Becoming Informed and Keeping Your Rent Down
Volume XXI, Issue 39
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR NEIGHBOR’S PROPERTY?
Few people know it, but it is possible to access precise information on any property or real estate owner, for just a few euros. So if your neighbor recently sold their apartment, and you’re considering doing the same, you can be well informed!
Here’s how to do it…
We all know that we can easily consult official real estate tax statistics online to find out the price of the latest transactions (we report these statistics regularly) and even at a given address, with an indication of the surface area of the property. But, we can obtain much more information from the file held by the land registration services (SPF) than you might have imagined.
All important documents related to a property are, in fact, recorded in this file (the deed of sale, deed of donation, co-ownership regulations, etc.). And, as surprising as it may seem, all these documents are…of public domain! We can therefore obtain the full copy of these deeds, the history of the prices of the different sales, the names of the different owners, etc. The request may relate to one or more properties provided that you have the exact address, the cadastral reference, and possibly even the date of the deed.
Simply fill in the relevant Cerfa form and send it to the relevant SPF (whose address can be found in the SPF directory). The cost is a modest 12€ depending on the number of documents you request.
Several forms are available:
• Form 3233-SD for requests for general information after January 1, 1956;
• Form 3236-SD for copies of documents after the same date;
• Form 3231 for requests for documents prior to January 1, 1956;
• Instructions on how to complete them.
Better still, you can also query the SPF about a specific owner to find out, for example, who is the owner of a given property and even the status of their real estate holdings, and in particular, whether these holdings have been mortgaged or not.
All you need to do is provide your full name, date and place of birth. For the commune or department concerned, the service will provide an inventory of their real estate assets. This will give you a list of their plots of land, houses, apartments, etc. And even the history of purchases and sales, with their prices.
ARE YOU PAYING TOO MUCH RENT?
With inflation, rent represents an increasingly difficult cost for many tenants to meet, but simple checks can sometimes make it possible to reduce the amount.
You pay your rent each month to your agency or your landlord. Nothing could be more normal since you signed a formal lease that mentioned the amount of this rent and the conditions of its annual reassessment. As the rental market is generally tight in many parts of France, it would be nearly impossible for you to negotiate this amount downward with the owner. But, you can still check certain points that could constitute an argument for perhaps reducing your rent.
The first point to check is if the lease clearly mentions the surface area of the accommodations. If this is not the case, the tenant can ask his landlord to modify the lease accordingly and take the opportunity to request a reduction in the rent. But, especially in the event of a surface error, the rent amount can be corrected downwards. Note that the habitable surface area, as defined by article R 111-2 of the Construction and Housing Code, must be mentioned in rental leases subject to the law of July 6, 1989, regardless of whether the accommodation is either empty or furnished.
If the actual surface area is more than 5% less than the surface area mentioned in the lease, the tenant may demand a reduction in the rent proportional to the error noted. If the owner does not respond to his request within two months, he can take the matter to court within four months of sending the request.
Better yet: if the request occurs less than six months after moving into the premises, the reduction in rent will be retroactive. Otherwise, it will take effect from the request.
Beyond unscrupulous landlords who “cheat” on the surface, it is not uncommon to notice measurement errors. The law of July 6, 1989 on rental reports refers to the habitable surface area, and not to the Loi Carrez surface area. Note that certain owners or certain agencies, who do not call on competent experts, may make superficial errors in good faith.
Another point to check is if the rent increase respects the “shield” established by the Purchasing Power Law, which limits the increase to 3.5%. If your rent increase exceeds 3.5%, you can ask your landlord to reduce it accordingly.
Finally, in certain large cities where the market is tight, rentals are subject to rent control, with reference indices, increased or reduced depending on the case. The system is fairly complex, depending on the zone concerned and the type of property. But this complexity is a source of error, so it’s worth checking whether your landlord has complied with the regulations.
The Adrian Leeds Group®
P.S. We were among the first expat real estate agencies to provide services for North Americans seeking to move to France or invest in French property. We have years of experience as well as relationships with top industry experts to help you with everything related to French property. Please visit our Services page for the full range of assistance we’re able to provide.