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Types of Apartments in France: Everything You Wanted to Know

Discover the variety of apartment rental options in France, ranging from unfurnished and furnished apartments to specialized setups like co-living spaces and corporate rentals. Find out about the French classification system for apartments from studios to T5 structure.
Photo by Nil Castellví on Unsplash

 

In France, many choose to live in apartments. Metropolitan locations draw residents because of their higher population density, which results in a dominance of apartments in high-rise city buildings or smaller suburban complexes.

France has diverse housing preferences depending on region, financial level, and personal preferences.

When it comes to buying property in France, there are usual types of properties available (houses, apartments, villas, chambres d’hôtes – guesthouse, B&B, Gîte – holiday cottage). But there are also homes specific to France (Batside, Château, Domaine, Fermette, Hôtel Particulier, Longère, Mas, Maison à colombages, Maison Bourgeois/Maison de Maître, Pavilion, Pied-à-terre, Villa d’architecte).

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 (meublé) 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. Primarily designed for students in France, colocation or coloc allows you to rent a room in a shared apartment. 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.

When relocating to Paris, you may encounter advertisements for chambres de bonnes. Former maids’ quarters are usually found on the top level of classic Haussmann-style houses. They frequently have shared restrooms and are very tiny.

Renting An Apartment

An apartment can be described as T1, T2, T3, T4, or T5, where T stands for “type” (kind), and 1-5 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

Please note that three large rooms can be larger than four small ones; a T4 does not always have to be larger than a T3. To qualify as such, a room needs to be at least nine square meters in area and at least 2.20 meters high.

Also, French count floor levels differently. They refer to the ground floor of an apartment building as le rez-de-chaussée, and the first floor as the level above the ground. In other words, an apartment in France on the fifth floor is comparable to one in the US on the sixth floor.

The Carrez Law and The Boutin Law

According to the law, you can determine your apartment’s living area with extreme precision.

The Carrez law specifies that only housing areas with ceilings at least 1.80 meters above the ground are counted. The square meters taken up by steps, walls, cabinets, and other obstructions don’t count.

Boutin law advocates for heated rooms. This does not include space used for parking places, terraces, balconies, etc. An expert, usually a real estate professional, conducts this highly controlled calculation.These regulations prevent any ambiguities and ensure very accurate comparisons between different homes.

Co-living

Recently, co-living has gained popularity in France as a novel real estate concept. It combines the more cost-effective method of shared residences with the ease of short-term rentals or vacation accommodations.
The idea originated in reaction to the scarcity of affordable housing, continuous increase in rent, the high cost of lodging, and the overcrowding in large cities such as Paris.

The main focus of co-living is combined luxury and comfort, where tenants have separate areas and a shared communal area. Each resident has a private room, and there are common areas that encourage a sense of community among residents.

In France, co-living arrangements typically last for ten months on average.

Therefore, it is like a typical long-term lease for furnished rentals rather than a short-term rental agreement or lodging for tourists.
Co-livers are tenants who generally require a temporary place to live. They could be business travelers visiting France briefly, expatriates who recently relocated there but lack the resources to establish a primary residence, or students attending French universities.

Furthermore, individuals who work from their primary houses frequently use co-living rentals.

In most cases, a co-living rental property consists of the following. Each tenant is entitled to a private room unless they are married. A studio or small apartment with a private kitchen and bathroom might be a co-living property.

Nonetheless, a private room in co-living homes and apartments typically measures 17 square meters.
Kitchens, living rooms, patios, gardens, coworking spaces, gyms, libraries, kitchens, and entertainment rooms are common areas of a co-living home that are accessible to all residents.

Well-managed co-living spaces frequently provide a wide array of amenities. Some examples are high-speed internet, housekeeping, linens, cleaning services, monitored parking, the supply of bikes or scooters, home insurance, maintenance, water, heating, and so forth.

Advantages of co-living

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

  • 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.

Finding a roommate abroad can be tricky, but this guide offers solutions to find your perfect match in France.

Corporate Rental

Did you know that there are apartments specifically designed for business travelers? They’re called corporate apartments (executive or business apartments) and offer upscale living spaces catering to all your needs.

Corporate lease apartments are a great option if you’re looking for something between a short-term rental and a traditional lease. With flexible lease terms and fully furnished units, they provide the perfect solution for busy business travelers like you.

