EN
DE
FR

How to Rent an Apartment in France: Step-by-Step Guide You’ll Need

Learn about various rentals and how to search for a place in France. Get familiar with the different renter’s fees and what to pay attention to when renting an apartment.
How to rent an apartment in France

Step 1: Understanding the French Rental Market

Types of rental properties

Step 2: Preparing Your Rental Application

Step 3: Searching for an Apartment

Step 4: Viewing Properties and Interacting with Landlords or Agents

Step 5: Understanding Rental Agreements

Step 6: Moving In

Step 7: Living in Your Rental

Step 8: Preparing to Move Out

Step 1: Understanding the French Rental Market

Types of rental properties

Unfurnished and furnished apartments 

Generally, unfurnished (vide) apartments are for extended stays and offer better tenant rights with a minimum 3-year contract. 

Furnished (meublée) apartments are for short-term stays with 1-year contracts and are less flexible regarding tenant rights.

According to the French government’s legal definition, a furnished property has bedding, a stove, kitchen utensils and equipment (stove, oven, microwaves, etc.), a fridge, a freezer, storage shelves, tables and seats, lighting, etc.

Unfurnished apartments usually come upholstered (flooring, curtains, paint, and lights). But in some cases, people also rent out properties bare.

Renting a room

Colocation

If you don’t mind living with others, you can rent a room in a shared apartment in colocation. Colocation or coloc is primarily for students in France. You can sign one lease per renter or one lease for all renters. Check out the rules from the French government before renting in colocation.

Chambre chez l’habitant / Chambre de bonne

Another option is to rent a chambre chez l’habitant (bedroom inside a home) or a chambre de bonne (former maid’s quarters). Chambre chez l’habitant means you have your bedroom and share the common areas (kitchen, bathroom, restrooms) with the owner. Chambre de bonne is a room on the top floor of an old apartment building, and you might have to share the restrooms (outside your chambre) with other tenants.

Renting an apartment

An apartment can be described as T1, T2, T3, T4, or T5, where T stands for “type” (kind), and the following # indicates the number of rooms, not counting the kitchen, bathroom, and restroom.

Some renting ads still use an old naming convention with an F for function instead of a T, while others list the number of pièces (rooms), again not counting kitchen, bathroom, and restroom.

Different types of apartments in France:

Studio  A one-room apartment with a kitchen area (often called a kitchenette) located inside the main room. By law, the minimal square footage is 9m2.  
Duplex  A two-story apartment with a staircase inside the apartment.
T1 or une pièce  A one-room apartment with a separate kitchen and bathroom  
T2 or deux pièces  An apartment with one bedroom, one living room, one kitchen, and one bathroom  
T2 Bis  The same as a T2, but one of the rooms (living room or bedroom) is big enough to be separated into two areas  
T3 or trois pièces  An apartment with one living room and two bedrooms  
T3 Bis  The same as a T3, but one of the rooms (living room or one of the bedrooms) is big enough to be separated into two areas  
T4 or quatre pièces  Can either have one living room and three bedrooms or one living room, one dining room, and two bedrooms
T5 or cinq pièces  Can either have  one living room and four bedrooms or one living room, one dining room, and three bedrooms
Types of apartments

Instructions in searching

You will come across these abbreviations when scanning French rental ads:

CC– charges comprises   charges included  
DPE – diagnostic de performance énergétique   Energy performance diagnosis. A DPE is mandatory for all rentals and is part of a French rental lease agreement. DPE scores range from A to G, with G being the worst.  
EDL – état des lieux   Inventory and condition report  
FAI – frais d’agence inclus   Real estate agency fees included  
GLI – Garantie des loyers impayés   Owner’s insurance on rented properties  
GES – gas à effet de serre   Greenhouse gas emissions. GES class is part of the energy performance diagnosis (DPE)  
RDC – rez-de-chaussée   Ground floor  
SDB – salle de bain   Bathroom  
TBE – très bon état   Very good state  
TTC – toutes charges comprises All charges included  
Visites sur RDV – visites sur rendez-vous   Showings on scheduled appointments only  
Appt– un appartement   Apartment  
Asc – ascenseur   Elevator  
Chb – Chambre   Bedroom  
Un canapé BZ   Sofa bed  
Chauff – chauffage   Heating  
Disp – disponible   Available  
Expo – exposition (N S E O)   Rental orientation
Abbreviations

Co-living

Co-living is a new real estate concept that has become popular in France recently. It combines the convenience of short-term rentals (i.e., vacation accommodations) and the more economical approach of shared apartments.

The concept was born as a response to limited access to proper housing, continuous rise in rent, expensive accommodations, and overcrowding in big cities like Paris. 

