This week, a court in Paris handed out its toughest sentence yet against a slum landlord. After first being acquitted in 2015, a Parisian landlord received a two-year suspended prison sentence and a €500,000 ($619,000) fine on appeal after he was found guilty of renting an insanitary and dangerous building to a large number of tenants who felt they had nowhere else to go. While the response is unusually firm, it appears to be just the first salvo in a new battle against so-called Marchands de Sommeil—“sleep peddlers”—from a government determined, as minster Julien Denormandie put it, to “hit them in the wallet.”
That crackdown, announced in December and ratified in January as part of a general overhaul of housing laws, is coming because the courts currently seem to be failing to rein in the excesses of abusive landlords. Under current laws, around 3,000 sites in France are condemned for their …
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