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Guide to renting in France

Updated: Sep 19, 2022


This book details the numerous facets of renting a house in France, from tenant protections to insurance for personal belongings.


Although relocating to France is an exciting new experience, it might take some time and effort to choose the ideal home. Before signing a French rental contract, a newcomer to France should familiarise themselves with the country's regulations on house rentals.


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The French Rental Market


Renting is a common option for those relocating to France. The percentage of French citizens who are renters is about equal to the average throughout the European Union, at around 36%. Many internationals prefer to rent during their first few months in the country.


More than half of France's renters locate their houses on the private market, and there are plenty of resources available to help you discover a rental. There is a wide range in both quality and cost when it comes to lodging options around the country. Paris, like other major cities, is more costly than the rest of France.


The property market, like the rest of Europe, fell during the global financial crisis of 2008, although it has been slowly rising since 2015.


Currently, housing policy in France falls under the purview of the Ministry of Territorial Cohesion and Relations with Local Authorities.


Famous French Rental Neighborhoods


Regional differences highlight France's rich diversity. A person's decision on where to settle down may be influenced by a variety of variables, such as the quality of life there, the availability of jobs, the expense of maintaining that lifestyle, or the presence of a vibrant expat community.


The following are among the most visited cities in France:


Paris


Paris, being the nation's capital and economic epicentre, is a popular destination for international professionals. Paris, like many other major urban centres, is multicultural, historic, and alive with exciting nightlife. Just over 20% of the population was born in a country other than the United States in 2011, making this a very diverse and global metropolis.


It is, nonetheless, France's most costly metropolis. Some three-bedroom apartments in desirable locations in Europe may cost over €2,500 per month to rent.


You may find additional specifics in our guides on Paris neighbourhoods and the suburbs around the city.


Montpellier


Montpellier, in the south of France, is a more laid-back alternative to Paris while still being a culturally rich and exciting place to live. Many Britons who have found work in France have settled there. Some estimates put the number of British in the city at 20%.


Rent for a one-bedroom apartment is just around €600-€650, making it more inexpensive than Paris.


Nice


Nice, located in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur area, is a beautiful seaside city in the south. Another city in France attracts many foreigners, notably pensioners looking for a more laid-back lifestyle. Although rent for a one-bedroom apartment in this city is around €750 a month, it is more costly than in nearby Montpellier.


Dordogne


South of Bordeaux in western France, in this French region, you will find quaint little towns and beautiful scenery. Thus, it is ideal for expats who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis. Many retirees from other countries have settled there to enjoy the pleasant climate, delicious food, and picturesque scenery.


Dordogne has lower housing expenses than most big cities. If you are considering a move to the Dordogne, check out our relocation guide.


Other regions of France popular with expats


Expats from the Netherlands and the United Kingdom frequent the southeast French region of La Drôme. In the French countryside, you may escape the hustle and bustle of the city without sacrificing quiet.


While Lyon, France's third largest city, is well-known for its delicious cuisine and vibrant culture, the city's bourgeois traditions may often lead to social rigidity.


The Mediterranean port city of Marseille is home to a sizable expat community (mostly from Northern Africa). Although social problems have arisen as a result of the city's diversity, many people like Marseille for its unique character.


Buying vs renting in France


Urban French citizens often rent apartments, even for extended periods, in contrast to the widespread house ownership seen in rural regions. One must weigh the pros and drawbacks of both buying and renting when selecting which option is best while locating in France.


When you first arrive in a country, or if you are unsure about how long you will be staying, renting might be a decent option. You may have a lot more freedom with a lot fewer responsibilities thanks to the tenant rights in France.


However, you may be limited in how you may alter the property, so it will not feel like home to you. Renting in the desired region might be difficult because of the high cost of living there.


Buying allows you to save money over time and make improvements as you see fit. Nevertheless, transaction costs in France are around 16% of the value of a property, which is rather significant. This implies that the added expenditures of purchasing will likely exceed any profit you may earn if you plan to move within three to five years.


Types of property to rent in France


France is a great place to locate rental properties of all shapes and sizes. Housing options in the city mostly consist of flats (appartements) or homes (maisons). Maisons may be freestanding, attached, or in a terraced configuration.