Coliving is mostly about housing, combining luxury and comfort, where tenants have private spaces and a common area to share with others. The rental comprises private rooms for each resident and shared spaces that encourage a sense of community between them. 

Generally, the average duration of a co-living arrangement in France is ten months. Therefore, one does not consider it a short-term rental lease or tourist accommodations but a standard long-term lease for furnished rentals.

Generally speaking, co-livers are those who need a temporary home—for example, a business traveler on a short-term stay in France, an expatriate who just moved to the country but doesn’t have the means to acquire a principal residence yet, and, of course, students who are studying at a university in France. 

Moreover, it’s common for people who have work done at their principal residences to stay in a co-living rental. 

A typical co-living rental property most often includes:

Every tenant (unless they’re a married couple) has the right to their private room in a co-living property. Co-living property can consist of a studio unit or a small apartment with a private bathroom and kitchen. However, a private room has an average size of 17 square meters for co-living houses and apartments. 

Parts of a co-living home that anyone and everyone can use and access commonly are kitchens, living rooms, terraces, libraries, coworking spaces, entertainment rooms, gardens, patios, etc. 

Professionally run co-living properties often offer a wide range of services. These include high-speed internet, cleaning, linen, streaming platform subscriptions, monitored parking, provision of bicycles or scooters, home insurance, maintenance, water, heating, etc.

What are the advantages of co-living?

This new form of housing is as popular with tenants as it is with investors because of its many advantages.

For Tenants:

  • Tenants can enjoy affordable housing, especially in big, expensive cities like Paris.
  • Tenants also save on utility bills such as electricity, water, heating, etc. 
  • They offer lots of flexibility, especially regarding the type of lease. 
  • The opportunity to meet and live with people with the same interests.
  • Enjoy the various amenities that co-living properties often have (i.e., gyms, libraries, entertainment rooms, etc.). 

Subletting

Subletting is when a tenant currently renting a property on an existing lease rents the exact property out to a third party with financial compensation.

Depending on the lease’s terms, tenants are free to share or rent out the property they’re renting to others. But when they earn from it, it becomes subletting.

The critical distinction is that the tenant subletting the property earns financial compensation. But if they let others, be they friends or family, stay in the property without gaining anything, that is not considered subletting. 

Similarly, any tenant who leaves the property at the hands of a third party, even though they’re still paying the rent, will still be considered subletting.

Subletting is generally legal in France. However, while it is not prohibited, it is regulated. Tenants wishing to sublet the property they’re currently renting must obtain prior authorization from their owner/landlord. 

Let’s say you’ve signed a one-year lease and, with six months left, suddenly find that you need to move out of the state or to a new city for a job or personal reasons. Breaking your lease is one option, but it can be costly. That’s where subletting comes in. Renting your apartment to someone else for those six months is a great alternative that can save you a bundle of money. 

Note:

Subletting low-rent or social housing is strictly forbidden except in the following specific cases:

  • The tenant-lessor is an association or a social organization established for vulnerable groups (i.e., students, people with disabilities, senior citizens, etc.)
  • The subtenant belongs to a vulnerable group (students, people with disabilities, senior citizens, etc.) or receives approval from the General Council.

What are the advantages of subletting?

  • The tenant gets to earn financial compensation when they sublet the property.
  • Subletting allows the tenant to be away (in light of certain situations) from the property without terminating their current lease.
  • The subtenant stays in temporary accommodations while they look for a new residence. 
  • Subtenants don’t have to pay a security deposit, financial guarantee, or agency fees.

When subletting, you must send an official letter to your landlord stating your reason for subletting, information about the flat, and duration.

Also, you can’t sublet it for higher than the original rent price.

Remember that subletting without the landlord’s approval leads to termination of the rental agreement and massive fines.

What are the risks for tenants and subtenants? 

For The Subtenant

  • Subtenants cannot enjoy the same rights as the standard tenant. 
  • Unwritten contracts and agreements are also standard in subletting, which can be risky (scams, no proof of payment, etc.).
  • If there are no rental receipts, the subtenant will not have to provide this information when applying for another rental. 
  • If the standard tenant’s lease terminates, the subtenant will also lose the right to remain in the property.
  • As there is no direct and legal relationship between the subtenant and the owner, the owner can’t directly communicate with the subtenant in the event of major work needed on the property.

