When buildings threaten the health or safety of occupants, local authorities must intervene.


IStock / City Presse

The dramatic building collapses that occurred in Marseille at the end of 2018 are only an illustration of a much larger reality.

Because France has between 450,000 and 600,000 unworthy housing, according to figures from the government or the Abbé-Pierre Foundation.

In the lot, however, not all are at the same level of dilapidation.

From indecency to indignity

All accommodation must meet the criteria of decency, that is to say minimum characteristics of comfort, equipment, health and safety.

But some are far from the mark.

Roof not waterproof, windows in poor condition, main room too small (less than 9 m2), lack of drinking water supply, not to mention an inoperative kitchen area or the absence of an operational heating installation, legal court disputes (fruit of the merger of the district and district courts in 2020) are full of cases of poor housing.

Beyond a certain stage, we speak of undignified habitat.

The legislator gives a very precise definition of this situation by designating "premises used for residential purposes and unsuitable by nature for this use, as well as accommodation whose condition, or that of the building in which they are located, exposes the occupants to obvious risks that could endanger their physical safety or their health ”.

Special procedures are then planned to put an end to these intolerable living conditions.

A matter of health

The state of deterioration of the accommodation can have consequences on the health of the occupants.

We then speak of unsanitary housing.

This happens for example when the presence of lead or asbestos has been observed, when there is a risk of fire or when gas equipment or building structures such as foundations, walls or floors are damaged. heavily degraded.

Once alerted to the situation, the municipality transmits the file to the competent hygiene services, so that they carry out a report on the spot to see if the house is indeed in an unsanitary state.

If so, the prefect then has the obligation to issue an insalubrity order that can be remedied (if certain work is sufficient to remedy the situation) or irremediable (if reconstruction is the only possible option).

Safety at stake

Unworthy housing can also represent a real danger for the safety of residents but also of passers-by.

This is the case when there is a risk of part of the building collapsing, whether it is a wall, floor, roof, balconies or even a gutter.

Same problem with the guardrails and unsealed stair treads or with a cracked chimney stump.

As soon as the solidity of the building or some of its elements is reached and there is a risk for the safety of persons, the mayor must use his police powers to issue an ordinary peril order.

If he suspects an imminent danger, he must first apply to the administrative court, so that an expert can draw up a report on the basis of which an order of imminent danger will be taken.

In all cases, and logically, a temporary or definitive ban on living in the premises will require landlords to relocate tenants while the necessary work is being carried out.

In the event of non-performance, the city will take care of it, before sending the invoice to the principals concerned.


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Which address ?

  • A private process: if your landlord does not want to carry out the necessary work, you can apply to the Departmental Conciliation Commission, a court conciliator or the judicial tribunal.

    Also warn the CAF, which can deprive the lessor of housing assistance.

  • The administrative process: anyone can report the state of disrepair of a property to the town hall, which must ensure the reality of the facts and take, if necessary, an order of insalubrity or danger.

    The occupants will then no longer have to pay rent as of the month following the posting of the order.

  • Bad housing

  • Danger

  • Heater

  • Precarious

  • Housing

  • Rental