In a stormy atmosphere, the Assembly approved the extension of a system to cap rent increases at 3.5% for households and SMEs.
"I am fully aware that this text is being examined within limited and unusual deadlines," acknowledged the Renaissance rapporteur Thomas Cazenave at the opening of the debates Wednesday evening on his text, co-signed by the groups of the presidential camp (Renaissance, MoDem, Horizons).
It proposes to extend until early 2024 the "rent shield": a cap on the increase in the rent benchmark index to 3.5%. Introduced in the summer of 2022, it is due to expire at the end of June 2023. A similar scheme caps the increase in the commercial rent index for SMEs.
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With the end of the shield approaching, in a context of high inflation, the proposal for an extension had to be registered as a matter of urgency to hope to complete the parliamentary shuttle in time. The government has also initiated the accelerated procedure (one reading in each chamber).
The deputies Liot, LR and RN denounced the limits of the text but voted for it. Adopted overnight by 259 votes to 93, after a tense session marked by inquiries and points of order, it will now go to the Senate.
"The only response to the measure would be a freeze"
Thomas Cazenave defended the "urgency" of extending this "shield" under penalty of seeing rents "soar by more than 6% from July". The left-wing MPs retorted that they had to be "frozen" and voted against the text.
"This illusion of shield will necessarily lead to an increase," lamented Cyrielle Chatelain (ecologist). "It will be contained (but) any increase would create the risk of throwing even more people into poverty," she insisted.
"Tenants have already suffered an increase of 3.5% (in 2022-2023) and will experience a new increase with your device (...) The only response to the height would be a freeze, "abounded the communist Stéphane Peu. "We are asking for a blank year," insisted William Martinet (LFI).
"It is impossible to freeze rents," retorted Thomas Cazenave, advocating the "balance" between "tenants" and "owners also impacted by inflation".
He also warned of a censure of the Constitutional Council in case of rent freeze or too wide extension of the shield. An argument rejected by the left which argues that past rent freezes have not posed this problem.
"A strict extension (of the device) will not raise constitutional risks," insisted Minister Delegate for Trade Olivia Grégoire. Inflation slowed in France May to 5.1% year-on-year, according to an estimate published Wednesday by INSEE.