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Until now, slumlords operating in the poor suburban neighbourhoods surrounding Paris have notoriously escaped legal action through a combination of inertia on the part of local authorities, the fear and lack of alternative accommodation on the part of tenants, and the phantom-like existence of these cash-paid proprietors. But two suburban town halls, in Clichy-sous-Bois and Gennevilliers, have now undertaken a vigorous combat against slum property owners, and are succeeding in bringing them to court. Ellen Salvi reports on a case heard earlier this month, and which reveals a tale of desperate squalor and exploitation that is the daily predicament of thousands living around the capital.
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