For The Tenant

  • The tenant remains liable for any damage to the property. 
  • Illegal subletting comes with heavy financial penalties that the tenant has to answer for.
  • If there are no written agreements between the tenant and subtenant, the tenant cannot sue the subtenant for violated terms (unpaid bills, damages, nuisances, etc.).
  • The tenant risks terminating the lease with the owner/landlord because of the subtenant.
  • The standard tenant can request a rental guarantee, also known as a security deposit, from their subtenant(s). Although this is not a legal obligation, owners/landlords often require a rental guarantee. In the same principle, tenants who intend to sublet the property can also set the exact requirements. 

Subleasing

Subleasing occurs when a tenant renting a property from a landlord decides to rent it out to another person, known as the subtenant. The subtenant pays rent to the original tenant, who pays rent to the landlord. The original tenant is still responsible for the terms of their lease with the landlord, including paying rent and maintaining the property.

Subletting is similar to subleasing in that it involves a tenant renting a property to another person. However, there is one key difference: the tenant subletting the property is not responsible for the terms of their lease with the landlord.

Instead, the subtenant enters into a new lease agreement directly with the landlord. Put simply, sublet means renting out the room or apartment you currently rent to another person. That person (the sublessee) takes over the remainder of your lease and agrees to pay you (the sublettor) for all bills and payments moving forward. To sublet can also mean renting out someone else’s room.

Subletting vs. subleasing

If you’re a tenant who needs to leave your rental property temporarily but plans to return, subleasing may be the best option for you. This allows you to keep your lease with the landlord while still offsetting the cost of rent. 

On the other hand, subletting may be a better option if you’re a tenant who needs to leave your rental property permanently. This allows you to transfer your lease to the subtenant and remove yourself from any obligations to the landlord.

Subletting and subleasing may seem similar, but they have a key difference. Subletting involves renting your apartment to someone else while you remain responsible for the lease. On the other hand, subleasing involves transferring the lease to the subtenant for the duration of their stay.

It’s crucial to remember that you cannot sublet or sublease an apartment without obtaining the landlord’s permission first. Ignoring this step can lead to serious consequences, including legal action and even eviction.

Step 2: Preparing Your Rental Application

Required documents for renting in France

To give yourself every chance of success, check that you have all the documents you need for your application. This will ensure you have a complete file to give the landlord at the end of your visit.

The documents you will usually be asked for:

  • French or foreign identity document (ID, passport)
  • Proof of address: in general, the last three rental payments or property tax notices
  • Your residence permit
  • Student card or education certificate
  • Internship or employment contract if you have a student job
  • Means of financial support (employment contract, three last payslips, bank statements)
  • Notice of allocation – even conditional – of a social criteria grant

The documents your guarantor will usually be asked for:

  • French or foreign identity document
  • Proof of address
  • Employment contract 
  • Last three payslips or last three statements of pension payments
  • Last or penultimate tax statement

See the complete list of documents that a landlord can or is not allowed to ask for 

The French Government has made available a list (www.legifrance.gouv.fr) of what is admitted in terms of documents to request by a landlord and a tenant to his landlord.

The Guarantor

When an ad mentions garant exigé or caution exigée, you need a guarantor. A guarantor must promise in writing to pay your rent if you do not pay for any reason.

Finding a rental in France is complicated when you do not have a CDI or Contrat à Durée Indéterminée (unlimited long-term employment contract) in France. Most agencies and landlords do not consider non-French resources.

This is why many expats in France resort to using a guarantor. Guarantor companies are not free, but these services are often lifesavers for expats looking for a rental. 

For example, retired Americans with no CDI have difficulty finding a French landlord accepting Social Security statements or extensive bank deposits.

Indeed, even if the income is high, the fact that it is from foreign sources does not reassure the owners (no recourse can be prohibited if you leave the territory).

For this and to reassure the owner about your solvency, several solutions are available to you:

  • Pay rent in advance (over several months or in whole).
  • Ask your employer in France to be a guarantor.
  • Ask a loved one, family members, friends, etc, to be a guarantor.
  • Call on a company (companies, banks, associations), an organization specializing in guarantors (guarantee organizations) as 

    garantme.fr

This is a common request from landlords, who want the name of a French resident who can pay the rent if you cannot. Obviously, this isn’t easy if you’re new to the country.

Although not every landlord wants a guarantor, it’s a common question. If you cannot find one, get an agent to help you find landlords who don’t require this form of surety.

The lessor has the right to request proof of your income. You may also have to provide details of a guarantor who will be named in the contract and who will stand surety if you cannot pay the rent.

Garantie Visale

Action Logement offers the Garantie Visale, a free rental deposit guarantee designed to help you more easily secure a rental property. It’s available to tenants entering private rental housing.

