The Chargé in France (Armour) to the Secretary of State

No. 9211

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s instruction No. 2742 of April 21, 1928, and telegraphic instruction No. 204 of July 7, 2 p.m.,35 with regard to the failure of the French authorities to accord American landlords and tenants the same treatment as is accorded French citizens under present rent laws. The Department consistently holds that, notwithstanding the provisions of the rent laws, which would distinguish between the rights of French and aliens, American citizens are entitled to non-discriminatory treatment under the terms of Article 7 of the Consular Convention of 1853.

[Page 836]

In view of its instructions in the matter, I believe that the Department will desire to be kept informed of developments. As the Department is aware, American citizens residing in France, particularly tenants, have from time to time been encountering serious difficulties in the manner in which the rent laws are made to apply to them. Latterly, encouraged by several decisions of the lower courts adverse to foreign tenants, French landlords are in more numerous instances denying to American citizens the benefits of Article 4 of the law of April 1, 1926. The situation with regard to action under Article 5 of said law, when the American citizen is in the position of landlord, is at present less acute.

In one or two instances the Ministry for Foreign Affairs has responded to the Embassy’s representations in behalf of American tenants by according delays in eviction from the premises occupied by them, in order that the tenants might endeavor to reach satisfactory agreements with the landlords. The question of principle involved in the interpretation of Article 7 of the Convention of 1853 has, however, never been answered by the Foreign Office. I am therefore continuing to press for a decision on this point since failing such decision there is no recourse for the American tenants concerned than the rather hopeless one, in view of the generally adverse decisions handed down, of appealing to the courts. It should be noted that in some cases which have been brought to the attention of the Embassy the tenants have preferred, rather than to resort to litigation, to yield to the demands of the landlord for augmented rent (the amount of augmentation is strictly limited by law), but even this procedure is not available when the landlord insists upon the expulsion of the tenant in order that he may lease the premises to a new party upon the basis of the much higher rents now prevalent.

For the purpose of the Department’s records it should be added that the Embassy, in continuing to urge upon the Minister for Foreign Affairs a favorable determination of the rights of American tenants and landlords under Articles 4 and 5 of the law of 1926 as governed by the Consular Convention of 1853, has presented the matter by note of May 11, 1928, personal conversation of July 2, note of July 9, and finally by a note of November 23 earnestly requesting an early decision in the matter.

I have [etc.]

Norman Armour
  1. Latter not printed.