Paris man awarded $21,000 in compensation for renting 'broom closet'

PARIS (AFP) - A Paris court on Monday ordered nearly 12,000 euros (S$21,000) in compensation to be paid to a man who rented a "broom closet" for 15 years.

The court in Paris's 11th district said the owner of the tiny flat and its property manager had violated city bylaws on the minimum legal size of rentals.

The court ordered the two to pay a total of 10,000 euros in damages for violation of property rights, 1,000 euros in moral damages and some 815 euros to cover relocation expenses.

Under French law, only 1.52 sq m of the sloped-ceiling room were deemed habitable.

The man had rented the flat, which contained a sink but no toilet or shower, for 300 euros a month.

His lawyer Aurelie Geoffroy praised the court for sending a message to those who try to rent "micro-housing".

Mr Patrick Doutreligne, of the Abbe Pierre Foundation for Housing for the Underprivileged, said the renter should have received far more in moral damages.

"1,000 euros in moral damages is nothing at all - it makes light of human misery," he said, denouncing the flat as "not even a room but a broom closet".

Under a 2002 French housing law, the minimum allowable for legal housing is 9 sq m of floor space and a floor-to-ceiling height of 2.2m.

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