Corporate housing is furnished accommodation perfect for professionals on temporary assignments, relocations, or extended business stays. The best part is that you get a home-like environment without committing to a long-term lease—it’s a turnkey solution that makes life much easier!

This type of housing can come in many forms, from executive and serviced apartments to furnished houses or condominiums. 

Subletting

When a renter who rents a property from a landlord chooses to rent it to a different tenant or subtenant, this is subletting. The subtenant pays the original tenant, who then pays the landlord. The first renter is still in charge of adhering to their lease’s conditions, which include property maintenance and rent payments.

The renter who sublets the property receives money from a subtenant. However, it is not subletting if tenants allow friends or family to remain in the property without receiving anything in return.

Similarly, even if a tenant continues to pay rent but gives the property to a third party, it will still be considered subletting.
In France, subletting is generally legal.

It is controlled even though it isn’t illegal. Tenants who want to sublease the space they currently rent from their owner/landlord must get permission in advance.
Let’s say you have a one-year lease and, six months into it, you must move for personal or professional reasons—out of state or to a different location. One option is to break your lease, although this might be costly. That’s where subletting comes in.

Renting your flat to someone else for those six months is an alternative that can save you money.

Note: Subletting social housing or low-rent units is absolutely prohibited, except for the following situations:

1. An association or social organization established for vulnerable groups—students, the elderly, those with impairments, etc.—is the tenant-lessor.
2. The subtenant receives approval from the General Council or falls into one of the vulnerable groups (students, elderly, individuals with disabilities, etc.).

 Are you interested to learn about risks and benefits for tenants and subtenants? Check out our digest What Is Subletting, and How to Rent to a Subtenant in France?

Subleasing

Subletting involves renting your apartment to someone else while you remain responsible for the lease. On the other hand, subleasing consists of transferring the lease to the subtenant for their stay.

The key distinction is that the tenant subleasing the property is no longer obligated to adhere to their original lease terms 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 a third person. That person (the sublessee) takes over the first tenant’s lease and agrees to pay the landlord for all bills and payments moving forward.

Subletting vs. Subleasing

If you’re a tenant who needs to leave your rental property temporarily but plans to return, subletting 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, subleasing 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.

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

Bonus Tips

A List of Essential Amenities

One of the best methods is to make three lists—one for what you absolutely must have, one for what you would prefer to have but can live without, and one for what would be lovely but a true luxury.

The following are some amenities that you might want to think about:

  • Do you want the building to have laundry facilities?
  • Is air conditioning a must?
  • Will you need a nearby parking space?
  • How important is having an outdoor space?
  • Which kind of security conveniences would you prefer?
  • Is it necessary to have a gym on-site?
  • Does the apartment need to be pet-friendly?
  • Would you rather the neighborhood had a lot going on (activities, etc.)?
  • What is the local Wi-Fi speed? Does it meet your requirements?
  • How much room do you need for storage?

Vocabulary

  • un appartement (appart’) – an apartment
  • une agence immobilière – a real estate agency
  • une location – a rental
  • le loyer – the rent
  • un bail – a lease
  • meublé, non meublé – furnished, unfurnished
  • une annonce – a listing
  • un·e locataire – a tenant
  • un·e propriétaire – a landlord
  • une sous-location (sous-loc) – a sublease
  • une pièce – a room
  • un balcon – a balcony
  • une chambre – a bedroom
  • un jardin – a garden, a yard
  • une place de parking/stationnement – a parking space
  • une cave – a basement storage space

Instructions For Scanning French Rental Ads

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

Handy shortcuts:

Fantastic apartments come and go, but all you need is one to accept, and you’ll call your new apartment “chez moi!” To succeed in the French apartment quest, you’ll need persistence, timing, and preparation—just like you would with a job application.

YOU DID IT!

Now that you’ve found your perfect apartment, you’re ready for the next steps: the application process, understanding apartment leases, learning about tenants’ rights and duties, knowing methods and legalities for paying your rent, getting renters’ insurance, resolving potential disputes with your landlord or finding the right attorney in case of legal matters. Take the initiative and ask the right questions!

Do you need help finding your next new home? Wunderflats offers a wide range of selected furnished apartments for rent. Let us help you find your new home in France worry-free!

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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