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French Landlord-Tenant Law Now: Rights and Responsibilities In A Nutshell

Renting a property in France involves navigating various legal and regulatory requirements that protect both tenants and landlords. This includes knowledge of rights, responsibilities, and essential procedures to maintain compliance and address any potential disputes.
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      1. Lease Agreements
      2. Right to privacy
      3. La trêve hivernale
      4. Security deposit
      5. Rent control
      6. Eviction and notice period
      7. Terminating a lease in the event of non-payment
      8. Home Insurance
      9. Property maintenance 
      10. Regulations on Safety, Habitability, and Energy Performance
      11. Discrimination Protections

     

    France has quite strict regulations concerning property rentals, which can be pretty intricate. Therefore, understanding them and how they impact tenants and landlords is essential. So, we’ve compiled a guide explaining each step to assist you through this process.

    French Landlord-Tenant Law is primarily governed by:

    1. The 1989 Tenancy Act (Loi n° 89-462 du 6 juillet 1989).

    This law outlines landlords’ and tenants’ rights and obligations in residential leases;

    2. Alur Law (Loi pour l’Accès au Logement et un Urbanisme Rénové)

    Implemented in 2014, this legislation established rules to oversee rent increases, support tenant protections, and improve the market’s transparency. It also involves guidelines for setting rent limits in areas with demand and establishing a universal rental guarantee system.

    3. Elan Law (Loi Evolution du Logement, de l’Aménagement et du Numérique)

    This law, enacted in 2018, was designed to streamline and update housing regulations. It includes provisions for faster eviction processes in case of unpaid rent, encouraging shared housing, and introducing new types of housing agreements, like mobility leases (bail mobilité).

    Lease Agreements

    The rental contract covers all aspects, such as the length of a lease, landlords’ and tenants’ responsibilities and entitlements clauses regarding rent and security deposit, and penalties for any breaches of the agreement. Therefore, reviewing and comprehending all terms before signing the rental contract is crucial.

    Learn about the different lease options to find the one that best suits your needs. 

    Right to privacy

    Regulations regarding access to personal information bind landlords. For example, the regulations prohibit them from requesting documents such as ID photos, criminal records, or social security information.

    Also, according to the National Accommodation Agency of France (Agence National pour l’Information sur le Logement), landlords must obtain tenant consent before entering the property. Once they hand over the keys, landlords cannot enter without permission. Therefore, the landlord cannot conduct viewings for future tenants on weekends, holidays, or weekdays for longer than 2 hours.

    Tenants have the right to live in an apartment without interference from the landlord, even if the landlord is in charge of the building. However, a state of emergency may allow the landlord to enter the property in certain situations.

    La trêve hivernale

    During winter, “La trêve hivernale” protects tenants from eviction as a humanitarian measure from November 1 to March 31 of the following year.

    While this provides security for tenants, it also makes landlords more selective when renting out their properties in France. This can make it difficult for low-income individuals to find housing as landlords become more particular about who they lease their property to.

    Security deposit

    Regarding the security deposit, both parties need to create an inventory list before a new tenant moves in and sign the lease at that time. As previously mentioned, this list (état des lieux) records and describes everything in the apartment.

    When a tenant leaves, this list checks the property for damages, which will be deducted from the deposit. You should take photos of the apartment when moving in, including any existing damages, and retake photos when moving out.

    The security deposit should not exceed one month’s rent for unfurnished or two months for furnished properties. Tenants are not responsible for damages they can prove they didn’t cause.

    Landlords must return the deposit within two months after the tenancy agreement ends or after the move-out date. The landlord may reduce the refund amount if issues are noted during the move-out inspection (“etat des liens de sortie”).

    Furthermore, a landlord cannot increase the deposit if the tenant renews a lease.

    Find out more about security deposit in a residential lease for unfurnished and furnished homes.

    Rent control

    Rent control limits the owner’s rent (including a mobility lease). It apply in municipalities situated in stretched areas.

    Specific rules (including the rent supplement the reference rents (reduced and increased) apply to ParisLille, Hellemmes and LommeLyon and VilleurbanneMontpellierBordeaux, and the municipalities of Common Plain and d’Est Ensemble.

    For example, the rent signed/renewed since July 1st, 2019, in Paris is subject to rent control, whether with a mobility lease or an empty or furnished dwelling lease.

    If the owner (or his representative) does not comply with these rules, he may be fined up to €5,000 (or €15,000 if it is a legal person).

