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Survival Home in Paris

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With a little help from my friends

October 2021

This month’s title song is by the Beatles, from their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The following year, Joe Cocker’s soul-style cover became a hit single and was further boosted by his performance of it at the Woodstock music festival.

Like many people, I am always mesmerized by Joe Cocker’s performance of this song, even though I am not a true fan of his. It is always fascinating to see the level of energy among the artists who played at Woodstock. They seem to be carried by a force that unites them not only with one another but also with the public.

For much of the past few weeks, the French media has talked about France’s loss of a submarine contract with Australia and how the USA “stabbed France in the back”. It has turned into a diplomatic incident, with the French ambassador in Washington DC being called back to Paris for the first time ever. To me, the notable thing about the situation is what happened after that. Both countries’ presidents talked on the phone and agreed to schedule meetings between their diplomats and between them personally. I liked seeing this. President Biden is known to be Francophile, and President Macron’s English is excellent, but I am not sure that alone explains how quickly the crisis de-escalated. Maybe the long-lasting Franco-American friendship has something to do with this.


One consistent policy of President Macron since he took office has been to unify the entire social system known as the Sécurité Sociale, which includes such well-known divisions as the Assurance Maladie (health coverage) and the Assurance Vieillesse, with the Caisse Nationale d’Assurance Vieillesse as the equivalent of the US Social Security Administration.

To give a little background: the Régime Social des Indépendants (RSI), which supervised the health coverage of the self-employed, was terminated in 2018, and since January 1st, 2020, the self-employed and employees have had exactly the same coverage, issued by the Caisses Primaires d’Assurance Maladie (CPAM). Everybody was happy about this, since the self-employed were getting better service.

Many living in France will remember the government’s attempts to unify all retirement regimes. After strikes and huge demonstrations, COVID happened and the plan was put on hold. It had been controversial largely because of the choice to put everyone on the self-employed regime, which is significantly worse than that enjoyed by employees.

Recently another aspect of unification occurred, which did not make headlines anywhere: the system of employee sick leave has been duplicated for the self-employed.

This is a huge breakthrough that goes against a long-standing French tradition. The organization of labor into employed and self-employed, the division of the latter into the categories of profession libérale, artisan and commerçant, and the establishment of the legal concept of a corporation as a personne morale all date back to Colbert, the prime minister under Louis XIV from 1661 until his death in 1683. Ever since, there has been a sharp distinction between employees, the good guys who need state protection, and business owners, the bad guys, legally assumed to be potential crooks requiring state oversight and auditing. More than 300 years later, a lot has finally changed. With the newer fiscal status of micro-entreprise and auto-entrepreneur, the stigma has significantly diminished. Yet owners still had to accept the risk of being in business and covering themselves against illness or loss of the business. President Macron wanted to give them the same protection all workers in France had and erase this distinction. The stimulus payments given to business owners probably helped in implementing this new policy. Now the self-employed get some compensation when they go on sick leave. Below is my translation of the guidelines in an email I received from URSSAF on September 24th.

“As of July 1st, 2021, people with profession libérale status can receive daily sickness benefits in the event of work stoppage. All information on the terms and conditions of this benefit is available on the website.

The introduction of this benefit entails an increase in the rate of social contributions of between 0.1% and 0.2%, depending on your situation. All information relating to the change in the contribution rate is available on the website.

Your new contribution rate will be applied automatically at the time of your turnover declaration for the 3rd quarter of 2021, available online from October 1st, 2021.

Craftsmen, traders, entrepreneurs, micro-entrepreneurs and spouses who collaborate with their mates can benefit from daily allowances under certain conditions. To be able to claim sickness compensation for your professional activity, you must prove at least 12 months of continuous participation in this activity.

Note: if the 12-month requirement is not met, your sick leave may, under certain conditions, be eligible for compensation due to the maintenance of rights from your previous activity: check with your CPAM.

To receive daily sickness benefits during a work stoppage, you must meet three conditions:
• you are temporarily unable to continue or resume a professional activity due to illness;
• you have a work stoppage (arrêt maladie) order from your attending physician, who has noted this inability to continue or resume a professional activity;
• you have stopped your activity.

A daily allowance is paid to you by your CPAM to compensate for your loss of income during sick leave. Under certain conditions, you can receive daily allowances after a three-day waiting period. They are calculated from your assessed income and are paid every 14 days on average. Please note: your daily allowance statements also validate your retirement rights. Keep them indefinitely.

The daily allowance you will receive during your sick leave is equal to 1/730th of your average annual activity income (RAAM). This is calculated on the average of your assessed income for the three calendar years preceding the date of your work stoppage.

Your income is taken into account within the limit of the annual social security ceiling (PASS) in force on the day of the medical finding of incapacity for work, i.e., 41,136€ gross (as of January 1st, 2021). Even if your average annual activity income is greater than 41,136€, your daily allowance cannot exceed the maximum amount of 56.35€ gross set on January 1st, 2021.

