Should vacant housing be requisitioned?

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Today, out of 100 dwellings, 8 are vacant, according to INSEE, which estimated the number of vacant dwellings in France at 3.08 million in 2021. This considerable number is only increasing, since in 1945 there were only than 620,000 empty residential premises. “The growth of vacancyhas especially taken off since 2006, with the rise in real estate prices”, considers Jean-Baptiste Eyraud, spokesman for the Right to Housing (DAL) association.

However, of these 3 million vacant dwellings, “a number are located in areas where there is little need, others are unsanitary and still others are empty waiting to be rented or sold”, recalls Christophe Robert, general delegate of the Abbé-Pierre Foundation. A study by the Ministry of Housing published in 2016 estimates that 137,000 housing units can be mobilized in tight areas and, among them, 103,000 those that were directly habitable. “It puts the figure into perspective, but it’s still not nothing”, comments Christophe Robert.

Since then, “the State could requisition a certain number of them to house the homeless”, believes Jean-Baptiste Eyraud. His association itself occupies, without a legal framework, empty buildings to house families. An ordinance of October 11, 1945 allows the State to take possession of vacant dwellings to allocate them to poorly housed people, in return for compensation.

“Between 1945 and the end of the Algerian war, there were 110,000 requisitions, then it went downhill, explains Jean-Baptiste Eyraud. In the 1990s, there were also 1,200 requisitions of buildings belonging to banks and insurance companies that were no longer able to sell them. But it stopped. » A new procedure, created in 1998, which was to make it possible to requisition buildings belonging to legal persons to entrust them to assignees (HLM, local authority, etc.) “has to my knowledge never been used”, he points out. Legally, the requisition procedure is indeed delicate.

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Tax on vacant dwellings

“There are cases of requisitions, which are generally rather gymnasium-type premises, in connection with communities, mainly during winter episodes, says the Ministry of Housing. And the state also mobilizes its own buildings, which is a form of operational requisition. But the requisition of individual housing is very rare because other, simpler levers are preferred. »

Created in 1998, the tax on vacant housing for more than a year, not very effective so far, was increased by a third this year. And a zero vacant housing plan was adopted in 2021 to help communities identify vacant housing and support owners to put them back on the market. Rental intermediation, which makes it possible to rent at very low prices, in return for a guarantee against unpaid bills thanks to the support of an association, is one of the ways.

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