    Rent control does not cover some dwellings, as they are subject to other rules. Dwellings subject to the 1948 law or contracted by the Anah (excluding intermediate rent agreements), social housing (HLM), and furnished tourist goods, and subleases are subject to other rules.

    Useful links:

    To do a simulation for the apartment you wish to rent, go to the DRIHL website to obtain the exact estimation of the controlled rent.

    You can check whether your rent meets the rent guidelines using this simulator.

    Check out this simulator to find out whether your municipality is in a tense area.

    Eviction and notice period

    Landlords can only ask tenants to leave for reasons like needing the space themselves (reclaiming for personal use), wanting to sell the property, or if the tenant violates the lease agreement (like not paying rent).

    Adhering to the requirements when drafting a letter to terminate a lease agreement for a property in France is crucial, or the tenant may not consider it valid. Whether the property is furnished or unfurnished determines the duration of notice (“le congé”) that a landlord needs to provide, with three months for furnished properties and six months for unfurnished ones.

    Tenants usually have the right to keep their apartment as long as they meet their responsibilities. However, in some situations, landlords may need to reclaim the property.

    Good to know

    In France, a recent law has simplified the process for landlords dealing with tenants who fail to pay rent. When signing an agreement, the landlord must now include an “automatic termination clause.” This clause allows the landlord to terminate the lease without court intervention if the tenant fails to pay rent.

    Don’t hesitate to refer to our digest on evictions and procedures regarding notice periods for landlords and tenants in France for more comprehensive advice.

    Terminating a lease in the event of non-payment

    When it comes to dealing with rent, if efforts to resolve the situation amicably fail and rent arrears continue, landlords may have no choice but to resort to legal action as a last measure to recover the overdue payments:

    1. According to French Civil Code article 1342-4, the landlord has the right to demand full payment and to reject partial payments.

    2. If the lease agreement specifies this, the landlord may pursue damages in the event of nonpayment (article 1343-1 of the French Civil Code).

    3. The landlord is entitled to collect unpaid rent and maintenance fees for three years after the tenant vacates.

    Check our guide on reclaiming unpaid rent in France for more in-depth directions.

    Home Insurance

    When you rent a furnished or unfurnished apartment in France, you’re legally obligated by the French government to take liability insurance against the risk of fire, explosion, water break, natural disasters, and other damages to the furniture.

    If you don’t, the landlord can take it on your behalf and charge or evict you. If something happens, it’s a small fee to protect you and your apartment from potential hefty costs.

    The minimal level of cover needed is assurance risques locatifs, while a comprehensive policy is called assurance multi-risques d’habitation.

    The landlord must also take out a policy covering, for example, structural problems with the property and claims arising from their repairing obligations.

    Also, regarding furnished rentals, the landlord is legally obligated to take out landlord insurance (assurance propriétaire non-occupant).

    Please consult our guides on landlord insurance and tenant insurance for more specific directions.

    Property Maintenance

    The tenant’s rights are the landlord’s, and the tenant’s duties are vice versa.

    In France, landlords have a set of maintenance duties for properties. Typically, the tenant covers the cost of routine maintenance (patching up holes, changing bulbs, clearing clogged pipes as needed, etc.)

    Tenants are accountable for any damages unless the landlord causes them, individuals on the premises, or uncontrollable circumstances (force majeure).

    You can find further recommendations in our instruction guide.

    Tenants are expected to handle maintenance, minor fixes, and any major repairs resulting from their misuse. Before making any changes to the property or equipment, seeking the landlord’s written approval is essential.

    At the end of their leasing agreement, tenants are liable for basic repairs like filling in drill holes and repainting walls to their original color. Still, they cannot make significant structural changes (like demolishing a wall).

    Remember to look at our how-to approach for beneficial and detailed information!

    Regulations on Safety, Habitability, and Energy Performance

    The landlord must give a prospective tenant several documents. For example, a technical diagnosis report includes energy performance, lead exposure risk report, and natural, technological, and mining risks report. These inspections benefit both landlords and tenants. They go beyond checklists; they focus on guaranteeing safety, energy efficiency, and adherence to the laws of your property.

    Check out this handy list of required mandatory surveys and reports.

    Discrimination Protections

    French legislation safeguards against discrimination in the rental market. It prohibits bias related to race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and disability. Tenants are entitled to equal treatment and opportunities when seeking accommodation.

    Please note: This article does not constitute legal advice – the information on this page has been prepared solely for your information. As we are not a law firm and act as a platform, we can and may share our estimations, but we cannot give you legal advice for your individual further proceedings.

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