If your RAAM for the three calendar years preceding your work stoppage is less than 10% of the average of the annual value of the PASS in force during the years considered (4,046.40€ in 2021), the amount of your daily allowance is zero.

For the self-employed, the MICRO annual taxable income corresponds to the annual turnover less the standard allowance (71% for the activities of BIC Vente, 50% for BIC Prestations, 34% for BNC).

Daily sickness benefits are due from the fourth day of sick leave. Your reimbursement statement can be viewed in your Ameli account.

During the first three days of your sick leave, no daily allowance is paid to you; this is called the waiting period. It applies at the start of each work stoppage except in the following cases:
• if you benefit from an extension of your work stoppage after resuming activity for up to 48 hours between the end of your initial stoppage and the start of the extended stoppage;
• your stoppage is due to a long-term illness, in which case the waiting period is retained only for the first work stoppage (valid for three years).”

I have translated this article to remind my readers that the Airbnb fight in Paris is not over. While the pandemic stopped tourism for two summers in a row, tourists have started coming back to Paris, though the numbers are still low. I am sure it will take a year or two for the French tourism industry to get back to where it was before COVID.

This court decision concerns a situation that began in 2017. The pandemic took many apartments out of the short-term rental market, which may be one reason average Parisian real estate prices lost about 1% in a year.

“The noise of rolling suitcases being dragged in the middle of the night by tourists looking for their ‘furnished Airbnb’ haunts the residents of some apartment buildings. But how can one oppose this nuisance if the condo bylaws do not expressly prohibit seasonal rentals?

That is the question that recently arose for co-owners of a Haussmann building in Paris’s 8th arrondissement.

On June 5th, 2017, the general assembly of co-owners agreed to allow the division of the fourth floor into six lots for use as offices. On January 3rd, 2018, the SCI that owned the lots sold them to two other companies, which decided to list them on tourist rental sites (Airbnb,, etc.) Soon the residents were complaining of incessant comings and goings, noise at night, and the ‘guests’ parties.

On June 20th, 2019, the general assembly decided to take the matter to court in an effort to obtain an order against hotel activity.

The case was heard on September 8th, 2020. The co-owners’ file included several documents showing evidence of the complaints: photos of suitcases piled up in the entry and corridors and damage done to the staircase by suitcase wheels, along with letters and certificates. In a letter dated February 1st, 2020, a co-owner mentioned ‘display of panties and bras on the balcony,’ damage in the elevator, and ‘regular vomiting’ in the common areas.

Several people reported having filed complaints up to the beginning of the 2020 lockdown. The concierge testified that she could no longer sleep, that she was insulted by tourists when she protested their incivility but that the manager of one of the SCIs forbade her to speak to them. He even complained to the co-owners’ group of ‘serious misconduct’ on her part.

The co-owners argued that the six disputed lots were meant to be used as offices and that the hotel operation contravened the co-ownership regulations. The SCIs countered that under the terms of the regulations as amended in 2008, when online rental platforms already existed in France, that ‘each apartment can be assigned to bourgeois, professional or commercial use’ and that this meant that commercial activity was allowed.

The co-owners then argued that the regulations prohibited the nuisances generated by this activity, as they stipulated: ‘Each co-owner will have the right to enjoy, use and dispose of their premises … , provided that they do not harm the owners of the other lots’ and that their use of the premises ‘must not be dangerous or annoying for the other co-owners through, among other things, the noise of the reception of many customers.’

The by-laws further specify that ‘no co-owner or occupant of the building shall encumber the entrances, vestibules, stairs, landings, corridors, or any other common parts of the buildings.’

The presiding judge ruled on May 12th, 2021, that ‘authorized commercial activity is framed by the co-ownership regulations’ and could only be allowed if it was ‘not inconvenient for the other co-owners.’ As it appeared from the documents submitted that it ‘causes repeated nuisances,’ with the occupants of the rented lots ‘disturbing the other occupants, in violation of the stipulations of the co-ownership regulations, these facts constitute a manifestly unlawful disturbance.’

The judge put an end to the ‘manifestly unlawful’ disorder by ordering the SCIs to cease their activities ‘for a period of sixteen months,’ or roughly the waiting period for a judgment on the merits; … the order states that ‘the final ban … requires an interpretation of the co-ownership regulations falling solely within the power of the trial judge.’ In the meantime, the residents can sleep again.”

Over the holidays, my assistant, Sarah, took an interesting initiative and created a new Facebook page. It is a good move for her since she and I both moderate it. She can show off her expertise and her ability to give good advice and clearly explain solutions. She does this in French, leaving the queries in English to me.

