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Survival Home in Paris

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For What It’s Worth

June 2023

There’s something happening here
But what it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it’s time we stop
Children, what’s that sound? 
Everybody look, what’s going down?
There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
It’s time we stop
Hey, what’s that sound? 
Everybody look, what’s going down? 
What a field day for the heat (Ooh ooh ooh) 
A thousand people in the street (Ooh ooh ooh) 
Singing songs and they carrying signs (Ooh ooh ooh) 
Mostly say, “Hooray for our side” (Ooh ooh ooh) 
It’s time we stop
Hey, what’s that sound? 
Everybody look, what’s going down? 
Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
Step out of line, the men come and take you away
We better stop
Hey, what’s that sound? 
Everybody look, what’s going down? 
You better stop
Hey, what’s that sound? 
Everybody look, what’s going down? 
You better stop
Now, what’s that sound? 
Everybody look, what’s going down? 
You better stop
Children, what’s that sound? 
Everybody look, what’s going down? 

“For What It’s Worth (Stop, Hey What’s That Sound)” (often referred to as simply “For What It’s Worth”) is a song written by Stephen Stills. Performed by Buffalo Springfield, it was recorded on December 5th, 1966.

I believe that I heard this song for the first time played by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and discovered Buffalo Springfield much later.

Clearly, I really liked the reference to the noise heard. It is obvious to me that there are a lot of things in common between the Civil Rights era and what is happening today in the USA when it comes to demonstrating, political gatherings, divisiveness and so on.

More generally, immigrants frequently experience frustration and discouragement for all kinds of reasons. Lack of security, including just the feeling that bad things could happen, is widespread. To be able to help them, I usually need to debunk their fears about a lot of things, such as being deported.

For what it is worth! At one point, one has to say that it was worth it. It meant going after dreams, personal goals. In the eyes of many it might not look like much. For them, it was not worth the effort. “For what it is worth, it was worth it for me.” This is what I like to hear. Immigrants often never regain the social status or comforts that they had in their home country, but many tell me nevertheless that it was worth it. Let’s leave it at that.


A cacerolazo, cacerolada or casserole is a form of popular protest which consists of a group of people making noise by banging pots, pans, and other utensils to call for attention.

The first documented protests of this style occurred in France in the 1830s, at the beginning of the July Monarchy, by opponents of the regime of Louis Philippe I of France. According to the historian Emmanuel Fureix, the protesters took from the tradition of the charivari the use of noise to express disapproval and beat saucepans to make noise against government politicians. This way of showing discontent became popular in 1832, taking place mainly at night and sometimes with the participation of thousands of people.

…One of the largest and most recent cacerolazos occurred in Argentina during 2001, consisting largely of protests and demonstrations by middle-class people who had seen their savings trapped in the so-called corralito (a set of restrictive economic measures that effectively froze all bank accounts, initially as a short-term fix for the massive draining of bank deposits).

Since President Emmanuel Macron’s speech on Monday, April 17th, official outings by government members have been greeted by “casserole concerts.” These demonstrations have been peaceful, with the police keeping demonstrators far away from the visit sites. But the protesters make so much noise that it affects the visit anyway. It is also audible when news outlets cover the events, drawing even more attention to such protests. President Macron’s reactions indicate that this is an effective way to protest, as it diminishes his efforts to get close to people and seem attentive to them by making such visits. It will be interesting how the French government handles this form of demonstration.

Earlier, during more traditional demonstrations on the streets of Paris and other major cities, the police arrested people possessing anything that could be used as a weapon, including scissors, rulers and so on. So far, pots and pans have not been considered potential weapons, thus limiting the actions of the police, as these are considered peaceful demonstrations.

The casserolades are an old tradition in French political life and a type of protest used almost exclusively in Latin countries.

On Wednesday, May 17th, the Paris Court of Appeals upheld the sentence of former president Nicolas Sarkozy in the so-called Bismuth case, involving corruption and influence peddling. The new ruling was more severe than that sought by the prosecutor, who had asked for only a suspended sentence. The former president’s sentence is now three years, of which two are suspended and one will be spent under house arrest with an electronic monitor. He was also banned from politics for three years.

