For the past decade and a half, a Parisian man known only by his first name, Dominique, has paid $442 a month for less than 17 square feet of inhabitable space. The 50-year-old, whose story has been highlighted by a French housing advocacy group and spotlighted recently by NPR, has become a human symbol of the city's exorbitant real estate market.
While floorspace technically exceeds the proclaimed 17 square feet, only space where ceilings reach above five feet, nine inches are considered "habitable" by French law; in this case, since the ceiling is steeply sloped, less than half of his floorspace is considered part of the square footage. Even so, Le Monde reports that French law demands apartments be at least nine square meters—his is 1.56 square meters—and include a shower. The apartment's illegality has not stopped three separate real estate agencies from managing the property, and what's more: the advocacy group, Fondation Abbe Pierre, only found out about Dominique after he reached out hoping for a little help dealing with his landlord.
The home is now boarded up and the current owner goes to court later this month. What has happened to Dominique? He's waiting for the apartment owner to "furnish a new home as the law requires," says Patrick Doutreligne, the managing director of the Fondation Abbé Pierre. "Unsuccessfully for the moment."
Photo via NPR