Written by Erin Harding,
2nd November 2021

As of November 1, France’s annual ‘winter truce’, or trêve hivernale, started and will continue until March 31. But what is it and how does it impact property buyers?

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What is the winter truce?

France’s annual ‘winter truce’ makes it illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant during this period, including for reasons such as falling into rent arrears. Similarly, it is illegal for landlords to cut off gas and electricity, even in the case of unpaid bills

A landlord can go to court if the rent is not paid, but the tenant will only be evicted at the end of the five-month truce.

Why was the winter truce introduced?

The truce has been in French law since 2014, and in 2017 it was also extended to those living in slums and shelters. It is a humanitarian measure to stop individuals and families from becoming homeless during the winter. However, squatters are not protected by it.

For the last two years, the truce has been extended due to the pandemic, however, there is no word yet about whether it will be extended beyond the end of March in 2022. A 30% reduction in the housing tax has also been applied for the 20% of the population who are liable to it.

Could this affect you when you move to France?

If you are looking to invest and rent out a property over the winter months in France, it’s important to be aware of the winter truce. Although an essential measure for struggling tenants, it can be frustrating for landlords, who may themselves be struggling financially. Equally, the stress of dealing with problematic tenants could be heightened during this period.

Equally, if you are planning to rent a property in France, it is also worth recognising that the winter truce is in place. Whilst you won’t be evicted from November to March, it’s worth remembering that your landlord could take action at the end of this period if there have been any missing payments.

Could the winter truce be extended again?

The winter truce was extended until July 2020 and until June 2021, so could this happen again in 2022?

It was previously extended due to financial hardship inflicted on low-income families and individuals due to the pandemic. If case numbers increase over winter and France re-introduces restrictions on the economy, then it could be extended again. Similarly, soaring gas prices could have a bearing on this. However, there is no indication at the moment that the period will be extended beyond March 2022.

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