Under the rules of the trêve hivernale (winter truce) tenants in France who fall into rent arrears cannot be evicted in winter. Likewise, a tenant’s electricity and gas cannot be cut off in the winter no matter how badly they are in arrears.
The trêve hivernale usually runs from October to April, but for the past two years it has been extended.
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The 2020/21 trêve comes to an end on June 1st, with the government extending it in recognition of the fact that the pandemic and repeated lockdowns have caused financial hardship for many.
As legal proceedings against defaulting tenants restart, homeless charity the Abbé Pierre Foundation estimates that 33,000 households – around 66,000 people – run the risk of being evicted this summer.
Housing charities have in the past been critical of the concept of the winter truce, saying that 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.
Meanwhile 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.
But despite the criticism, the trêve hivernale is a crucial part of the legal landscape and one of many protections that tenants in France enjoy.
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