The owners of a studio-type apartment in Paris went to court to force their tenant to pay four months of outstanding rent, only to be told that the rental was illegal because the flat was too small.
The court will now rule on a petition by the tenant’s lawyer for the owners to pay him 20,000 euros (US$25,800) compensation for “moral damages”, the Telegraph reported on Friday.
They had been charging 410 euros a month for the six-square-meter flat. Under French law, however, rented accommodation must measure at least nine square meters (96 square feet), according to the newspaper.
“This is as if a drug dealer was suing his customers because they hadn’t paid for their dope,” lawyer Aurélie Geoffroy, who is representing the tenant, Ahmed El Yamani, told the court.
After the landlords sued El Yamani, the court appointed an assessor to inspect the premises. The assessor came back with a report that the flat was “unsuitable for human habitation” and likely to “damage the health” of occupants.
Michel Tournois, the landlords’ lawyer, said his clients acted “in good faith”.
“They believed that the room really measured nine square metres,” he said, adding that the tenant may have “piled up his things so that it appeared smaller to the assessor”.
News website 20 Minutes sent a reporter to inspect the flat, located on the top floor of a posh building in a chic Parisian neighborhood. The reporter said the room had dilapidated walls, some of which have sharp edges, and the shower was too small to stand up in.
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