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Giving Targeted Notices to Tenants in France: Useful Tips

Get to know the complexities of lease termination in France, focusing on how to properly compose a lease termination letter (lettre de résiliation de bail) to avoid legal issues. We'll assist you through this process to secure a legally compliant and effective resolution.

 

It’s crucial to grasp the intricacies of the résiliation de bail, including how to craft a lease termination letter (lettre de résiliation de bail). This way you can avoid potential legal pitfalls. 

The law leans heavily towards the tenant, as the French consider the security of a home a fundamental right for all tenants.

A landlord can’t terminate the lease until it expires. Unless a tenant has failed to pay their rent or has significantly broken the tenancy rules. Where either issue occurs, the usual practice is for the landlord to employ the service of a special kind of bailiff—a huissier—to manage proceedings.

Creating a tenancy contract cancellation letter for a property in France has to fulfill specific legal terms or can be disregarded by the tenant. This is why it is essential to follow the process using a professional who fully understands the system.

France has very tight rules on property rentals. Furthermore, those rules are quite complicated, so you need to know what they are and how they apply to you.

Résiliation de bail notice period

When entering a rental agreement in France, landlords and tenants must understand the specific notice periods required for terminating their lease. The type of rental, whether furnished or unfurnished, can significantly affect these notice periods.

Be aware that if you overlook the deadline and don’t account for the entire notice period, the lease will automatically renew, costing you the chance to terminate for that year. Therefore, timely action is of utmost importance.

You must send the notice by recorded delivery or the huissier must hand-deliver it.

The minimum notice period (called le congé) that a landlord must give depends on whether it is a furnished or unfurnished letting.

Unfurnished Letting – Six months

Furnished Letting – Three months

In addition, if you don’t give notice during this period, your tenancy agreement will be automatically renewed for another term.

However, there are three reasons why a landlord can take back the property at the end of a tenancy agreement. If none of these reasons apply and you want to stay in the property, the tenancy agreement will automatically renew itself.

You must send the letter of leave to the tenant:

  1. Either by registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt
  2. Or by act of commissioner of justice (formerly act of bailiff)
  3. As well as by hand delivery against signature or receipt

The landlord cannot just give leave by e-mail. Even if the recipient accepts it by return mail, this way of providing leave remains invalid. However, the landlord can give leave by sending one registered letter (RL).

To be valid, the tenant must receive the leave letter at least three months before the end of the lease. If the letter of leave reaches the tenant late, the leave is not valid.

Exceptions to notice

You can only terminate the lease in because of three reasons:

  1. Breach of tenancy conditions
  2. The sale of the property
  3. Landlord occupation

When planning to sell the property, the tenant has the right of first refusal, but only on unfurnished lettings.

If you are renting a property under a lease agreement, your landlord cannot end the tenancy before the agreed end date unless you breach the terms of the contract.

However, if you breach the agreement, your landlord can take legal action to recover possession of the property. The section Legal Proceedings explains this process in more detail.

Depending on the method used by the landlord to send the letter of leave, it is more or less possible to predict the day when the tenant will get it:

How do you calculate the notice period?

Rest assured, if a tenant receives permission to leave a property well before the required three-month or six-month notice period, it’s valid. However, the countdown for the notice period doesn’t start immediately.

For example, if a tenant’s lease ends on September 20 and a tenant gets a notice on June 3, the notice itself is valid. But, the official notice period begins on June 20, and a move-out date remains September 20.

Make sure to mark dates clearly to avoid any confusion.

Conditions for Tenant Protection

When a landlord intends to issue a notice to a tenant to vacate the property, there are certain conditions under which the tenant can be protected from eviction.

Additionally, the tenant may receive protection if they meet at least one of the following conditions:

  • Tenants under 65 years of age at lease expiration – While French law does not explicitly grant blanket protections based purely on being under 65, the protections for these individuals are generally more about their socio-economic conditions. For instance, they may qualify for certain protections if they have low income or are vulnerable.

  • Tenants over 65 years of age at lease expiration – French law provides more robust protections for tenants over 65, especially if they have low income or no other available housing options. Landlords cannot quickly evict these tenants without providing suitable alternative accommodation. This design aims to provide stability and security in housing situations for older tenants, who may be particularly vulnerable.

Lastly, this rule applies to both unfurnished and furnished lettings.

These protections work to balance the rights of tenants and landlords, ensuring fair handling of evictions and addressing the needs of more vulnerable populations.

Exclusions from the eviction

Dependency: French law protects elderly tenants (typically those over 65) and those who care for them. This includes scenarios where the tenant might be dependent on an older adult. This dependency generally refers to caregiving or financial dependency, indicating that the tenant has substantial responsibilities towards an older adult.