You’re eligible if you’re under 31 years old, regardless of your job situation (including students and those in vocational training). Individuals over 31 years old must be employed in the private sector with a net salary of €1,500 or less, or they must be transitioning jobs, such as starting a new job or working on a short-term contract.

Visale is a guarantor for your rent and charges, covering you in case you can’t pay. This makes your rental application stronger and helps reassure your landlord.

The guarantee covers all due rent and charges in case of payment issues, as well as any damages to the property, throughout the entire lease term, including renewals. Private rental housing covers up to 36 months of unpaid rent and charges, and social housing rented to students covers up to 9 months.

Step 3: Searching for an Apartment

Best websites and platforms to find rental listings

If you plan on renting a place in France, you need to know many things, from what the owner/landlord will require of you to your rights and responsibilities. First, you need to find a property to rent, so we compiled a handy list of online housing resources to help you get started.

To help get you off to a running start in your search, here are some of the most popular websites and agencies: HomelikeParis RentalPAP (short for Particulier à Particulier), Housing anywhereLeboncoinFUSAC (originally designed for American expats), AirbnbSelogerJinka, Wunderflats.

For flat shares and co-living check out AppartagerColiving in Paris, or Facebook groups (particularly beneficial for expats who don’t speak French).

Whether you’re buying or renting, check out our listing of expat-friendly online housing portals based in France:

Using agencies vs. direct landlord listings

Now that you’ve read about the rules and responsibilities, it’s time to start looking for a rental in France. But what’s the best way?

In France, you can rent directly from landlords (particulier à particulier) or rental agencies (agent immobilier). When you book through agencies, you’ll also pay administrative fees.

You may be asked to pay extra fees if you have used a letting agency to find your accommodation.

For which services?

  1. Visiting the accommodation
  2. Compiling the application
  3. Drafting the lease
  4. The inventory

You cannot, for example, be asked to pay to reserve the accommodation.

Find out more about letting agency-regulated fees.

Additional tips for finding the apartment:

  1. Apartment rent (including utilities) should not exceed one-third of your net income. Remember that you must also provide your landlord with a security deposit.
  2. Set up a search alert so you are immediately notified by email when a new apartment meeting your criteria becomes available. 

Step 4: Viewing Properties and Interacting with Landlords or Agents

What to look for during property viewings

Your priority is to check that the accommodation is in good condition and everything works properly.

  • Check all the right places, test the equipment, and don’t hesitate to ask questions!
  • Beware of mold or moisture near windows, corners, and walls, particularly in the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Open/close doors and windows to check the insulation. Is there double glazing to keep out noise and keep in warmth? Does air get into all the corners?
  • Turn on the radiators, test the taps (warm/cold water), and test the electric power points to check the equipment.

If you can, we also recommend checking some additional points.

  • Is the area noisy?
  • How good is the Internet speed in the area?
  • What’s public transport like in the area?
  • What facilities are available near the accommodation, preferably within walking distance? (Shops, medical clinics, pharmacy, Post Office, etc.).

What you should know (and check) before signing the lease?

You like the accommodation, and your application has been accepted. Before signing the lease, make a few checks.

The rental agreement must state:             

  • The name and address of the landlord and the name of the tenant or tenants
  • The date on which the lease begins and its term
  • The words “residential lease”
  • The description of the accommodation (house, apartment, number of rooms, habitable surface area, etc.) and its equipment
  • The type and amount of work carried out in the accommodation since the last rental agreement
  • The rent amount and payment terms
  • The amount of the last rental payment made by the previous tenant
  • The guarantee deposit amount

How can you make sure you’re not being scammed?

One way to protect yourself against this situation is to correctly compile the état des lieux (inventory) when you move in. This should document everything on the property; however, ensure you’re satisfied with what it says.

Check that the appliances listed work, for example, and that the hot and cold water are functional. If you don’t raise objections at this stage, resolving issues later becomes more difficult.

Record any work you must do or pay for during your tenancy. If your landlord wishes to withhold some or all of your deposit when you leave, you can use this record of time and cash invested in the property to make your case for returning your deposit.

Finally, should you experience unfair treatment, lodging a complaint with your local council allows you to obtain expert assistance to address the issue.

Questions to ask landlords or agents

Before signing the contract, you should make some inquiries. Many of these will be answered in the tenancy agreement. However, it’s usually preferable to approach the landlord or agent directly for clarity.

Never underestimate the importance of asking the right questions. Failing to do so could lead to unforeseen issues or misunderstandings, so be sure to look for our Ultimate Landlord Questionnaire Checklist.

Step 5: Understanding Rental Agreements

Finding your accommodation in France involves lots of administrative work. To ensure you protect your rights as a tenant and avoid challenging situations with your landlord, learn about rental agreements, your obligations, and your tenant rights in France.