If one were to compare the US and French judicial systems, it might appear that the French system took too long to reach this ruling, especially knowing that the former president will appeal it to the French Supreme Court. The legal proceedings in the case started in 2014.

Mr. Sarkozy is linked to eight other cases that are still pending, and is expected to be charged in some of them. The common sense opinion that I often hear and like quite a lot is that the Bismuth case shows that French democracy worked reasonably well in the past ten years to reach this result. Another comment I have heard is that even though the French judicial system is less independent than the American one, through the years it has shown that it can function fairly independently. I remind my readers that the government nominates all judges, that their careers depend on government decisions and that the prosecution strictly obeys the Garde des Sceaux, the French equivalent of attorney general or justice minister, who in turn obeys the prime minister and president.

The history of Labor Day
On May 1st, 1886, hundreds of thousands of American workers went on strike to demand an eight-hour workday. The unions had begun working toward this demand on May 1st, 1884. The date of May 1st was chosen because it was the first day of the accounting year for many companies.

A bitter victory
After the 1886 strike began, violent clashes broke out. In Chicago, a worker was killed on May 3rd and on the following day in Haymarket Square a bomb killed seven policemen. Eight workers were convicted of murder, of whom four were hanged and another committed suicide in jail. The three survivors were later pardoned due to uncertain evidence.

On May 1st, 1890, French unions commemorated these events by demonstrating in the streets to ask for an eight-hour workday. May 1st became a national holiday in 1948. The day is so protected by French law that any employee who is required to work that day gets three times the normal wage. Over the years, the holiday has been celebrated in various ways but it always ends with people marching down one of the large avenues or boulevards in Paris and most other cities in France.

International Workers’ Day, also known as Labor Day in some countries and often referred to as May Day, is a celebration of laborers and the working classes that is promoted by the international labor movement and occurs every year on 1st May, or the first Monday in May.

Traditionally, 1st May is the date of the European spring festival of May Day. … The 1st May date was chosen by the American Federation of Labor to commemorate a general strike in the United States, which had begun on 1st May 1886 and culminated in the Haymarket affair four days later. The demonstration subsequently became a yearly event.

This year
The French people have a well-deserved reputation for demonstrating often and for what may seem to be futile reasons. The French media, police and unions scrutinize the number of people attending demonstrations to evaluate the unions’ popular support in their efforts to twist the arms of the government and sometimes employers. Therefore, weekly demonstrations, large crowds in the streets and substantial damage by thugs do not shake the government. The current crisis regarding the French presidency has deeper roots, illustrated by the fact that President Macron, not the government as such, is attacked and slandered personally during the demonstrations.

The French title of the American movie Airplane! (known in some countries as Flying High!) has become a common French expression: “Y a-t-il un pilote dans l’avion?” conveys the impression that there is no leadership, that an organization is going astray. I increasingly hear this kind of comment regarding Mr. Macron. Even before May 1st, he was a hated president. His approval rating was just 32% in late May, although that was a slight improvement from earlier in the month.

I hear a lot of people questioning whether he is capable of leading the country when a majority of the French deny him the authority to lead. During his first term, there were also violent demonstrations, notably during the gilets jaunes movement. But few people then felt that there was a vacuum in the French presidency. The president was implementing a policy and had sufficient support, possibly because the policy had some merit.

Many have predicted that if the French government cannot get the legislative job done through negotiation, it will end up in gridlock. I believe we have reached that point.

Ever since the FATCA regulations went into full effect, American citizens have had a hard time opening bank accounts in France and most other countries.

Recently one of my American clients, who is a partner in a French corporation, asked a French expert-comptable (the equivalent of a CPA) which bank that firm worked with. I had explained that French banks’ secrecy rules prevent anybody who is not the client or another signatory on the account, or an authorized member of the French administration, from obtaining account information. But accountants work with their clients’ bank statements, so the French accountant in question mentioned a couple of banks specializing in the small business market.

