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Ask Miranda : Can the co-owners prevent me from renting out my maid’s room ?
I have recently bought an apartment that included a chambre de bonne, with the intention of renting that out separately. The room has its own toilet and shower, and from what I understood about city regulations, was large enough to be rented out for residential use. But when I was showing it to interested renters, one of my neighbors told me that the co-owners had voted several years ago to include a clause in the building rules forbidding the top floor maid’s rooms from being rented out separately (nearly all the owners in the building have one). Is this a valid restriction? Is there anything I can do to overturn that?
Thanks for your help.
The timing of your question is fortuitous: a year ago the answer would have been to bring a court case if it was important for you to challenge that rule, based on the argument that this was an unlawful restriction on the rightful use of your property. But another Paris apartment owner in your shoes has done the work for you.
In May of 2012, the French Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation) considered a rule voted by the owners of a Paris building that forbade any owner from separately renting out their chambre de bonne.
The owner seeking to uphold the restriction argued that the rule was valid because these rentals conflicted with the “bourgeous” (exclusively residential) status of the building. He particularly emphasized that, because the 7th floor maid’s rooms were only accessible by an exterior staircase that let out on the interior courtyard of the building, any such rental would by its nature be a nuisance to the other owners.
The court disagreed. First, the court confirmed that, as a matter of settled law, a maid’s room is not an annex of an apartment, but a separate, single lot which could be rented like any residential property as long as it met the city’s requirements for a habitable property. The court dismissed the argument that the exterior staircase was a de facto nuisance: as long as there was no particular, repeated nuisance associated with the rental (there was not in that case), the chambres de bonne could be rented by an owner who wanted to do so. You can read the full text of the court’s decision here.
As you rightly state, in Paris, city regulations do require that a maid’s room meet certain requirements to be rented out as a residence. For example, the room must be a minimum of 9 m2, must have hot and cold running water and electricity.