Houses constructed in a variety of architectural styles are more common in rural and suburban regions. France is home to a wide variety of rental properties, including but not limited to:


Bastide – detachable, stone, square-shaped, flat-roofed structures; prevalent in rural locations


Domaine – estate property, which usually includes ancillary land (such as vineyards);


Ferme/Fermette – farm home in the country, usually with the land;


Pavillion – Bungalow in France;


Longere – house that has one floor and is shaped like a long rectangle;


Mas - French country home typical of Provence


French rental properties are either fully equipped or unfurnished. Short-term leases often include furnished accommodations. It is common for unfurnished (vide) homes to have more tenant-friendly policies, allow for greater customization, and have longer lease terms. A usual lease term for a furnished (meublée) property is one year, whereas the term for an unfurnished home is three years.


In the past, some French landlords have sought to get around the law by falsely advertising their empty apartments as fully furnished so that they could offer their tenants shorter leases and fewer protections. However, the French government has specified that only certain types of furnished housing satisfy the criteria to be considered "furnished."


Bedding, cooking facilities (oven or microwave), refrigerator, freezer, crockery, kitchen utensils, tables and seats, storage shelves, lights, and housekeeping equipment are all required by law to be included in a fully furnished rental.


Make sure they are included if you opt to rent a furnished apartment in France.


Finding a place to rent in France


Internet search engines, real estate agencies (agences immobilières), and newspaper classifieds are only some of the options for locating rental properties in France. Finding a suitable property in a rural area may need the assistance of a real estate agent.


The square footage of a home is usually advertised. A small apartment is defined as less than 40 square metres, whereas a big apartment is defined as more than 100 square metres. This covers public spaces like corridors and balconies.


Internet hubs


Many real estate websites provide rental listings and enable you to narrow your search based on factors like location, budget, desired amenities, and more. They are mostly written in French, however, browsers like Google Chrome make it easy to switch to the translated version. Here are just a few of the most visited web destinations:


SeLoger


Particulier à Particulier (PAP)


LaVieImmo


Century21


Spotahome


Green Acres


Blueground


A Vendre A Louer


Homelike


Property agents


Agents working in the French real estate market are known as agences immobilieres. Many foreigners living in France prefer working with a real estate agent, particularly if it is their first time renting.


As well as brick-and-mortar locations, several agences immobilieres now have an online presence. Services may need registration and an in-person visit at your neighbourhood branch.


The carte professionnelle is proof that a French agent has met the legal requirements for the job and is required by law. The vast majority of French professionals should be registered with one of three organisations:


Federation Nationale de l’Immobilier (FNAIM)


Syndicat National des Professionels Immobiliers (SPI)


Union Nationale de la Propriete Immobiliere (UNPI)


If you are going to hire an agent, it is smart to make sure they are a member of at least one of these groups and can provide you with a carte professionelle.


The costs associated with hiring an agent to sell your home might range widely. A list of fees should be available at the office or on the website of the relevant agency to give you an idea of what you may expect to pay. Depending on the kind of fee, the landlord may include it in the rent they charge.


Agencies specialised in furnished rentals


Paris Attitude is one such agency that specialises in providing furnished flats and short-term rents to tourists. Leases for furnished apartments and houses are often shorter than those for unfurnished residences, ranging from a few months to a year.


Agencies specialised in expat rentals


There are specialised expat agencies in France that provide assistance to foreigners and have familiarity with the English-speaking expat community. Brokers that have relationships with many agences immobilieres in France fall into this category.


Providers include:


French Property


Long Term Lettings


Paris Attitude (for apartments to rent in Paris)


Student accommodation


There are two main housing options for international students in France: university dormitories and private apartments (either solo or as a flatshare).


Student housing is the most affordable choice, but it is common to be turned down, particularly in popular destinations like Paris, so it is best to start looking well in advance.


The Centre National des Oeuvres Universitaires et Scolaires (CNOUS) oversees university housing, and its website includes instructions for securing on-campus housing as well as tips for finding off-campus housing.


Rooms in university dorms may be had for as little as €120 per month outside of Paris. When looking for a private alternative, expect to pay a little more, although there are still many low-cost hotels to choose from. Examples of excellent places to find what you need online are:


The Association for Economic Development and Accommodation of Students (ADELE)


Center for Student Accommodation in France (CLEF)


Residences Estudines



Flatshares


If you do not mind having roommates, flat sharing is a terrific method to save money on rent. There are a plethora of internet resources for finding roommates, including student housing websites and general real estate listings. The specialised websites EasyRoomMate and Roomlala are worth a look.