That advice was exactly right – for a French client. But this client is an American citizen, and the banks mentioned, like all others, evaluate the issues they face, and having American clients is a major one. Being able to tailor services to the needs of small businesses does not really enter their evaluation. The partners in this client’s French corporation are having serious problems opening an account. France’s favorable banking legislation applies exclusively to private individuals residing in France. This means the partners could each open an account following the Banque de France procedure, but the business might not be able to do so.

I see a growing number of Americans organizing their life in France without even opening a French SEPA bank account. Many are so discouraged by what they hear that they do not even try. In the old days, when one went to renew any immigration status at the prefecture, the civil servant asked to see monthly statements from a French bank account. If there were only American ones, the file was not even reviewed until, ideally, the applicant explained their lack of compliance with the law, sometimes writing a letter describing their situation. If such cases were properly handled, with sufficient contrition, the prefecture would give a three-monthrécépissé and a new appointment to submit an updated file, preferably with a couple of French bank statements.

Now that many immigration procedures are completely online, the review is apparently more lenient regarding this matter. It would appear that one can submit three months of American credit card and bank statements showing spending done in France to have the visiteur status renewed. I would take this statement with a grain of salt; it is what is being said in the expat community, but I do not yet have proof. Still, I believe it is possible that several Americans have been able to renew their immigration status this way. The Paris prefecture shows significant leniency toward Americans in such matters. Nevertheless, exercising leniency is not the same as applying a new regulation issued and signed by the proper authority.

I understand why so many are choosing this option. But I still advise everyone to do whatever it takes to get a SEPA bank account, especially now that banks like the Belgium-based Wise Europe and some German online banks are more readily accepting American clients.

I have no intention of advertising for this company. I just hold their debit card and thus, as one of their clients, received the message below. Of course, they are communicating in their own best interest. At the same time, I find it interesting that the message primarily details the obligations French businesses have regardless of size. So here is my translation of it.

We remind you that:
– The use of your American Express Business Card is for business expenses only.
– Your American Express Business Card must be linked to your Business Bank Account.

With your American Express Business Card, your administrative management is simplified:
– Your detailed monthly statement of expenses can be accessed on your computer or tablet, or from your smartphone.
– You can export this data to Excel® in just a few clicks, to facilitate accounting reconciliation.
– Access your expense history for 10 years at no additional cost.

In addition, to simplify the management of your employees’ expense reports, equip them with additional American Express Professional Cards to centralize all their expenses in a single card account. These expenses will then be debited to the company’s bank account.

Depending on the status of your company, you may be required by law to record all your business transactions in a business bank account and thus keep independent accounts.

Reminder, the French tax office requires owners of property located in France to file about the use of each property by the end of June.

Even for non-French residents, the procedure is quite simple, since the tax office has created accounts usingtaxe foncière and taxe d’habitation information. Problems can arise when these taxes are issued to a corporation, such as an SCI or an LLC, which means the private individual who uses the place and owns the corporation is not registered as the owner. There is a 150€ fine per property for defaulting on this obligation.

The first tenant of the Survival Home in Paris moved in on May 5th. This renter exactly fits the profile I had in mind. Their VLS-TS visa request was processed with the rental contract. The initial procedures are done using the rent receipts. So far we have the studio rented through August 2023 with confirmed tenants and I have candidates for a rental after that. It may even be rented until the end of 2023.


The office will be closed for six weeks over the summer holidays, starting on Friday, July 7th, in the evening and reopening on the morning of Monday, August 21st. As always, I will be reachable by email for emergencies and important matters. The service I offer of receiving mail for clients will continue while the office is closed. Of course, Sarah or I will honor prefecture meetings already scheduled, as well as a couple of other engagements.