Since I am already active in a few Facebook groups and my website is my main showcase, I did not feel I needed such a page. On the other hand, it will no doubt benefit her. I do not have the time to monitor this forum and so far, it has been fairly quiet. Sarah is still figuring out how to handle this new task, being quite busy herself. I am sure it will be a great space for exchange, and hope it will pick up in the near future.

You are welcome to join:

The office will close for three weeks over the Christmas holidays, starting on Friday December 17th in the evening and reopening on the morning of Monday January 3rd. 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,


Your case raises several basic issues:
1 – In France, if a request is not sent by registered letter it is as if you never made the request. It is never a good idea to send emails, text messages and so on, although the initial exchange can be by email in a case where the issue can be solved amicably. But if the place is in the awful condition which you described, the owner can be considered a crook and sending an email will do nothing. The best thing is to waste no time but send a registered letter within a couple of days.
2 – Even if you send a registered letter, the owner has no good reason to answer you. He has your money and he thinks your decision was unreasonable, so the burden of proof is on you. Therefore, a second registered letter should be ready to send on the day mentioned in the first letter as the deadline for reimbursement. The second letter should mention that a lawsuit is pending; if possible, mention the name of a law firm (with permission). Be sure to send supporting documents both times. Ideally, you take pictures of the place, even though that might seem counterintuitive. Instead of leaving right away, visit the entire house and document every room. Also, be sure to copy the photos posted on the site to prove the obvious discrepancy.
3 – You need to think of some kind of leverage so that he has something to lose by not replying. I see only two possibilities:
a. Inform the management of the site, making clear that you hold them liable for what he did because it is false advertising and they are responsible for that.
b. Write bad reviews on the site to discourage other renters.
Note that either action could be considered defamation unless you have documents, such as pictures, to back you up.
Be ready for a violent and menacing reaction. Do not answer threatening messages from the owner. Make it clear to the site that you are ready for a lawsuit considering the evidence you have collected and the support of the law firm.
4 – You have signaled your intention to file a complaint with a local court. Remember that renting out French real estate makes the related income taxable in France. What are the chances that he is not declaring the money you have paid him, and maybe not declaring at all? Just the threat of a French court decision detailing his rental business could have a real impact on his reaction.

Here are the steps you need to take:
1 – Gather evidence and documentation of the condition of the place and why you claim it was improper for a normal vacation rental with children. Keep in mind that the burden of proof is on you; that is why you start with this.
2 – Draft and send an initial letter/message to each party. After a short time, inform the management of the site what you are doing. Write bad reviews on the site to discourage other renters as the owner has a financial interest in having a good reputation. The management of the website loses credibility and therefore business if a negative evaluation stays too long on the site without being addressed.
3 – I know from experience that the initial reaction from each party may be brutal. This is when you need to mention the possibility of a court case, with enough details to make clear that you have a serious, well-thought-out case ready to be filed.
Let’s hope the matter will then be settled, because I cannot advise you to file in court without having seen enough evidence to determine whether your case would hold up in court.



I left my partner in Paris to go back to Indonesia to get an immigration self-employed visa. We lived together in Paris for over a year but it was not enough to secure any viable immigration status. During the initial appointment with VFS Global, they were very firm and truly rude, stating that this visa did not exist or at least was not currently issued. The French consulate in Indonesia confirmed that they were processing all types of visas again, so the application for the profession libérale visa should go through this time. We continue to be very worried. Would the visa long séjour “visiteur” 4 à 12 mois be a better choice? After that, once in Paris, I could apply at the prefecture for profession libérale status. When the visa request was filled in, the the visa application wizard for profession libérale generated a long list of documents that do not seem relevant: lease-management agreement, credit guarantee, etc. Should we worry about those?


There are a lot of issues to address here.

1 – Sadly, VFS Global is doing a poor job regardless of the country where the visa request is submitted. I am familiar with this situation because it has happened in numerous countries, including some branches in the USA, although it is now becoming less frequent. Therefore, before any meetings with VFS, it is necessary to know your file thoroughly, as well as the legal grounds for the visa. VFS staff members are still capable of telling you that such and such a visa does not exist or is not documented this way. Continue the discussion until they reach the point where they say they need confirmation from the French consulate, as you did, so that you can get back to them once you receive the endorsement of the French administration. As far as I know, all immigration visas defined in the CEDESA code are being issued everywhere in the world, based on the experiences of clients living in different countries whom I have recently helped with this procedure.

2 – Always ask for the right visa. For years now and probably for the foreseeable future, it is pretty much impossible to change the immigration status at the prefecture to something other than what the visa states. The most recent procedure is impossible to derail because everything goes through either OFII or an email sent to the prefecture. It is no longer possible to meet with someone early in the procedure. A self-employedprofession libérale is by definition a VLS-TS (visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour), and once in France, the first step for the holder is to register with OFII. Then it is possible to register the business with URSSAF.

