RENT­ING A PROP­ERTY IN FRANCE

Rent­ing a prop­erty is a good way to find out what it’s like to live in an area, and what you want from your French home, be­fore you com­mit to buy­ing. Kate McNally ex­plains what you need to know about the process

Living France - - THE ESSENTIALS -

In France, around 40% of the pop­u­la­tion live in rented ac­com­mo­da­tion, split al­most half and half be­tween pri­vate and so­cial hous­ing. As you might ex­pect, there is more rental ac­com­mo­da­tion in towns and cities than in more ru­ral ar­eas, and in cer­tain places there is strong com­pe­ti­tion. If you’ve de­cided to move to France but want to try be­fore you buy, rent­ing a prop­erty can be a good way to dip a toe in the wa­ter and ex­plore an area to see if it suits your re­quire­ments.

FIND­ING SOME­WHERE TO RENT

Often, but not al­ways, the lo­cal mairie or com­mu­nauté de com­munes has a list of avail­able rental ac­com­mo­da­tion in the area. The ma­jor­ity of es­tate agents also have a rental sec­tion, so visit a few in your tar­get area to see what they have on their books in your price range. Many lo­cal shops are happy to dis­play of­fers and searches for rented lodg­ings in their spe­cific area, and lo­cal pa­pers or mag­a­zines carry no­tices in the small ads sec­tion. Fi­nally, when you’ve nar­rowed down your search area, take time to walk around the dif­fer­ent roads and al­leys. Quite a few prop­erty own­ers in France pub­li­cise their hous­ing to rent with a sim­ple ‘ à louer’ sign.

DOC­U­MEN­TA­TION

Quite nat­u­rally, as ev­ery­where in the world, the prop­erty owner wants to be sure that a prospec­tive ten­ant is sol­vent and in a po­si­tion to pay the monthly rent. This is per­haps more of a con­cern for French land­lords, as it can be very dif­fi­cult to evict a ten­ant in France ( see right). In or­der to fa­cil­i­tate this vet­ting process, but with­out al­low­ing a land­lord to make ridicu­lous re­quests, the French au­thor­i­ties state that he or she is en­ti­tled to ask for any of the fol­low­ing doc­u­ments ahead of draw­ing up a te­nancy agree­ment ( un bail):

• One proof of iden­tity.

• Last three rent pay­ment in­voices, or ref­er­ence from pre­vi­ous land­lord, or last taxe fon­cière (prop­erty tax) state­ment.

• Em­ploy­ment con­tract, or stu­dent card, or self-em­ploy­ment cer­tifi­cate, or pro­fes­sional cer­tifi­cate for in­de­pen­dent pro­fes­sion­als such as bar­ris­ters and doc­tors.

• Last three months’ wage slips, or em­ploy­ment con­tract, or last two years’ ac­counts if self-em­ployed, or proof of so­cial wel­fare grants.

• Copy of lat­est in­come tax pay­ment (paid an­nu­ally in France).

• Proof of stu­dent grant, for stu­dents.

• Proof of re­ceipt of so­cial ben­e­fits, if this is rel­e­vant.

Sim­i­larly, doc­u­ments prov­ing fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity will be re­quired for any­one act­ing as a guar­an­tor, should the land­lord re­quest one. A land­lord can­not seek a guar­an­tor, how­ever, if they have taken out rental ac­com­mo­da­tion risk in­sur­ance ( garantie des risques lo­cat­ifs), ex­cept if the ten­ant is a stu­dent or re­ceiv­ing so­cial ben­e­fits. The guar­an­tor will be held li­able to pay the rent if the ten­ant de­faults or is un­able to pay for any rea­son.

The ten­ant, mean­while, can re­quest to see sur­vey re­ports, for ex­am­ple re­lat­ing to en­ergy per­for­mance and nat­u­ral risks, be­fore sign­ing on the dot­ted line.

WHAT WILL YOU PAY?

A de­posit – In most cases, you will be ex­pected to pay a de­posit ( une cau­tion) at the start of your te­nancy, to be held by the land­lord through­out the rental pe­riod as se­cu­rity to pay for any po­ten­tial dam­ages or clean­ing or re­pairs re­quired through your ne­glect. For un­fur­nished prop­erty ( lo­ge­ment non meublé), this de­posit is equiv­a­lent to one month’s rent; for fur­nished houses or apart­ments ( lo­ge­ment meublé) it’s usu­ally two months’ rent. Land­lords must re­turn this de­posit within a month of the end of the te­nancy agree­ment, or the bal­ance of the de­posit money within two months if any re­pair or clean­ing work is re­quired.

House in­sur­ance – It’s oblig­a­tory for tenants in France to take out a house in­sur­ance called as­sur­ance risques lo­cat­ifs, in ad­di­tion to any in­sur­ance the prop­erty owner may have. This in­sur­ance cov­ers the cost of dam­ages from fire or flood­ing, for ex­am­ple (al­though not any dam­age to neigh­bour­ing prop­er­ties). The cost varies be­tween in­sur­ers but is gen­er­ally around 2% to 2.5% of the an­nual rent.

For some rea­son, this in­sur­ance is not manda­tory for fur­nished rentals, but it is how­ever ad­vis­able as you will have to re­im­burse the owner for any dam­ages for which you are re­spon­si­ble. Nor does it cover your own be­long­ings, so you may want to opt for an ad­di­tional, more com­pre­hen­sive, house in­sur­ance called as­sur­ance mul­ti­risques habi­ta­tion. Again costs vary

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