Best regards,


The key issue here is that French law grants automatic “private life” immigration status to the spouse of someone holding a passeport talent carte de séjour. By getting married in the USA, your spouse acquired that right. The questions now are: 
1) how do you two inform the prefecture of this new situation? 
2) how do you have an American marriage recognized in France to secure this right? And
3) while the visiteur immigration status does not allow any changes for the first two years in France, how does the passeport talent status affect this prohibition?

The first step will seem counterintuitive. Everything is done now through various websites, but nowhere is there a link to change from visiteur to private life status (vie privée et familiale). You must start by choosingpasseport talent and not private life. Once your wife has an account created on the website dealing withpasseport talent, she chooses the specific procedure for spouses. In effect, she submits a completely new file, as if the current one did not exist.
That file contains all your documents proving your immigration status in France and why you deserve this status, including, of course, the marriage license officially translated into French. The authorities will review the request and grant the right to change immigration status. This decision will go to the prefecture and the request to produce the card will be sent to the factory.
The second issue that must be properly addressed is that under the Hague Treaty, since you two were French immigrants at the time of the wedding, it should have been performed in France. However, getting married in France requires a file about as thick and complex as the one for the prefecture. Getting married in the USA is so much simpler and I fully understand your choice. The good news is that the prefecture never holds the fact that you were married in the USA against you and will accept the American marriage license without any problem. The license must be officially translated into French. It is simpler and much cheaper to have it done in France. You can find lists of official translators on numerous websites. The American Embassy mentions a few, or just do a web search using the terms traduction assermentée.
About the third issue, the two-year prohibition needs to be addressed properly. Every time the applicant submits a visiteur immigration status request, it entails a statement under oath that the applicant will not seek the right to work. But the private life (vie privée et familiale) status grants all the rights to work that exist in France, so requesting it can be considered a contravention of the previous oath.
However, the prefecture has a clearly defined hierarchy of the various types of immigration status, in whichvisiteur is the entry-level one while vie privée et familiale and passeport talent are at the top, superseding pretty much everything else. That is why the prefecture gives requests for them such a high level of scrutiny. But because of this hierarchy, the change you want is possible. That also explains why the prefecture wants applicants to start the procedure by opening a passeport talent account even though the spouse will never have that status.

From the Strictly Fiscal Facebook Group:
4. France has a relatively simple set of tests for whether you are tax resident here. An official explanation of these can be found both in English, and French, here:[English][French] These are based on the French tax code:

5. What these say is that if your household is here, you are resident here. But you will also be resident here if your “lieu de séjour principal” is here: “where you live most of the time” or “your main residence”. There is no 183-day rule, though as a matter of convenience the French administration may use this test additionally to show you are resident (that your “lieu de séjour principal” is here) – but quite certainly they do not say that if you’re here for less than 183 days then you are not resident.

6. The tax laws don’t contain further definitions, beyond saying that if you have a substantial professional job in France (paid or unpaid, and no matter where you live) you can also be treated as resident.


I am afraid there are no good solutions allowing you to sell your apartment quickly and safely. Before reviewing the solutions you do have, I would like to explain how such a thing could happen.
Many people think Baron Haussmann, who redesigned Paris, rebuilt the entire city. That is not quite the case, and it is important to understand what actually happened, when, and how. Modern Paris was created at about the same time the Civil War in the USA.
Georges-Eugène Haussmann, commonly known as Baron Haussmann (March 27th, 1809 – January 11th, 1891), was a French official who served as prefect of the Seine (1853–1870), chosen by Emperor Napoléon III to carry out a massive urban renewal program of new boulevards, parks and public works in Paris commonly referred to as Haussmann’s renovation of Paris.