Finding compatible roommates, settling on a cleaning schedule, and determining how to divide up the costs are just some of the extra considerations that must be made while searching for a flatshare.


Whenever many people are renting a single home, all of their names need to be listed. Even though it is not illegal, some residents sublease their units to others. This leaves the subsequent renters with fewer safeguards under the law.


Ask for a formal agreement outlining the essentials, such as rent and notice requirements, if you are renting a room that is also being rented. This need not be extensive; just one sheet of A4 should cover the essentials of staying safe throughout your visit.


How to rent a property in France


Renting through a property agency


When renting a property in France, it is common to practise paying an agent immobilier an administrative charge. This includes the agency's services of locating and showing you the property, negotiating the lease and handing over the keys.


In France, the cost of renting via an agency is often more than renting from a private landlord. This occurs because tenants frequently pay the agency's monthly management fee that the landlord pays (often between 10% and 15%).


An initial payment consisting of one month's rent plus the security deposit and the agency's administrative fee is customary. Particularly for international renters, most agencies will want to do a credit check to make sure there are no outstanding debts.


You will usually need to provide:


passport or valid ID;


proof of French residency status;


evidence of income (usually, three months' worth of bank statements). Proof of income over the last three years (if you have not been working in France);


references from previous landlords, if you have rented in France before


There is a government list (in French) of what a landlord may lawfully ask for; a bank statement is not on the list. In exchange, the renter is entitled to receive several reports from the landlord, such as an energy rating, a lead report, and a risk/safety assessment of the building.


Renting directly through a landlord


In France, when a tenant rents directly from a private landlord, the arrangement is called "particular à particulier" (person to person). In comparison to working with a real estate agent, this method is simpler and more cost-effective, but it carries with it more potential for loss if something goes wrong.


Local newspapers, community bulletin boards, and listings websites like ParuVendu are just a few more places to look for private landlord rentals in addition to the places already covered in this article.


In France, most landlord-tenant relationships include unfurnished, long-term (three-year) rents. This is because, rationally, landlords would rather not have to cope with a high turnover of tenants. All the essentials of an agency contract, such as notice requirements, deposits, and duties of the landlord, should be included in a tenancy agreement. If you have any doubts regarding the contract, you should have it reviewed by a lawyer who specialises in housing rights in France.


Rental costs in France

In a nutshell, the rent is due every month

French rents may vary greatly based on things like location and property type. Utility expenses are often included in the monthly rent for furnished residences, but not for unfurnished rentals. However, you should double-check before assuming anything.


The current average rentals in France, as reported by Numbeo, are:


One-bedroom apartments cost between €525 and €665 per month;


For a three-bedroom apartment, expect to pay between €965 and €1,300 monthly.


Larger, more populous cities have greater prices. These are some examples of the current average costs in Paris:


Approximately €850-1,150 per month for a studio or one-bedroom;


Rent for a three-bedroom in Europe is between €1,750 and €2,600.


Several high-demand regions in France have rent regulations (zone tendue). Type in your zip code to see whether you are within the serviceable region on the official website. You have the right to ask for a review of your rent in a rent-controlled area if you believe it is excessive.


Once a year, the landlord may raise the rent, but only by an amount equal to or less than the rate of inflation, whichever is lower, or by any amount indicated in the lease. Rent increases cannot exceed the quarterly percentage increase in the INSEE-published index of representative rentals (IRL).


The monthly rent is usually due in advance on the first of the month. It is unlawful for a landlord to require a tenant to set up a direct debit or standing order with their bank, even if this is the most convenient method of payment.


Security payment for a rental

French real estate brokers and landlords often require tenants to put down a security deposit before they take possession of a rental property. This will be used to compensate for losses such as repairs and overdue payments.


Within two months of the lease's expiration, the tenant shall get the deposit, less any sums payable for expenditures (but no more than one month's rent).


We advise putting the security deposit into a joint escrow account that needs both the landlord's and tenant's signatures to access the funds. If you do not want to risk losing the money, be sure to acquire a receipt that indicates the transfer was made as a security deposit (dépôt de garantie).


Costs associated with an agency or administrative services

The use of a rental agency is usually accompanied by some kind of cost. There are certain of these that fall exclusively on the renter, while others are shared equally with the landlord. When fees are divided, neither the landlord nor the renter may be charged more than what was agreed upon.


