In terms of rental property, the legislation obliges the tenant to pay his rent and his charges on the date stipulated in the lease. The occurrence of an exceptional situation such as a health emergency due to covid-19 does not exclude compliance with this provision. If you are wondering how to manage unpaid rents during covid-19, know that there are legal tools that frame the relationship between tenants and landlords.
What are the procedures for unpaid rents?
The current health crisis has generated a lot of uncertainty in real estate, mainly for the owner and the unpaid rent procedure for his tenants. However, concerning the rental of a dwelling, apartment or store, French law has not introduced any provision modifying the liability of these. The tenant has the possibility of relying on certain legal provisions in the event that he has not honored his rents.
Article 1218 of the Civil Code allows it, for example, to invoke force majeure to free itself from contractual obligations. The ban on activities and the confinement imposed by the public authorities would then constitute potential arguments before the judge. Article 1195 of the Civil Code could also be used by the tenant to invoke the reason for the vagueness if a dispute arises with his lessor.
In both situations, the interested party could request a deferral of rents and a rescheduling of the repayment of the sums due. The law of 14 November 2020 on the extension of the health emergency also reinforces these two issues in its article 14. Better still, it authorizes the suspension of proceedings against faulty tenants.
The Departmental Commission of Over-indebtedness is also a potential recourse for tenants. Law specialists recommend that owners also favor an amicable settlement.
How to find common ground with government aid?
A set of assistance measures has been put in place by the French authorities to facilitate agreements between owners and tenants in default. They can, for example, access financial aid from Action Logement. This support will allow them to honor their rents for 6 months to the tune of 150 euros / month.
At the departmental level, the FSL Housing Solidarity Fund is also empowered to provide support to tenants experiencing bad debts. However, to enter into the FSL’s assistance system, it is necessary to take the appropriate steps, for example by contacting the Departmental agency for information on Housing Adil.
Other public structures also serve as an access route to the FSL, such as communal social assistance centers located in town halls. The government has also recently created the Observatory of Unpaid Rents and Charges to look into the issue. Its mission is to provide assistance to tenants to help resolve disputes related to unpaid bills.