Income Thresholds: The total income of all people living in the dwelling must be below specific predetermined amounts. Authorities usually set these thresholds to identify financially vulnerable households.

Conditions for Non-Renewal Despite Tenant Protections

In fact, the landlord can still terminate or not renew the lease if they meet one of the following criteria:

Landlord’s Age: The landlord must be over 65 years old by the due date of the lease. This condition recognizes that elderly landlords might also need protections, perhaps to move back into their properties or address their own housing needs.

Landlord’s Income: The landlord’s income is below the same income thresholds set for tenant protection as of the date the tenant receives the notice to leave. This ensures that low-income landlords are not overly burdened by being unable to reclaim their properties.

Additional Obligations for the Landlord

If the landlord intends to terminate the lease under these conditions, they must offer the tenant alternative accommodation. This accommodation should be:

Proximity: Close to the tenant’s current home, minimizing disruption to the tenant’s life.

Suitability: Corresponding to the tenant’s needs and financial capabilities, ensuring the tenant moves to a suitable alternative.

These laws protect vulnerable tenants and landlords, ensuring that evictions and lease terminations are handled fairly and responsibly.

How can a tenant challenge the leave given by the owner?

The tenant may contest the leave.

In particular, it may be used for at least one of the following reasons:

  1. The leave letter does not contain the reason for the leave;
  2. The leave letter was not sent to all tenants (e.g., leave was sent to only one of the two spouses);
  3. The letter of leave was sent by simple letter;
  4. The period of notice shall be less than three/six months;
  5. The leave was granted to a protected tenant;
  6. The landlord issued a leave to sell fraudulently.
    This is the case, for example, where the owner sets a very high price to discourage any buyer. In this case, the owner shall be liable to a criminal fine of €6,000 maximum (€30,000 maximum if a legal person). They may also be ordered to pay damages to the tenant.

What does the letter of leave have to say?

The letter of leave addressed to the tenant must specify:

  • The reason for the leave;
  • The name and address of the tenant;
  • The relationship between the owner and the tenant;
  • A real and serious nature of the leave.

The landlord may refuse to allow the lease to continue and may decide to give the tenant leave for severe and legitimate reasons.

This is when the tenant does not fulfill at least one of his obligations. For example, if the tenant causes trouble in the neighborhood, pays his rent with repeated delays, or does not provide proof of home insurance.

This is also the case when the owner wants to do specific work, such as major renovations on the housing.

What are the rules of a mobility lease?

The mobility lease is a lease signed between the owner of a furnished dwelling and a tenant considered a temporary occupant. It is for between 1 and 10 months. Renewal of a mobility lease is prohibited.

When the lease expires, the landlord does not need to give the lessee leave notice to terminate the mobility lease.

A formal notice to claim unpaid rent (mise en demeure)

If the first attempt fails, the owner can initiate the rent collection procedure and send a tenant a formal overdue payment reminder letter by registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt, called “mise en demeure.”

How do you write a formal notice for unpaid rent?

Unlike the first reminder, this late rent notice must be clear in form and content, as it has legal weight. The formal notice letter for due rent must be date-stamped, and the subject, the recipient (tenant), and the sender’s contact details (owner) as well as a payment deadline must be specified. 

The letter of formal notice for unpaid rent must include the following essential details:

  • The amount of rent due (rent and rental charges)
  • The amount overdue (number of months)
  • The payment deadline.
  • Penalties incurred

The letter should also give clear notice of the potential consequences of non-payment, such as:

  • A right to terminate the lease;
  • Expulsion of the tenant;
  • Legal action to recover the sums due if the tenant fails to pay within the deadline.

It’s advisable to have a professional lawyer draft the formal notice for unpaid rent. In the meantime, here is an accessible copy.

Only after sending out this formal notice can the owner take legal action to collect the unpaid rent and end the tenancy.

The huissier should manage the letter from the landlord to the tenant to ensure that all elements comply with the law and that the correct terminology is used throughout.

The landlord is responsible for organizing the date for the final key handover, inventory check, and condition report (état des lieux de sortie).

Long before employing the services of a huissier, the landlord must start gathering records, proof, and correspondence that can help to support the case if the worst happens. The French courts are the 3rd stage of a drawn-out procedure, so it would be beneficial wherever a matter could be resolved before then.

The rules for colocation / flatshare

The landlord or their representative has the right to ask the tenants (roommates) to move out, but this request must be made in a specific way and within a certain timeframe as required by the law. It’s essential to note that the process differs based on what’s written in the lease.

