depths of winter. The trêve hivernale is enshrined in law and also applies to utility companies – your electricity and gas cannot be cut off in the winter no matter how badly you are in arrears.

Of course that doesn’t mean you are safe forever, because landlords can and will evict you once the truce ends on March 31st, so we’re not advising people to stop paying over the winter.

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The winter truce was extended in 2020 because of the financial hardship caused to many by Covid lockdowns, but the 2021 winter truce began on its usual date of November 1st and will run – barring unforeseen circumstances – until March 31st 2022.

The law is not without its critics – landlords don’t like it for obvious reasons. And in France not all landlords are wealthy, many people inherit property and for some older people the rental income from a property they have inherited is a vital supplement to their pension.

And housing charities say it acts as a ‘sticking plaster’ rather than addressing the real issues of why people get into arrears in the first place or putting in place better financial support for less well off people.

But in general, the rights of tenants are better protected in France than in many other countries. Read more about your rights while renting here.

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