Detained for trying to evict squatters – video

Intruders broke into and occupied a house where a man lived with his mother. They claimed they were the owners while the real owner continued to pay the bills. The rightful owner has repeatedly asked for police help in vain, so a team organised on social media came to his assistance. Eventually, however, police ended up arresting them, instead of the squatters.

WORLD JANUARY 18. 2022 17:48

France witnessed yet another shocking case involving some squatters, or unlawful property intruders, this time in the town of Bobigny in Seine-Saint-Denis department, near the capital Paris. Intruders have unlawfully occupied a house where a man was living with his mom, placed under guardianship because of her severe depression. The squatters forced the lock open to enter the apartment on 1 November 2021, the owner said. When the door was all torn down, Youssef, the owner, and his mother tried to stop the intruders but eventually they managed to occupy the property. The owner continues to pay the bills he receives but is unable to enter his apartment. He showed reporters from CNews the damage done to the place by the intruders, who smashed up nearly everything.

According to an article published by Le Figaro, the house was unlawfully occupied by two men, a women and their pitbull. One of the men claimed to have paid 3500 euros in exchange for the lodging and refused to leave unless the owner repaid the amount. Meanwhile, all the belongings of Youssef, the rightful owner, had been thrown out.

In the article, Le Figaro highlighted that the owner had repeatedly asked for police help to evict the squatters, but not much has happened. Upon seeing the arriving officers, the intruders always fled, only to return shortly afterwards, and the ordeal would continue. Eventually, it was the online community to rush to the owner’s help. After seeing a report on CNews and reading Le Figaro’s article, people on various social media platforms began to organise help for the man forced out of his apartment, with many deciding to pay a personal visit and take action on the spot.

After a while, police also arrived at the scene. However, it wasn’t the squatters but the members of the team helping the owner whom the officers took into custody.

According to Le Figaro, the group used no violence against the unlawful occupiers, because they also brought along a young child around the age of three. Many eyewitnesses find it strange that the police intervened into a peaceful eviction process which appeared on track to being finally resolved.

Police detained 23 people on the scene, the prosecution said, adding that although no physical violence was used, the fact that the helpers had called at the apartment in the middle of the night and threatened to evict the occupiers into the harsh winter street is seen as an indication of psychological violence. The prosecution also pointed out that it is unclear whether the people in the apartment had indeed occupied the place illegally, or if they were tenants, stressing that evictions must comply with proper legal procedures.

However, evicting squatters is a rather lengthy and complicated procedure, and similar cases from the past have shown that French law tends to prefer and protect the unlawful occupiers, rather than the rightful property owners.

Squatters cannot be forced to leave a property, legal action is needed.

The incident must first be reported to the police or gendarmerie, and the owners must prove that the property is theirs, with utility bills or a statement issued and signed by their neighbours. The owners must then request the prefect to call on the squatters to vacate their property. Squatters have 24 hours from receiving the prefect’s warning. If they fail or refuse to comply, an eviction application must be submitted to a court. This is followed by a lengthy legal procedure, in which the landlord is advised to hire a lawyer and prove repeatedly that he or she is the owner of the occupied property, and that it is occupied by squatters. For this, it is advisable to hire a bailiff who visits the scene to observe the occupiers and then identifies at least one of them at the court hearing. After the verdict, the squatters have one month to vacate the property. If this does not happen, the bailiff issues a warrant, executable immediately. If the squatters still refuse to leave, the bailiff must turn to the prefect for help with the eviction.

Thus it appears that the law protects the squatters’ rights, rather than those of the owners, something a retired couple has experienced first-hand. The pair’s holiday home on the shore of the Mediterranean has been occupied and damaged by arbitrary intruders. The elderly man told their story with tears in his eyes: a family had occupied their property in their absence, replaced the lock and also made threats to them, the owners. The man turned to the authorities, but the gendarmerie’s response was that they could do nothing because it was a holiday home, not the owners’ permanent place of residence. In such a case, if the unlawful occupiers remain in posession of the property for over 48 hours, police cannot intervene and the legal procedure described above must be observed.

It is, however, not the only outrageous case the country has witnessed. In the spring of 2020, during the first wave of the coronavirus epidemic, migrants occupied the flat of a female university student in Rennes. They noticed that the place was empty, as the girl had traveled back to the countryside to stay with her parents during lockdown. The unlawful intruders have caused extensive damage and also stole from the apartment: all the furniture and the girl’s computer were gone, just like her notes from university.

Unfortunately, attempts to evict squatters sometimes lead to violence. In Argenteuil, near Paris, two men decided to recover their apartment occupied for a year by 40-year-old homeless migrant Hassan S., who had been in the country illegally, Le Parisien reported. The owners rang the bell of the flat, but the drunken squatter would not let them in. He refused to leave the flat and hand over the keys, and even began arguing with the owners. The argument culminated in a brawl, during which the migrant stabbed one of the men in the chest with a knife. The victim was hospitalised with serious injuries. The assailant was sentenced to 12 months in prison and expelled from the country for a period of 10 years.




france, law, squatted house