Tenant fees are limited, and the agency should make that fact plain on their websites and at their offices. Some of the current charges are as follows:


$8-12 per square metre for administrative tasks including showings, tenant file creation, and lease writing;


Tenant and Landlord to Split Inventory Expenses, with a Cap of €3 Per Square Meter


Re-leasing costs between €8 and €12 per square foot.


Landlords often foot the bill for management fees in a rental arrangement. The landlord, however, may include these costs in the rent, resulting in a higher monthly payment.


Other costs

If you plan on renting in France, there are a few extra expenses you should plan for. The following are examples of such things:


French utilities and bills from French telecommunications providers;


costs like the tax on a home (taxe d'habitation). You must notify the French Tax Office (Centre des Impôts) of your new address in France to get your first tax bill;


insurance in France - some French landlords require tenants to have dwelling insurance. But even if that is not the case, it is still a good idea to get contents insurance to safeguard your belongings.


budget for furniture if your French flat is leased unfurnished; this includes couches, mattresses, tables, and kitchen appliances.


Help with costs

In France, there are three distinct housing subsidies. They are:


Personalized housing allowance (APL);


Family housing allowance (ALF);


Social housing allowance (ALS)


In this article, you may learn more about these discounts. You may also find information on how to acquire a guarantor if you need one or how to receive help paying your security deposit online.


Social housing in France

France offers a social housing programme in addition to housing subsidies for private sector renters. Habitations a loyer modere is the French term for social housing (HLM).


Every region was supposed to have 20% HLM stock as of 1998, however, that goal has not been attained. About 18% of French families are now subsidised, housing residents.


It is important to note that both public and private housing organisations provide HLMs to their residents. Local groups like Habitat for Humanity in Paris are well represented. Reduced rents are generally 50-66% of the going rate.


Social housing in the United States is in high demand but short supply, making waiting lists as long as they are in the United Kingdom. Your annual household income must be at or below the HLM's designated low-income limit for you to be eligible for housing assistance (based on geographic area and level of need). Certain demographics are prioritised, including but not limited to:


● homeless people;

● families with young children or expectant mothers;

● those with disabilities;

● people in sudden financial difficulty


The French government's website has further details on the HLM application process. Visit the government's housing website to submit a housing application.


Tenancy contracts in France


The tenant and landlord/agency are legally bound by the terms of the tenancy agreement (contrat de bail). It has to be signed on or before the first day of the lease. Rent and security deposit is due at this time.


At a bare minimum, French rental agreements should cover:


● names of tenant(s) and landlord;

● specifications of the rental unit;

● commencement of Contract;

● the length of time covered by the contract (e.g., one year, three years);

● payment amounts for rent and security deposits;

● specifics on any additional costs (such as electricity bills) that will need to be paid to the landlord;

● clarification on notification requirements;

● Tenant and Landlord Responsibilities and Rights

● square footage (no furnished rentals);


Agreements signed by both the landlord and the renter


A condition report, inventory, and energy performance report are all necessary supplements to lease agreements. The presence of a notary public is not required for the signing of a lease agreement (notaire).


Unless either you or your landlord provides sufficient notice, your lease, whether it is for an unfurnished or furnished home, will be automatically renewed.


Rental agreements for both fully equipped and unfurnished units are provided as examples.


Tenant rights and obligations in France

In France, the law favours tenants. After the landlord has turned over the keys, he or she no longer has permission to access the premises without the tenant's permission and may be subject to legal action for trespass or harassment.


Except as otherwise specified in the lease agreement, the landlord has no authority to conduct inspections of the premises at any time. Tenant must provide access for normal maintenance and repairs, but not for tenant-made enhancements.


The lease should include all terms and conditions, including rights and responsibilities. The tenant's responsibilities will include, in general:


● pay the rent and any bills on time;

● follow the house rules as set out in the contract;

● do standard upkeep and maintenance tasks like weeding the lawn, mending a leaky faucet, and changing the light bulbs;

● for the cost of repairing any harm they create;


Subletting is permitted in France so long as the landlord gives written consent and the subtenant does not have to pay more than the primary tenant does. Landlord approval is often required before making any major changes to the building's fixtures and fittings.


Tenant protections and responsibilities in France


A landlord may enter the premises to make substantial repairs or if renter has violated the lease. Nonetheless, enough warning (often 24-48 hours) should be provided.