If the lease includes a “solidarity clause,” then the landlord can notify only one of the roommates, but it legally applies to all. This means that all roommates are informed and can move out together.

Suppose the lease does not have a solidarity clause. In that case, the landlord must send a separate move-out notice to each roommate individually, ensuring that each roommate knows the situation and leaves the property at the appropriate time.

By following these procedures, we can ensure that all parties are informed and that the move-out process is as smooth and fair as possible.

Legal resources and references

Here are some critical legal resources and references that can help you navigate the rules regarding lease termination (résiliation de bail) by a landlord in France:

1. French Legislation

Law No. 89-462 of July 6, 1989: This law, often referred to as the “Loi de 89” or “Loi Mermaz,” governs residential leases and provides detailed provisions on the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants, including the conditions and notice periods for lease terminations. Legifrance provides access to this and other laws in French.

2. Government and Official Sites

Service-Public.fr: This is the official public service website of the French administration. It provides comprehensive information on housing regulations, including detailed sections on tenancy agreements, the rights of tenants and landlords, and procedures for lease termination.

3. Professional Legal Advice

Local Tenants’ Associations: Organizations such as the ANIL (Agence Nationale pour l’Information sur le Logement) offer guidance and support to tenants and landlords on housing laws. ANIL is a national organization that advises landlords (propriétaire) and tenants (locataire) on legal, financial, and fiscal matters related to tenancy contracts. The website, in French, details all documents and obligations relevant to a tenancy agreement.

Lawyers Specializing in Real Estate Law: Consulting a lawyer specializing in real estate or tenancy law can be crucial for receiving tailored legal advice, especially in complex cases. The French Bar Association (Ordre des Avocats) can help find qualified lawyers.

4. Educational Resources

Universities and Law Schools like Sorbonne Law School: Many French law schools provide public resources or run clinics where law students offer advice under the supervision of experienced attorneys. These can be valuable resources for understanding legal texts and rights.

5. Online Legal Platforms

Legalstart: This is an online platform where you can obtain legal documents and also get assistance from legal professionals in France. It’s beneficial for routine legal needs, including drafting lease agreements or termination notices.

Template for a lease termination letter given by a landlord

Remember, this template should be adapted to the specific circumstances and in compliance with French law:

Name

Address

City, Postal Code

Phone Number 

Email Address

Date

Tenant’s Name 

Tenant’s Address

City, Postal Code

Subject: Notice of Lease Termination for [Address of the Rental Property]

Dear [Tenant’s Name],

I am writing to formally notify you of the termination of your lease agreement for the property located at [Address of the Property]. This termination is by Article 15 of Law No. 89-462 of July 6, 1989, governing residential leases in France.

Please be advised that the lease will terminate on [Date – typically three months from the date of this notification for unfurnished properties], which is your official notice period required by law.

Choose the appropriate reason and modify the letter accordingly:

1. Personal Use: I intend to reclaim the property for personal use as I/my immediate family member will be moving into the property.

2. Sale of Property: I have decided to sell the property, and this termination is necessary to proceed with the sale.

3. Legitimate and Serious Reasons: Due to [specify reasons, such as repeated late payments, significant violation of lease terms, etc.], I am compelled to terminate this lease.

Please ensure that the property is vacated by the date above and returned in the same condition as at the beginning of the tenancy, normal wear and tear excepted. I would like to schedule a final walk-through inspection of the property on [suggest a date], or we can arrange a different date that is mutually convenient.

It is also important to settle all outstanding utility bills and ensure the property is clean and free of all personal belongings. Upon successful inspection and return of the keys, your security deposit will be returned within the legal timeframe, minus any deductions for damages if applicable.

If you have any questions or need further clarification regarding this notice, please feel free to contact me directly.

Thank you for your attention to this matter, and I appreciate your cooperation in ensuring a smooth transition.

Sincerely,

Your Signature

Your Printed Name

Notes:

Alternatively, you can use a personalized template for a cancellation letter to your tenant. Simply fill out our online form, and then download your letter in Word and PDF format.

Please send this letter by registered mail with an acknowledgment of receipt (lettre recommandée avec accusé de réception) to ensure you have proof of delivery.

Customize the notice period and reasons according to the specific circumstances and local regulations, mainly if the rental property is in a tense zone or other factors that might legally alter the standard notice period or conditions.

To ensure accuracy and compliance with the latest legal requirements, you might want to consult the following resources or seek advice from a professional:

  • Legifrance
  • Service-Public.fr
  • A local notaire or a lawyer specializing in real estate law – Legal professionals can offer personalized advice and ensure that any legal document, including a lease termination notice, complies with current regulations and specific circumstances.

 

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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