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Squatters in Paris - need honest assessment of the risk


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Hello to everyone! This is my first post here, and I've done a ton of reading just from the information found in the forums. What a great place! Here's my reason for the new post:

I'm currently an attorney in the USA, and am considering purchasing a Paris apartment of moderate cost (250-350,000 euros). I get to Paris about 1 month in total every year, and would like my own place along with something that I can let close family use should they decide to travel there.

So, for arguments sake, let's say the apartment is used only one month out of the year. I've heard horror stories about people not being able to get squatters out of their property. In all seriousness, if I properly secure my place, is there a risk of someone attempting to inhabit it? If someone has broken into your place and lived there for a couple of months, are they not burglars first and squatters second?

Would it perhaps even make sense to let a vacation rental company rent it out, to see that it was properly taken care of? I understand that many rental firms will only rent to non-French in order to curb the possibility that someone will decide to "extend their stay."

Let me know your thoughts on this. I find this topic somewhat disheartening, but very interesting. It's such a departure from American/British property law. Thank you for all of your help!
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Whereabouts are you planning on buying an apartment?  As a former Paris resident, I would be most surprised if the building didn't come with a concierge - offhand I can't think of ever having been in one that doesn't.  Obviously, they vary in their reliability but all the ones I've ever encountered were pretty fearsome when it came to letting people in and even bona vide visitors got a tough grilling.  Also, in the better areas most buildings have a digicode entry system by way of security, in addition to the concierge and the notoriously nosey (though invariably charming)  neighbours. 

I don't know anyone who left their place empty for the length of period of time you propose but we had some friends (also Americans) who were gone for several months at a time (as were we  towards the end of our stay) and security was never an issue.  To be honest, I spent a lot of time alone in Paris as my husband was travelling on business a great deal and as a lone (and slightly wary) female, never had a moment's worry even at night.  I felt incredibly secure.  Note:  there are these wonderful locks that you can put on the front door with a sort of bar that slips in to a hole in to the ground.  I'm not describing them terribly well but, believe me, they secure a door stronger than Fort Knox.  They're very common, check them out in the hardware dept in the basement of BHV.  (Tho' you'll need to have them professionally installed.)

You may consider purchasing a place on an upper floor but note that balconies or roof terraces, although fabulous, could tempt cat burglars.  (Perhaps I shouldn't have watched "To Catch A Thief" last night!)  Finally, get good insurance and make sure you tell your insurers how long you're going to be absent for as they'll need to know in order to calculate your premium.

If you want any further tips, feel free to e mail me privately.






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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you for the great response. It answered my question the best that it can probably be answered at this point - until I get a better handle on what exactly I want to do. I'm at least a few years away from doing this, but if it's going to get done...naturally I need to start putting finances in the right places now. This squatter issue is definitely something I'll have to think about when I decide on how long I will leave it vacant. As I mentioned, I may consider letting a vacation company lease it to foreigners for a while. Then it's looked after, I get rental income, and it's being rented by people who aren't inclined to squat.

Anyhow, the area that I'm most interested in is in the northern part of the 14th arr. I spent a few months in an apartment near Metro: Pernety, and loved the neighborhood, people, and the view of the Eiffel Tower and la Tour Montparnasse. It seemed to be very family oriented, safe, and devoid of tourists. The building I was in didn't have a concierge, but it had a digicode, and my apartment had a huge steel fire door. Very safe and quiet.

Thanks for contributing your experiences. Everyone's story gives me something else to think about. I'm determined to get this done in the next few years, or at the latest by 2012...if Paris gets the Olympics. I'm horribly single-minded when it comes to vacations. I just keep coming to Paris and the Ile-de-France. Might as well give myself and family a permanent place to stay while we're here.

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