“It’s a nightmare”: victim of squatters, Emmanuelle testifies

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Emmanuelle is 50 years old, she is a culinary blogger and lives in Paris, in an apartment of which she is a tenant. She also owns a 17m2 studio, which she rents monthly to individuals.

But in March 2019, his daily life turns to anxiety. She discovers that someone has broken into her property. “The last tenant left on March 13 in the morning, and in the evening someone broke down the door, came in and moved in. It is the agency that manages the rental that warns Emmanuelle. “They explained to me that they had gone to the apartment to clean, but could not return. The locks had already been changed.”

Emmanuelle’s apartment, located in the 9th arrondissement, in the heart of the capital, is the victim of a squat.

A woman in her forties and her toddler have simply taken up residence in her home. And communication is more than difficult. “At first she led us to believe that she was the victim of a fake lease scam, that she had visited the apartment and paid 3 months’ rent in cash.” Of course, there is nothing.

But Emmanuelle still tries to help her. “She had a small baby, so we tried to find a solution for her, the agency offered her to visit another apartment and I offered to help her pay for the first month”. The forties will never come to the meeting. “There, we understood that it was flan”, sighs Emmanuelle. “It’s really disgusting to behave like this.”

For Emmanuelle, it is the beginning of the descent into hell. Because the law does not provide anything to help the owners in the event of a squat.

“I quickly launched an eviction procedure, which lasted several months, from March to November. The judge’s decision eventually fell, she ruled that the person should be deported immediately. At that time, it was necessary to appeal to the prefecture to carry out the judge’s order. But they refused to intervene, under the Dalo law, because it was a single mother with a toddler.

During all this time, Emmanuelle knows that her accommodation is occupied by a stranger, who does not hesitate to do damage. “I was in a lot of trouble, I was really hurt,” the blogger tells us.

Destitute, she hires a private detective. “His investigation revealed that this woman was probably part of a network, and that they practiced it routinely. The person in question had just been evicted from a squat in Epinay-sur-Seine, which she had left the day she moved in with me. She had obtained this accommodation in the rules, by presenting a file with a guarantor, but had never paid rent. Its owner had initiated an eviction procedure, so she knowingly destroyed the apartment to have it declared unsanitary and to be able to continue to legally squat it. Emmanuelle explains that she tried, in the same way, to make her studio in the 9th unsanitary, without success. “Everything had been refurbished, but they damaged the place a lot”.

They are also the companions and the multiple frequentations of this “squatter”, who constantly gravitate around the apartment. So much so that for many months, Emmanuelle no longer dares to go there to try to establish a dialogue. “She was never alone, there were always sinister guys around her, I was scared. They scared me, and rightly so: the private detective discovered behind all this a network of drug and arms trafficking, prostitution…” reports Emmanuelle.

These squatters are “extremely virulent, violent” with the owner. When she goes to the scene, in an umpteenth attempt to convince them to leave, they threaten to call the police. “They were shouting at me to leave, that they were at home, they knew they were within their rights”, she is indignant. More and more uncomfortable, Emmanuelle, who feels in danger, returns there as little as possible.

And she worries more and more, because the social services, which took charge of the file in the face of the refusal of the prefecture to dislodge the intruders, are not very optimistic. “They told me it could take 10 years before they find social housing for my squatter.”

Months pass, and Emmanuelle’s financial situation becomes more complicated. “Without this rental income, I could no longer pay my own rent. In turn, I was the subject of an eviction procedure. I then started to contact all the media, to alert on this completely delusional situation”.

His story is relayed in several newspapers, and even on TV, and attracts the attention of the Ministry of Housing. “They contacted me, and proceeded with the eviction. They relocated the woman to a hotel! Whereas before, she was untouchable, and there, as soon as the minister is interested in it, they find an express solution”, is surprised the blogger.

In January 2021, she finally gets her studio back. But even if the squatters have left the premises, the nightmare is far from over for Emmanuelle.

Already, upon entering her apartment for the first time in two years, she sees the damage. The apartment is in poor condition. There is work for 10,000 euros, in only 17 square meters. “Fortunately, I was able to count on the kindness and solidarity of the people, who helped me fix the place,” explains the fifty-year-old.

Above all, Emmanuelle struggles to feel safe again. “I find it very difficult to trust my new tenants, I worry about the first late payment”.

“The squatter owes me 24,000 euros in occupancy compensation today. Except that she declared herself in over-indebtedness, and the commission purely and simply erased a large part of her debts. I have to sit on 20,000 euros, and everyone thinks that’s normal”.

The scandal, for Emmanuelle, does not stop there. Driven by rent arrears, she asks for help, which is refused. “I’m ‘too rich’ apparently, because I’m a landlord. But my squatter has a better standard of living than me!” she says.

According to Emmanuelle, this woman, who had a stable job at the time of the events, received 1,200 euros in salary, 600 euros in aid and 200 euros in alimony, with “zero charges”. A total income that would certainly have allowed him to rent an apartment on his own.

“But she didn’t want to go live in the suburbs! It’s so unfair, she has come before people who are honest and struggle every day in transport for 2 hours.

Worse still, during the criminal trial that Emmanuelle brought against her squatter, for “theft” and “degradation” she discovered that the person concerned was a repeat offender. “She had been sentenced to one month in prison for the same facts a few years ago. She actually rages under three different identities, all on file for theft.”

During the hearing, the 50-year-old also learns that the respondent is undergoing training to become a life assistant. “She will therefore end up with dependent people, whom she will be able to strip without difficulty”, Emmanuelle is indignant.

At the end of the debates, she was nevertheless released. “In the name of a second chance, we do not prevent it from harming again, and even, we almost encourage it. It’s outrageous”, fulminates the blogger.

Today, Emmanuelle testifies for alert r. The squat does not only happen to others: “many owners are victims of it, and the law is made in such a way that squatters have all the rights. This situation can happen to anyone, imagine that you go on vacation, and when you come back, someone has come home… Well, there is nothing you can do.”

Two and a half years after the eviction of her squatters, Emmanuelle still has to struggle with the administration and the long list of bills she still has to pay. “It’s a nightmare. it still ruins my existence today”, she explains. She estimates that she still has “4 or 5 years” before finally getting rid of this thorny problem.