France's landlords have the authority to end a lease for just cause, such as nonpayment of rent, but only after following the proper legal channels.


If there is no termination provision in the lease, the landlord must seek a judicial termination in the case of nonpayment of rent. The court will look at the circumstances, including the tenant's ability to pay and decide whether or not to terminate the lease. In most cases, tenants are given two months from the date of the order to evacuate the premises, however, courts may extend this period. For more details, please go here.


The typical responsibilities of a French landlord are as follows:


● carrying out major repairs where necessary;

● keeping maintenance to a minimum and only entering the rental unit with the tenant's permission;

● furnishing safe and comfortable living quarters;

● landlords are responsible for fixing or replacing any big appliances (such as washing machines) that come with the rental unit if they break; unless tenants are at fault, landlords are also liable for minor appliance repairs.

● giving a rent receipt to the renter;


According to French housing legislation, landlords are required to allow renters to have dogs.


Where to go in the event of a dispute


Get in touch with the Commission Department of Conciliation (CDC), which mediates conflicts between landlords and renters, if you are having trouble getting along with yours. In addition, the National Housing Information Network (ANIL; French only) is a good resource for finding legal aid.


Reporting a neighbour to the police is an option if you are having issues with them, such as if they are always making noise or being generally unfriendly.


Utilities and telecommunications in France


When renting in France, you may be required to initiate service connections for utilities such as electricity, gas, internet, phone, and television.


In certain cases, particularly with fully furnished apartments, the landlord takes care of things and includes the cost in the monthly rent. A detailed estimate of these fees should be provided to you.


If you are in charge of arranging these services on your own, you may learn more about the steps involved in our guides to establishing utilities in France and telecommunications in France.


Moving in and moving out of France


You should be given the keys to your new home as soon as you have signed the lease, and paid the first month's rent, the security deposit, and any other payments that are due.


A detailed list of the landlord's property and its condition is called an inventory, or "état des lieux," and it should be supplied to you along with the lease. All fixtures, fittings, and furnishings are included.


This is the starting point for discussions about the security deposit being returned upon your departure. Normal wear and tear should be considered free, but the property should be returned in the same condition it was in. You should let your landlord know as soon as possible if there is anything that needs to be replaced due to normal wear and tear during your stay there.


Carefully review the inventory before signing it, and bring up any discrepancies right once to avoid problems later on.


Moving out


Any communication between the parties must be in writing. It is recommended that you accomplish this by a registered letter (recommender), a bailiff (hussier), or hand delivery with acknowledgement of receipt and annotation. Any post office will have registered letters for a few Euros.


In France, the following are the bare minimums for giving notice:


Furnished rentals need a one-month security deposit from renters and a three-month security deposit from landlords;


Tenants pay anywhere from one month to three months' rent for unfurnished rentals (depending on location and other factors), whereas landlords pay for a full year.


If the tenant fails to pay rent or utility bills as agreed upon, or if the tenant otherwise breaches the conditions of the lease, the landlord has the right to terminate the lease and reclaim possession of the property. Tenants are free to give notice at any time. If the landlord wants to go to court, they have to wait until there are fewer than six months left on the lease.


You may find helpful resources, such as sample letters to your landlord when you move out, on this page.


If there are no disagreements, your security deposit should be returned to you within one month of your move-out date; otherwise, it should be refunded to you within two months. If your deposit has not been received within this time frame, you may file a complaint with the Commission's Department of Conciliation (CDC).


To guarantee a smooth transition out of your French residence, use our comprehensive must-do list.


Tips for renters in France


If you want to increase your chances of finding a nice place to stay, you should seek as many places as possible (online, via agents, in classified ads, etc.) and be ready to sign immediately once you do.


Before signing the lease, it is important to read it thoroughly to ensure that you understand your responsibilities and are satisfied with the terms. Feel free to request modifications or deletions to content you find objectionable.


If you do not want to be stuck paying for utility use during your absence, make sure to take metre readings before you move in and again before you leave.


Find out whether you qualify for social housing or housing assistance if you are having trouble making ends meet due to rent payments.


Useful resources


● Service-Public - A French government website that provides information about renting housing in France.

● Demande de Logement Social - gateway for social housing-related information and services

● Agency for National Information on Housing (ANIL) - guides on housing issues and tenant protections.


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