He redesigned the city in two major ways. First, he annexed the small communities around what was then Paris: Auteuil, Passy, Les Batignolles, Montmartre, La Chapelle, La Villette, Belleville, Charonne, Bercy, Vaugirard and Grenelle. Second, he moved to improve safety and sanitation in Paris by rebuilding a large portion of the city in its new limits.
In those days, there was no electricity and the plumbing was rudimentary. Each floor had one toilet shared by the tenants. Over the years, these gradually disappeared as apartments had their own bathroom and toilets installed. The existing facilities were subsumed exactly as happened with your apartment. The entrance to the toilet from the hallway was eliminated and the owner of the nearest apartment knocked down the walls to make it part of the apartment. Some of them kept it as the toilet, as in your case, while others simply increased the size of the apartment. Often this was done illegally, as it amounts to stealing part of the building’s common area if there was no authorization by the co-ownership and no payment for purchasing it legally.
Your case is a variation of this common scenario. There is an unknown, which will be critical, which is when the annexation happened.
At the very least, you can prove that it has been like that since 2001 because you have an official document, the minutes of the general meeting. We do not know if the use of the facilities was given or purchased, but that does not affect your situation in any way. However, the right to use the WC was given to the previous owner personally and she had no right to sell or give it to you. This means the notaire who drafted your title made a professional error by not documenting the situation. It would be interesting to study your title, as it is possible that the WC is not mentioned in it and you did not notice this at the closing. (This shows why choosing an upstanding notaire is critical; each transaction should be an opportunity to clean up the title whenever possible.)
Now, let us review the two solutions proposed by your notaire.

The right of usage
It is possible to hold a special general meeting (assemblée générale extraordinaire) at which there is only one item on the agenda, which must cover two critical issues: The right to use the space must be given to you by name and to your next buyer without mentioning a name; if, as you expect, you lose this sale, you need to be able to pass it on to a different buyer, and the provision must be drafted this way.
The co-ownership can ask that this right be purchased. Since it has a market value, if they ask you will have to pay. This comes on top of the cost of calling the meeting. This may enrage you but it is according to the law, which is on their side. Moreover, your buyer is unlikely to accept a price increase just because you are forced to do this procedure.
Drafting the agenda item and motion properly will take a lawyer or a good jurist. You could ask your notaire to draft it. Do not trust the syndic to do it. Given the cost to convene the meeting and what is at stake, you should not take that kind of chance.
The good thing about this option is that it should only delay the sale by a couple of months or so. The bad thing is that the problem is not fixed, just prolonged until someone addresses the real issue, the fact that owner of the apartment should also own the toilet that is in the apartment.

The purchase of this common area
This procedure would involve enormous costs and long delays.
I must start from the fundamental side of the syndic/co-ownership, the legal side. At the moment, you are the owner of an apartment that does not contain the toilet in question. If you become the owner of the toilet, you change the size of the apartment in full ownership. That means changing the percentage of the building, or tantièmes, that your apartment represents. Doing so requires changing the property bylaws, which entails the following procedure:
1 – Appointing a surveyor to measure the apartment as it is now.
2 – Submitting the modification of the bylaws to the co-ownership. 
3 – Convening a special general meeting, at your expense. (You also have to pay the expert for the measurement and the modification.) The co-ownership will ask you to buy the toilet area since you want to own it. 
4 – If you have the votes and accept the price, then the modification of the bylaws has to be published.
Once this is done, the notaire can transfer the entire property to your buyer.
In summary, with this option you have little chance of selling before the end of 2023. It may take much longer, and I am not sure of the cost but it will be a lot.
I believe a third solution may exist. It can be addressed in a couple of ways. It starts with proving that this situation has existed for over 30 years, which would necessitate a discussion of how to find definitive proof. A provision in the Civil Code refers to becoming the owner of something – almost always real estate – after 30 years of peaceful usage. You would definitely need a lawyer to make sure the provision is applicable, assuming you can prove the situation existed in 1993 or before. From what you know, this seems quite possible. It depends on the availability of the original parties and any documents about when the change was made.
The second way of dealing with this – which again involves ensuring that the abovementioned Civil Code provision applies – is to explain to the buyer that there is definitely a 2001 document proving that the situation existed then, which means that by 2031 the 30 years of peaceful use will have passed. To avoid paying a private investigator to research the situation before 2001, and since time is of the essence, the best solution could be to sell with an official right of usage and explain that there could be an alternative to purchase.


Survival Home in Paris

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