As for a visiteur visa valid less than a year, note that it does not bear the word visiteur but is called a VLS, orvisa de long séjour. You do not go through the OFII procedure so you do not get a foreign ID number and hence cannot register a business with URSSAF. Thus, as a general rule, always ask for the right visa, regardless how complicated it is to put together the file. Choose wisely when you consider what to ask for.

The only possible exception concerns some passeport talent subcategories linked to business creation or international fame; if there is insufficient French support, choosing profession libérale to enter France and working for a couple of years before asking for thepasseport talent could be a viable strategy.

3 – The consulate and prefecture sites deal with the generic terminology “micro-entreprise” visas. Consequently, there is almost never a distinction made between profession libérale, on the one hand, andartisan (craftsman) or commerçant (merchant), on the other. The documents you mention, such as the lease-management agreement, make sense if you need a shop to sell from as a merchant or a studio in which to work with equipment and tools as a craftsman. But they make no sense for, say, a consultant working from home. This is the only list on those sites, and it does not say much about what is really needed. I have long used a list I drew up myself. A lot of fine tuning is still required, as each project is different, but it is a decent starting point.

ID – the applicant
Proof of address (in Indonesia, in your case)
Birth certificate
Health insurance valid in France
Proof of address in France (affidavit of lodging from your partner)

The project – the business
Cover letter in French outlining the services offered and relevant experience
Diploma related to the work
Proof of experience in the field
Letters of interest in your work by French residents
Bank statement showing the equivalent of about 22,000€, to be on the safe side, or an affidavit of support from your partner
Your Indonesian income tax documents if you have them

Media coverage

Focus on building a strong file and take the time to do it right. It is always faster and simpler when the file requires no additional documents or just tiny details to address.


I do not know any way to reassure you that the plumbing problems have been fixed, but let’s break down this complex situation so I can address what is happening.

1 – A normal water damage insurance claim
The tenant upstairs and you should sign a constat amiable de dégâts des eaux containing the minimum information needed for each party to open a claim. One question asked is if the leak has been repaired.

Each party gets an estimate for repairing the damage and submits it to their respective insurance company. Since June 1st, 2018, according to a new protocol in the French insurance industry called the Convention d’Indemnisation et de Recours des Sinistres Immeuble (IRSI), if the repairs cost less than 5,000€ (without TVA), the insurance companies pay for the repairs without seeking compensation from the party responsible. Above that, the insurer(s) of the victim(s) of the leak ask for compensation from the insurer of the apartment where the leak started.

This is why it is important to get an estimate, as it determines which procedure applies. Note that getting an estimate says nothing as to when the repairs will be done.

Usually each insurance company names an expert to review the estimate. Ideally the experts meet on the premises, i.e., your apartment, to reach an agreement and allow the compensation to be paid. Then each insurance company pays the amount set by the expert, less TVA, which will be paid once the work is finished and the contractor paid.

All this can happen only once the leak is identified and fixed, so that the damage does not continue.

2 – Prerogatives of the syndic (property manager)
The syndic only deals with the common area and has no role regarding the apartments themselves, which are private property and also someone’s domicile. Getting in without authorization would be trespassing on private property. Still, when a situation jeopardizes the building as a whole, such as gallons of water going through all the apartments, the syndic has the right to get in without authorization and ensure that the leak is stopped. This usually happens when either no one is there at the time or the person does not see the leak because the pipes are hidden.

The syndic pays the repair bill and asks the apartment owner for reimbursement if it is a private leak. If the leak came from a pipe that is part of the common area, it is the syndic’s responsibility to start with.

Therefore, the landlord making such claims sounds wrong to me. In any case, the syndic should send you a copy of the bill so you can inform your insurance company that the leak was fixed.

3 – The unknown situation upstairs and what you should do
This is where things become complicated. From an insurance point of view, you are only concerned with leaks from upstairs that go through the ceiling or walls of your apartment. Someone with an eagle eye should regularly inspect your apartment. Although you live in the USA, your helper can do this – perhaps more often than usual for a while, in case there are still leaks upstairs.

The question is, if there is a new leak, does it increase the existing damage? If so, you must file a claim so that you are covered for that, too.

Finally, although it might be a lot easier said than done, stay away as much as possible from the dispute between the landlord upstairs and the syndic, and, by extension, the copropriété. Being just underneath, yours is the first apartment where the leak appears. So you need to be extremely careful to file new claims when the leaks occur without having the constat amiable de dégâts des eaux filled out by both parties due to the aggressive attitude of the tenant and the landlord of the apartment above. Therefore you need to stay away as much as possible from the party responsible for the leaks.

Sadly, the renovation might not be possible for a long time unless you take the risk of getting it done and having to go through the same procedure shortly thereafter.


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