An apartment lease is a legally binding contract between a landlord and a tenant that specifies the terms and conditions of the rental arrangement. It covers vital details such as the rent amount, lease duration, responsibilities of both parties and any special provisions

Types of apartment leases

There are three common types of apartment leases:

1. The most typical type is a fixed-term lease with a set duration, usually one year. The tenancy agreement offers stability and protection for both the landlord and the tenant, as the conditions of the rent and lease typically remain unchanged until the expiration of the lease.

2. A month-to-month lease, also known as a periodic lease, doesn’t have a predetermined end date. Instead, it automatically renews at the end of each month unless one of the parties gives proper notice to terminate. These leases offer flexibility but can result in more frequent rent adjustments and less long-term stability.

3. Short-term leases last less than one year but are longer than a month-to-month arrangement. They are suitable for temporary housing, such as students or individuals working on assignments. Due to their flexibility and convenience, short-term leases may have higher monthly rents than long-term leases.

Legal rights and obligations of tenants and landlords

The tenant’s rights are what they may expect from their landlord, and his responsibilities are:

  • Right to have his privacy (the landlord has to seek his consent before having access to the property);
  • The decency of the accommodation;
  • The minimum standard of security.

Other parts of the tenancy agreement:

In the case of an unfurnished letting, the three-month notice period can be shortened to one month under the following circumstances:

  • Serious illness of tenant of at least 60 years of age justifying change of accommodation;
  • If the tenant (involuntarily) loses his job, obtains his first job, finds a new job following unemployment, or if his employment is transferred elsewhere (mutation professionnelle);
  • When the tenant receives social security supplementary benefits (Revenu de Solidarité Active),
  • The notice period cannot be reduced if the tenant resigns, retires, or changes his job. If the tenant does not respect the notice period, the landlord can make a legal claim for the unpaid period.

Security deposit

A landlord usually demands a damage deposit, which can be used to offset the property’s dilapidations (and rent arrears).

The damage deposit is known as a dépôt de garantie.

The amount of the deposit is, in part, regulated by the law: it is one month’s rent for unfurnished properties and two months’ rent for furnished flats.

Your landlord will ask you to pay a security deposit after you sign your rental contract and before you move in.

Unless otherwise stated, the tenant can’t use the deposit to pay last month’s rent.

You will receive your security deposit 60 days after moving out unless the property is damaged, in which case the landlord will retain the deposit to pay for the costs.

What are the differences between a deposit and a security deposit in the case of rental?

  • The deposit is an amount that the guarantor will pay in case of non-payment on the tenant’s part and is not refundable.
  • The tenant, not his guarantor, pays the security deposit. The landlord collects this sum at the lease’s signing and returns it to the tenant.

 Note:

A bank transfer would be best if you never handed over cash as a deposit. If you’re making an international money transfer that includes currency conversion, it’s worth finding the best possible deal so you don’t get caught with poor exchange rates.

Pets

There are also some contractual quirks in French rentals. Although they might try to build it into tenancy agreements, landlords in France cannot insist that you have no pets at the property, for example.

In France, a renter can have pets in his rental place if they do not become trouble. You do not have to inform your landlord and are responsible for any damage your pet might cause. The only exception is for certain dog races (pit bulls, rottweilers, or tosa) that are considered dangerous.

Contract

A written tenancy agreement is obligatory if the property is the tenant’s principal home.

The tenancy agreement is called a bail, or more formally, a contrat de location.

Specific clauses are obligatory to include within a tenancy agreement.

The agreement must state the tenant’s name and property details, as well as the commencement date of the tenancy, the duration of the tenancy, the type of use of the property, the amount of the rent, the amount of the rental deposit, and the size of the property (for unfurnished lettings only).

The lease agreement also specifies the day the renter pays the rent. It must contain a Dossier de Diagnostic Technique (DDT) and a technical report on the rental. The DDT also contains a diagnostic de performance énergétique (DPE), the apartment’s energy performance report. The report should describe the general state of the electricity installation.

Forbidden clauses

A surprising number of clauses are forbidden by law, including obligatory payment of the rent by standing order or directly from their salary and any obligation to take out an insurance policy proposed by the landlord.

It is also illegal for a landlord to refuse to accept domestic pets on the property, whether for an annual tenancy or holiday accommodation.

Your contract must legally detail the rent and charges due every month. Charges are paid in addition to the rent for services like cleaning common areas, waste disposal, and sometimes heating and water. Check the contract to see precisely which utilities it covers.

