Social security of housing, or universal coverage, whatever name you give it, is a true Arlesian. The first mention of the need to guarantee the payment of rent to landlords dates back to 2002, that is, twenty years ago, almost to this day. It is the presidential candidate Lionel Jospin who takes up the idea from his then foreign minister for housing, Marie-Noëlle Lienemann, who is the reason for it. At the time, the Prime Minister was aiming for the highest office, and during his campaign he proposed a “Zero Homeless City 2007” plan, in which he incorporated this concept of social security for housing. This should make it possible to respond to two major problems: the large number of rent deferrals due to non-payment and the difficulties in accessing housing due to the inability to make a deposit. Unfortunately for him, Lionel Jospin fails the first round and his project falls through.
In 2014, this mechanism reappeared through the law “for access to housing and renovated urban planning”, known as the Alur Act. The text from Housing Minister Cécile Duflot then provides for the possibility of establishing a mandatory universal rent guarantee (YELLOW), to allow landlords to continue to charge their rents in the event that their tenant defaults on their rent. The unit is supposed to be financed by a tax of about 2% on rent, paid in equal parts by owners and tenants. And it must enter into force by 2016. Finally, the implementing decrees will never be published and the mechanism will be forgotten.
Mandatory universal rental guarantee
It is now thanks to the economic crisis – coupled with an incipient housing crisis – and the presidential election that the idea is back in the public debate. Two candidates for the Élysée, Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Yannick Jadot, even make it a campaign promise in turn. The first is based on a bill “which tends to make the right to housing effective”, submitted on 21 January 2020 in the National Assembly. Text that, among other things, allows for the creation of a mandatory and public universal insurance on unpaid rents, which makes it possible to compensate the owners when their tenants get into difficulties. A consideration for the ban on rent eviction that the insoumis want. The environmental candidate, for his part, is taking a similar bill, centered on the establishment of a universal guarantee for mandatory rents, which was put forward in December 2021 by the deputy of Val-d’Oise Aurélien Taché. The latter contributed to the development of Yannick Jadot’s housing program.
In detail, these two proposals are very similar. Specifically, in both cases, the state acts as guarantor for the tenant through a public institution that is responsible for administering YELLOW and settling the debt to the owner in case of non-payment. And they pursue the same objectives: to put an end to the discrimination in access to housing between those who have guarantors and those who do not, and to put an end to rental evictions without proposals for rehousing. But in practice, the projects of the two candidates differ slightly. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, for his part, envisages a national solidarity fund, managed jointly by representatives of owners and tenants elected by their peers, and funded thanks to a contribution of about 2% minus the owners’ rent.
Avoid parental guarantees and private insurance
“We know that the rate for unpaid rent is very low, around 2%. The contribution threshold can therefore be adjusted according to the observed rates for unpaid bills. But the financial cost of the measure remains very low, also for the owner, as it is still much cheaper than private insurance, “explains William Martinet of France Insoumise.” And the advantage is very important, as it makes it possible to dispense with the very unequal logic of guarantors. And above all, we avoid the eviction and homelessness of families in difficulty: the landlord longer throw them out as it is covered, “he adds. Everything is not yet decided technically, but the idea of Insoumis would be to have a very protective guarantee, close to the current Visale carried by Action Logement.” Once the guarantee is triggered, The goal is very quickly to find a solution to settle the debt by triggering all the existing mechanisms, such as the Housing Solidarity Fund, and possibly offer housing with a rent, d is better suited to the tenant ”, explains William Martinet.
Yannick Jadot proposes to finance his measure with a contribution of between 1% and 2% of the rent paid equally between owners and tenants (but not by the state, contrary to what his official program suggests). The rental guarantee will be triggered within 30 days of the unpaid amount and will cover up to 18 monthly payments (rent and fees) within the limit of the local median rent. Finally, the measure will replace existing systems, such as Visale’s public guarantee, parental guarantees and private insurance. Ecologists, however, do not reduce this social security of housing to a simple insurance logic. “We want to create secure access to housing and long-term housing. YELLOW thus makes it possible to respond to extremely urgent cases by securing landlords’ income and letting tenants stay in the home. But it is a matter of implementing social support measures aimed at dealing with cases of non-payment as early as possible, ”explains the teams from Yannick Jadot, who specify that the tool will be integrated into a housing law, including erection. of the SRU obligation to 30% of HLM and the generalization of rent control.
Resistance from traditional insurance companies
Now that the framework has been set, the question is whether such housing insurance (this time) could see the light of day. Overall, insurance authorities and real estate agents are not in favor of introducing compulsory rent insurance. “The very idea of social security for housing has derogatory connotations, and it irritates many landlords and realtors because many see it as a powerless tenant. And the promise of compensation, even without time limit, only partially reassures them,” Judge Jean-Paul Boudignon said. specialist in property insurance. “It would require taxes of pedagogy to get it accepted,” he warns.
Above all, this project could once again provoke outcry from private insurance companies and brokers whose intense lobbying had already taken control of Cécile Duflot’s project in 2014. At the time, the syndicate of insurance brokers had even seized the high competition authority given that the law brought them unfair competition. “It is true that the introduction of a universal rental guarantee would deprive insurers of a market in which they have invested heavily and have some know-how, especially in terms of claims handling,” notes Jean-Paul Boudignon. According to him, the idea would only have a chance to succeed within the framework of a partnership between the private and the public. “One would almost imagine an operation such as Social Security, with a basic guarantee, financed by contributions from the insured, and optional guarantees, as a supplementary health insurance,” the expert assesses. In any case, Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Yannick Jadot will certainly have to face fierce opposition from traditional insurance companies if one of them gets elected and wants to complete his project.
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Finally, please note that Emmanuel Macron, for his part, has just agreed to a review and extension for all tenants of the Visale guarantee. So far, this rental deposit is reserved for all young people under the age of 30 and employees earning less than € 1,500 net per month or in a situation of professional mobility.
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