Housing: rent control, a left-wing marker today demanded by right-wing elected officials


The Marseille waterfront, September 2, 2021.

Cécile Duflot remembers “posters with (her) head in the real estate agencies of the Fnaim”. In 2013, Minister (Europe Ecology-The Greens) of housing, she defended before parliamentarians the ceiling on rents, included in her bill Access to housing and renovated urban planning (ALUR), to counter their surge in metropolises. In the National Assembly, the right ignites against a “infringement of freedom of contract”.

The President of the Republic, François Hollande, who had nevertheless made this regulatory measure a campaign commitment, himself seems to have hesitated in the face of the obstacle. In the Council of Ministers, the Head of State would have declared: “Is rent control really a good thing? »says Cécile Duflot in her book From the inside: Journey to the land of disillusion (Fayard, 2014).

Ten years have passed and times have changed. Today, faced with the housing crisis in tense areas, it is local elected officials labeled on the right who are asking to regulate rents. As in Annemasse (Haute-Savoie). First step: the agglomeration voted, in September 2022, the creation of a rent observatory, with its neighbors Thonon Agglomeration and Greater Annecy. “There had been a reflection on the subject in 2019, but the measure was perceived as essentially ideological, and that bothered real estate lobbies, owners, elected officialsestimates Gabriel Doublet, president of Annemasse Agglo, ex-Union of the democrats and independents (UDI) passed in Horizons, the party of Edouard Philippe. But housing has become the number one problem in the territory. Appearance ideology has been evacuated: we went around the table again a few months ago and everyone had evolved. » Two months later, in November 2022, the elected representative from Haute-Savoie applied for the system with the Ministry of Housing, to implement rent control. He would like to start ” as soon as possible “.

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Glued to Switzerland, Annemasse lives in the shadow of Geneva, hyperattractive for cross-border workers on the French side, with its minimum wage at 4,400 euros. Consequence: landlords rent at exorbitant prices, based on the purchasing power of “commuters” who leave every morning to work on the Swiss side. The median rent in the conurbation has become one of the highest in French cities, behind Paris and Nice-Côte d’Azur.

The territory also attracting workers in difficulty from all over France, eager to try their luck on the other side of the border, sleep merchants have rushed into the breach. “El Dorado is not for everyone, not everyone gets a job in Switzerland”we warn at the headquarters of Annemasse Agglo, which assesses the share of households excluded from the private rental market at 30%.

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