A convenient way to pay your rent is to get an RIB from your landlord and do a monthly direct debit. Relevé d’Identité Bancaire (RIB) or banking ID details refer to the document that holds your account details and the national bank account ID or RIB number.

You can also pay your rent by check or in cash if your rent is lower than €1,000.

Note:

If you explicitly require one, your landlord must give you a quittance de loyer (rent receipt). The tenant can ask the landlord to send a rent receipt in France. The rent receipt is proof of payment indicating that you paid the rent on time and didn’t owe money.

Types of leases for furnished rentals

When renting an apartment in France, you must know what kind of lease you’re signing.

There are various types of leases for furnished apartments, the ones you might encounter are:

1. The furnished residential lease (bail habitation meublé). This is when you intend to use the furnished apartment as your primary address. The contract ought to renew automatically at the end of each term. It will end legally only when you, the tenant, choose to break the lease or the landlord finds a good reason to terminate it. The minimum duration of this lease is one year.

2. The student lease (bail d’étudiant). This lease is a modified version of the contract mentioned above. When a student and a landlord are signing a furnished residential lease they can reduce the minimum duration to 9 months instead of one year.

3. A Bail Mobilité is a mobility lease for those temporarily living in Paris. (See more in subheading Mobility lease).

4. A Civil Code lease is a lease based on the provisions of the French Civil Code. It is therefore less strictly regulated than other leases because it can be made exempt from many provisions. It is important to know that it can only be used for the secondary residence of the tenant.

The Civil Code lease applies to people who wish to rent a second home, a pied-à-terre, but it can also apply to companies that want to rent for one of their employees or corporate use as part of a company housing, in this case, the lease would be called a company lease (bail de société). 
Embassies are often interested in this lease.

Holiday Lease

This is mainly for short-term, touristic rentals or Airbnb-type rentals.

The duration can always be at most 120 days (approximately four months) and is not renewable. Moreover, since this contract is set date-to-date, you can extend the lease if needed as long as it doesn’t go beyond 90 days after the original end date.

Can I get an apartment without a job?

There’s no legal reason why you can’t get a flat without a job. However, landlords will undoubtedly want to check that you can pay the rent for the duration of the lease.

It’s typical to provide some payslips to prove you have the income to cover the rental payments. As such, if you don’t have a job yet, you might need to offer additional proof to rent.

Can I pay my bills from abroad?  

Many expats tend to travel back home frequently, and there will be times when you need to pay your rent or bills, a deposit, or fees but might be out of the country, or you don’t have a local bank account or moving to France.

If you’re making an international money transfer to cover your costs, check out our insights on banking in France.

Duration of rental agreement in France

Typically, you can rent furnished apartments with short-term contracts, up to 1 year, and unfurnished apartments with long-term rental agreements, which are a minimum of 3 years if you’re an individual landlord, or 6 years if the property belongs to a company. When rented to students, contracts may last the academic year.

The tenancy can be less than three years, subject to a minimum of one year, where the landlord needs to recover the property for a specific and certain purpose that is known when the tenancy is granted.

There are only a limited number of such circumstances where this rule can be applied, such as using the property by a close relative for the birth of a child necessitating a larger home or for occupational reasons. The prospective sale of the property is not one of the reasons that can be used for a reduced duration tenancy.

Renewal of tenancy agreement

As the end of the lease approaches, you might wonder, “What now?” If neither party raises a flag to end the tenancy, and if you’ve been the model landlord (and your tenant, the model renter), the lease can sail smoothly into renewal. It’s a tacit nod to another three or six years for unfurnished rentals. Furnished leases? Another year of smooth rent.

If your contract allows renewals, you can extend your stay. In France, you can renew your contract by one year for furnished rentals and by three years for unfurnished rentals, with an option to renew again.

If the landlord hasn’t given you six months’ notice, you have a right to live in the rental even after your lease has expired. In this case, your contract will automatically renew for the duration of your original contract, and there’s no need to prepare a new one.

Mobility lease

“Bail Mobilité,” or the Mobility Lease, is a rental contract that covers only a short tenancy period. It’s suitable for a minimum of one month to a maximum of ten months. It’s designed for those who are only temporarily in France for their studies or work. 

However, it’s important to note that “Bail Mobilité” is separate from vacation rentals in Paris (AIRBNB-type rentals), aimed at tourists. 

It is an excellent alternative to the standard rental leases in France, which cover either nine months (for short-term rentals) or 12 months (for long-term rentals).

However, unlike standard rental leases, mobility leases cannot be renewed after the initial ten months. If the tenant requests an extended stay in the property, the landlord must offer a standard long-term rental lease instead. 

