Version updated on 15 May 2020
Passed by the French government pursuant to the emergency law to deal with the Covid-19 epidemic, Ordinance no. 2020-331 of 25 March 2020 (the “Ordinance”) is part of the provisions aimed at dealing with the social consequences of the current health crisis. Its initial purpose was to extend the winter ban period on tenant evictions – the "winter truce” – by two months, i.e. up to 31 May 2020. However, Article 10 of Law No. 2020-546 of 11 May 2020 extending the state of public health emergency in France (the "Extension Law") itself extended the winter truce until 10 July 2020.
CONSEQUENCES ON THE EXTENSION OF THE WINTER BAN ON TENANT EVICTIONS
The “winter truce” is the period during which “any measure of tenant eviction is suspended between 1 November of each year and 31 March of the following year”, and this, “including if such measure is taken in application of a final court order on the eviction in question”.
In other words, this is a period during which no person or family may be evicted from his/her/their place of residence of which he/she/they is a tenant/are tenants, even if ordered by a court decision. This period, which starts on 1 November and in principle ends on 31 March of the following year, has thus been extended to 10 July as an exceptional measure for 2020 only.
It must be recalled that the law provides for two exceptions to the tenant eviction truce during the winter season, which are of course not modified by the Ordinance: first, there is the case where “the concerned individuals’ re-lodging is guaranteed in conditions that ensure the family’s unity and needs”; second, there is the case of “individuals who entered the premises illegally and whose eviction has been ordered” (the case of “squatters”).
The "winter truce" is extended by four months in French overseas departments and regions, as well as in Wallis-and-Futuna, and by two months only in Saint-Martin, Saint-Barthélémy and Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon. In these latter areas, the period chosen as the "winter truce" is set by the competent prefects owing to specific climate conditions.
CONSEQUENCES ON UTILITY SERVICE SHUT-OFFS
Also with a view to dealing with the social consequences of the current health crisis, this Ordinance and the Extension Law extend up to 10 July 2020, as an exceptional measure for 2020 only, the period (which, in principle, runs from 1 November of each year to 31 March of the following year) during which “electricity, heating and gas suppliers cannot shut off the supply of electricity, heating or gas to persons or families in their main place of residence, including by terminating the contract, due to unpaid utility bills” .
However, it must be noted, on the one hand, that electricity suppliers do nonetheless have the possibility to lower the amount of electricity supplied, unless the consumers benefit from an energy allowance (“chèque énergie”), and, on the other hand, that water suppliers are prohibited all year long from cutting off the water provision to delinquent payers. The Ordinance does not amend these provisions.
 Paragraph 1 of Article L.412-6 of the French Code of Civil Enforcement Procedures.
 Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article L.412-6 of French Code of Civil Enforcement Procedures.
 Article L.115-3 of the French Social Action and Family Code.
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This legal update is not intended to be and should not be construed as providing legal advice.
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