They are receiving a “degrading” treatment
France: Trial of apartment landlords who exploited Moroccan immigrants

Immigrants in France suffer from difficulties in obtaining housing, as they are exposed to the worst types of exploitation by landlords, who force them to live in “inhumane” homes.

The trial of real estate dealers who rented apartments in unsanitary and “degrading” conditions and at high prices to immigrants who recently arrived in France, most of whom are Moroccan, began in the city of Montpellier in southern France on Tuesday, September 5.

110 small residential apartments were rented in the “Fon Del Rey” building, ranging in size from 24 to 44 square meters, distributed over seven floors, in the Mouson area in the city of Montpellier overlooking the Mediterranean Sea in southern France.

Marion Percell, director of the “Habiter Enfin” association, testified in court, on behalf of the civil party represented by the city’s mayor, saying, “The elderly men and families, they are all Moroccans. They are in a precarious situation, they do not speak French, they have no knowledge of their rights, and they pay their rent in cash every month.”

The rent for one apartment ranged from 500 to 650 euros per month in the center of Montpellier, the seventh-largest city in France. According to the “InfoMigrants” website.

The city’s cleaning services assessed that most of the apartments are “unsanitary” and “uninhabitable”, and that their common areas are in a deplorable condition, as there is mold, bugs, cockroaches, water leaks, and electrical cables that expose the residents to danger, in addition to iron bars that do not provide protection and emergency exits that are not accessible.

Three landlords and four companies are being prosecuted in the case on charges of “subjecting vulnerable or dependent persons to housing conditions incompatible with human dignity,” “putting the lives of others in danger,” and “exercising threats and intimidation to force residents to give up their rights.”

One of the tenants said, “As soon as I requested repairs to the apartment, I had to pay in advance, so they could look at the problem and then pay more, so they could tell the landlord.”

Tenants who appeared in court also testified that they paid amounts ranging between 1,500 and 1,800 euros to this man just to view a rental apartment.

Sylvie Chamvoux, regional director of the Abbey Pierre Foundation, explained that 67% of tenants suffer from a health condition or disability.

Housing is one of the major challenges for irregular migrants, as many of them live on the street and others sleep in hospitals, while families with children are hosted in emergency shelters. Some resort to renting small rooms and sharing them with 4 or more people.

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