Mobility leases can be renewed once the total duration does not exceed ten months. If a tenant rents an apartment for five months with a Mobilité lease and wishes to extend his stay by three months in the same apartment, he can do so if the landlord agrees. In this case, the landlord renews the Mobility lease. On the other hand, this would be impossible if this tenant wished to stay for a further six months, i.e., 11 months.

Prospective tenants who can benefit from the mobility lease have to prove that they are:

  • In vocational training
  • Within higher education
  • In an apprenticeship contract
  • In internship
  • Enclosed by voluntary enlistment as part of a civic service
  • On a professional transfer or temporary assignment (temporary workers or seasonal workers)

What are the advantages of the tenant’s mobility lease “Bail Mobilité”?

1. Possibility to terminate the rental contract whenever the tenant wishes, provided that one month’s notice of departure is observed.

2. Subletting is possible, provided the tenant obtains the owner’s written agreement.

3. A contract without a security deposit.

4. If you are a tenant in France struggling to pay your rent or other charges, you may be eligible for a guarantee called “Visale.” This guarantee is available for your primary residence and covers up to 36 months of unpaid rent or charges, with a limit of €1,500 per month in Paris and €1,300 per month in the rest of France.

Additional costs: taxes and utilities

Utilities

When you rent accommodation, you pay “a provision for charges” monthly. This corresponds to a cost estimation linked to the production of water or electricity, for example.

You are supposed to receive a final calculation for regulation once per year. Your landlord must send you an invoice concerning the nature of these charges.

Most of the time, landlords arrange the utilities in furnished apartments, and the costs are included in the rental price. However, if you’re renting an unfurnished apartment, you must arrange the utilities yourself.

This typically involves contacting the relevant companies (e.g., electricity, gas, water) to set up accounts in your name. You’ll then be responsible for paying the bills directly to these companies.

Taxes

France has two local property taxes – the taxe d’habitation and the taxe foncière.

The former is the residence tax, payable by the tenant; the property ownership tax, the taxe foncière, is paid by the landlord. Liability to the tax has nothing to do with the amount of time you occupy the property.

Therefore, you must pay the annual residence tax (taxe d’habitation) as a tenant. The amount you’ll pay depends on the size of your apartment and its state, your income, and your municipality. In addition, if you have a TV at home, you’ll pay extra tax.

For clarity purposes, you need to ask your landlord or its agent to include the taxes that need to be paid by each party in the contract. For instance, property tax, city taxes, utility taxes, maintenance of communal areas taxes, etc.

However, taxe d’habitation was a housing tax for the person living in a property on January 1st. Since January 2023, this tax has been abolished on primary residences (résidence principale). As long as you’re renting a place that is your primary residence, you don’t have to pay taxe d’habitation. This is true even if the place you’re renting is a second home for your landlord.

Step 6: Moving In

Conducting the état des lieux (property condition report)

Every accommodation, whether furnished or unfurnished, requires the completion of a mandatory property condition report at the moment of your arrival and departure.

At this point, the landlord and tenant ensure the condition of the accommodation and that everything works out.

It is necessary to describe everything, room by room, piece of equipment by piece.

Do not hesitate to try the faucet, turn on the heat, or flush the toilet. If the apartment has a sleeper sofa, open it.

If there are holes in the wall, do not hesitate to mention it because your landlord may keep a portion of the security deposit when you move out. Additionally,  taking photos with the date should be considered, as it can be instrumental in the case of a dispute. As a general rule, avoid using approximate terms such as “good general state” without helpful information.

The landlord and the tenant create this report together. The report should include the state of each room, missing items, all existing damages, and if the apartment is clean. Ensure you take pictures and notify the landlord of missing items and damage. This way, you can avoid paying a fine at the end of your lease.

Third-party engagement

To prevent any disagreement with the landlord, you can use the service of a huissier (bailiff) when you create this report. Preparing the report will cost around €200-€300, which must be shared between the landlord and the tenant.

Usually, when you rent from a rental agency, the agency prepares this report, and its cost is included in the agency’s fee.

Tip:

If you notice a defect you did not see when drawing up the inventory, you have ten days to ask the landlord to complete the document.

If you’re renting from abroad and can’t do the inventory before you move, ensure you do it within 24 hours after moving into the apartment.

Find out more about the inventory.

Understanding French Home Insurance Requirements

Tenants occupying unfurnished accommodation are obliged to take out house insurance.

This insurance covers damage caused by fire, flood, natural disaster, etc, and may also cover theft and damage to personal belongings.

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

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

There is no obligation for a tenant of furnished or holiday accommodation to take out insurance. However, it is recommended that you consider doing so, as the tenant is responsible for their negligent actions. 

