There are over a hundred thousand chambres de bonne - small attic rooms on the top floors of residential apartments, and traditionally used to house maids working for the owners below. As the employment of maids has decline over the years, owners tended to hold onto these tiny spaces, too small to legally rent (about 15% were let where they conformed to minimal size regulations) while the rest were left empty or used for storage. Their value however continue to rise with property price inflation, and was estimaed to have risen by over 80% since 1990.
The city of Paris has recently inaugurated a policy of buying-up these attic spaces, and joining two or more together to create larger, saleable apartments. Under this scheme an average of four chambres are linked together to create an apartment of 40 up to 130 sqare metres. When completed, they are sold in the smarter districts at between 11,500 and 12,500 euros per square metres.
The first experiment has already resulted in a total sell-out - mainly to French buyers, who find these attic lofts attractive, particularly where the package includes improve access, such as widening the 'back stairs' or installing or extending a lift.
These efforts alone wil not solve the capital's perenial housing problem but with over 100,000 empty chambres de bonne to working with, some thirty to forty thousand new homes could be created.
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