Legal recourse

You have not been able to gather the evidence required to lodge a complaint or the prefect has refused your request: you will have to resort to legal action to try to obtain the eviction of the illegal occupants of your property and/or obtain an order to pay compensation for the occupation of the premises.

Article L 411-1 of the Code of Civil Enforcement Procedures provides that: “Unless there is a special provision, eviction or removal from a building or inhabited place can only be carried out by virtue of a court decision or an enforceable conciliation report and after service of a summons to vacate the premises.

This is therefore a legal decision that will allow the use of the police to forcibly evict the squatters. This solution is obviously to be preferred to eviction by your own means, which is punishable by three years’ imprisonment and a fine of 30,000 euros (article 226-4-2 du Code pénal).

No one is allowed to take the law into their own hands. The squatters could also be dangerous and armed.

Moreover, surprising as it may seem, the occupants of your squatted residence may even bring a complaint against you! This is the case if there is violence for example, the squatters can file a complaint for trespassing and you will incur a heavier criminal sanction than even the occupants.

It is therefore very important to follow the procedures to legally evict the occupants of your home.

The procedure to follow

The mandatory steps

You will hire a lawyer who will refer the matter to the judge in charge of protection disputes at the territorially competent judicial court (formerly the district court).

You should also :

  • prove that the accommodation belongs to you (title deed, tax documents, bills, etc.).
  • prove that the accommodation is squatted. To do this, it is advisable to instruct a judicial commissioner (formerly known as a bailiff) to go to the premises to draw up a report;

Next, you will need to collect the identity of the occupants of the property. It may be sufficient to identify just one of them. This step is essential. Indeed, in civil matters, you cannot summon a person “X”.

Collect the identity of the occupants of the property

Start by asking your neighbours, the caretaker of the building … anyone who might know the identity of your squatters. You can also take down names from your letterbox. If these simple solutions do not work, you can call in a bailiff who will go to the premises to question the squatters and note their identity. A summons is the act by which a bailiff directly summons a designated recipient (in this case the squatters), asking them various questions, and collects their answers and observations.

The answers provided by your opponent will then be enforceable against him, particularly in court.

The exceptional procedure on request

Where no sufficient evidence on the identity of the squatters can be collected, you will have to resort to the so-called application procedure. This procedure is provided for in Articles 493 to 498 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

A period of 1 month after service

Squatters must be informed of the judge’s judgment by means of service, which is an act by which a party informs his opponent of a legal act or decision through a bailiff.

If the squatters do not leave the dwelling within one month of being served with the notice, a court commissioner must issue a summons to leave. The squatters will then have to leave the dwelling without further delay.

After an order to vacate, squatters must leave the dwelling without any further delay.

In the event that the squatters remain in the dwelling, the commissioner of justice will ask the prefect for the assistance of the public force to evict them from the occupied premises.

The winter break does not apply.

In practice, it happens that the prefect refuses to grant the assistance of the police force: presence of young children or elderly people among the squatters.

As for compensation for the damage suffered (deprivation of use of your property, of the ability to sell it, or deprivation of rent), it remains very uncertain. Indeed, you should know that in the vast majority of cases, the occupants are not solvent. You therefore risk having to finance the restoration of an often dilapidated property from your own funds.