US News: illegally occupied housing: the owners remain responsible in the event of a lack of maintenance

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A lessor was ordered to compensate an occupant of his apartment victim of an accident after the breaking of the railing of a balcony.


The owners of a housing can be held responsible for the accident with which the person who illegally occupies their property is victim? This paradoxical question arose about the following case: on August 3, 2012, Ms. Z, occupying without right to accommodation on the first floor of a building, relies on the railing of The kitchen window.

He is unstopping and leads him into his fall, so that she is seriously injured. In 2013, she assigned Mr. and Ms. X, owners of the apartment, as well as the company responsible for its management, so that they are ordered to compensate him for his damages (60,000 euros, immediately).

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Real estate: defenestration and fault ... of the

window of technical reports which made it possible to establish that the accident is attributable to poor maintenance of the railing (whose irons have been damaged by corrosion), and not to a bad State of the facade, the magistrates responsible for the case judge the X responsible for them: article 1386 (former) of the civil code says that "the owner of a building is responsible for the damage caused by his ruin, when She arrived by a series of maintenance. ” The judges also criticize the company for not having carried out the necessary checks, and for not advising their customers for taking specific insurance. They condemn the X and the company to compensate jointly and jointly and jointly Mrs. Z.

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Thief or Squatter

It is in vain that the latter maintain that the victim "committed a fault", having played a "causal role in the realization of the damage": Indeed, they explain, she did not leave the premises, as she should have, on March 10, 2010, after a leave had been served to her, after a litigation linked to a water damage .

Now, if she had done so, "she would not have been the victim of the accident," they say. The Paris Court of Appeal disputes, on September 10, 2019, that there was a fault, insofar as the owners "tolerated" the occupation which lasted two years - during which Mrs. X continued to pay them Each month the equivalent of rent.

Before the Court of Cassation, the X maintained that, even "tolerated" by them, this occupation was nonetheless a "fault", supposed to exempt them from their responsibility.

However, the victim's fault is only exempt from responsibility if he has a "direct" causal relationship with damage. What judges the Court, September 15 (2022, 19-26.249), is not the case, since it is the lack of maintenance of the safeguard which directly caused the accident. "The occupation without law or title of real estate by the victim cannot constitute a fault likely to exempt the owner of the building under his responsibility, when it is established that the accident suffered by the latter results from the Failure to maintain the building, ”she judges, rejecting the appeal of the X.

, it does not matter that the person supported by the failing railing was holder of the lease or not, whether it was a neighbor , a thief or a squatter: the judgment, severe for the owners, implies that they continue to maintain their accommodation ... even if it is not the subject of any rental in good and due form.

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