French Court Grants Upper-floor Residents Right to Install Lift in Building
The Grand Tribunal d’Instances has granted upper-floor residents of a Third Empire apartment block the right to install a lift in the building after the proposal was rejected by the other occupants in 2013.
The fact most apartment buildings in Paris were built before 1900 means lifts are often lacking. Installation can be costly even when spread between all the co-owners and some apartment blocks are too old to have the work done. And even when upper-floor residents offer to cover the fees entirely, not all tenants approve.
A recently concluded case is an example of such a disagreement. The 4th, 5th and 6th-floor tenants of an apartment block dating from 1867-68 offered to cover the whole cost of installing a lift in the building. One of them was ageing while another had succumbed to a degenerative disease, making stairs a near impossibility. Their offer was nonetheless rejected by the lower-floor tenants at a co-owners meeting in May 2013.
Those opposed said that the lift installation process would encroach on the stair space and render it too small. An area for the bin chute would also have to be made narrowed to allow for the installation. Other reasons included doubts the building could withstand such works and the noise from the lift at night. The upper-floor tenants took their case to the court.
To their recent delight, the Grand Tribunal d’Instances ruled in their favour on May 3. They rejected each of the opposition’s complaints. The lift would not reduce the width of the stairs to below the legal requirement; the area for the chutes would also remain wide enough to be used; the lift would also be designed to limit the noise problem.
Doubts regarding the building’s ability to withstand the installation were also dismissed since the installation would effectively encase the lift, isolating it from the older infrastructure. Work can now go ahead under the supervision of the co-ownership’s designated architect and will be financed by the three residents of floors 4, 5 and 6.
France has suffered from undertaking a wealth of urban development earlier than its European neighbors and before lifts were standard. Figures from late 2016 show that it has a higher proportion of citizens living in cities than Italy and Spain, yet a lower count of lifts per 1000 inhabitants than both countries.
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