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, 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.

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

Step 7: Living in Your Rental

Disagreements with landlord

If you cannot solve the dispute alone, seek free legal advice from the tenants’ association.

Various approaches can be used to deal with disputes with your landlord.

There are three primary official advisory services.

  • Housing Information Agency (ANIL)

This is the official government housing advice agency, with offices in most towns of France.

  • County Consumer Protection Dept (DGCCRF)

The trading standards officers are based in your local prefecture.

  • Legal Advice Centre (CDAD)

Legal advice centers are based in most main towns, some of which are free and others only accessible on a means-tested basis. These advice centres are called Conseil Départemental de l’Accès au Droit (CDAD).

  • There is also an official government-sponsored mediation service called the Commission Départementale de Conciliation (CDC) or

    Department of Conciliation.

The CDCs are based in the préfecture.

Generally, if you are considering legal action, you must first resolve the matter through the CDC.

You would undoubtedly be best advised to speak to them first.

Their decisions are not binding on either landlord or tenant, so their ability to resolve disputes is not without some limitations.

Good to know:

  1. Does your landlord have the right to repossess your rental housing because he may intend to house his family or sell the unit?

Your landlord must give you a notice via registered letter with a return receipt or by the bailiff at least six months before the expiry of the lease time.

Otherwise, the notice has no legal or binding force. You have two months to decide if it is valid. If you refuse to leave the property at the end of the lease, the landlord may apply to the court to validate the notice and request the eviction.

  • Rental places in France do not offer indoor common areas. Do not expect amenities like a laundry room, a gym, a fitness center, a pool, or an elevator. Some newer apartments have AC, but this is still pretty unusual.

  • Although the tenant is required to grant the landlord access to fulfill their repairing obligations, this does not include the right of access to improvement works. Other than the right of access to carry out repairs and collect the rent, the landlord can only enter the property with the tenant’s consent.

  • A tenant’s credit score is a numerical rating that represents creditworthiness, or likelihood to repay debts on time. Credit scores range from 300 to 850, with higher scores indicating better creditworthiness. Credit scores are calculated based on various factors, including:

  1. Payment history: Whether tenants have paid bills on time.
  2. Credit utilization: How much of the available credit has the tenant used?
  3. Length of credit history: How long tenants have had credit accounts open?
  4. Credit mix: The types of tenants’ credit accounts (e.g., credit cards, loans).
  5. New credit: How many new credit accounts have the tenant opened recently?

Step 8: Preparing to Move Out

Termination: minimum notice period to end your contract

Suppose your contract doesn’t state the definite end time, or you want to move out of the apartment before this date. In this case, you must give a written notice (recommended) delivered to the landlord by a bailiff (hustler) or via registered post within the determined notice period (called le congé).

For unfurnished long-term apartments, the notice period to end your contract is up to 3 months for tenants and six months for landlords.

The minimum notice period for short-term furnished rental contracts is one month for the tenant and three months for the landlord.

In some cases, one-year contracts don’t have a let-go period; in this case, you must stay until the one-year is finished. However, if your furnished rental agreement includes a mobility lease (bail mobilité) clause, you can end your contract by giving one month’s notice.

Is a lease renewal or extension the best option when your rental term ends? 

A lease renewal is a document you use when you renew or sign another lease. It creates a new agreement between the property manager and the renter. Your landlord should send you a lease renewal within 60 to 90 days of your lease expiration date.

Since a lease renewal creates a new contract, changes to the agreement may include a rent increase.

Contract renewal may vary, but the most common agreements are month-to-month, biannual, or annual. 

A lease extension is an agreement that allows you to extend the conditions of your current lease agreement for a short period. It typically does not include any changes in a rent increase.

A lease extension extends the current contract.

A lease extension typically extends the current contract for 30 to 60 days, but it won’t usually exceed 90 days.

Share:

More Posts

Photo by Jarek Ceborski on Unsplash
Complete List of Tenant Duties in the French Apartment Rentals

Embarking on a rental journey in France means more than just signing a lease; it involves embracing a suite of responsibilities that ensure both peace and functionality in your new home. From the adrenaline of timely rent payments to the satisfaction of maintaining your space, every tenant has a pivotal role in crafting their living experience.

Read More »
Photo by Bruno Abatti on Unsplash
A Comprehensive Guide to Living in Paris

Steeped in culture, fashion, and cuisine, Paris offers a lifestyle unlike any other. This guide unlocks the secrets of living in this captivating city, where every day is an opportunity to embrace the art of living (l’art de vivre).

Read More »