Moving in and Getting Set Up in France
As Property Search Consultants, our toughest job is not the job of finding great properties to purchase, but the job to find properties to rent. And the truth is that it’s not the finding that is difficult—it’s convincing the landlord or the representing agency to take on a foreign tenant, particularly one that is not working and salaried in France.
This is because the rental laws favor the tenant, and that means landlords have to protect themselves from deadbeat tenants. A tenant can cancel a furnished rental lease with a 30-day notice, but the landlord must provide a three-month notice to do so. With an unfurnished property, the tenant can give a three-month notice (except in Paris, where it’s been reduced to one month), but the landlord must give at least six months’ notice to the tenant. Further, eviction is forbidden during the winter from November 1st to March 15th. If the tenants don’t vacate, a landlord’s legal recourse could take years.
So, landlords are nervous, and foreign tenants, as an “unknown quantity,” don’t rank high on their list when there are other ready, willing, and able French tenants to move right in. The website, AngloInfo, has a very good and clear explanation of the current laws in France so you can fully understand it. There is also more information on the Agence National pour l’Information sur le Logement (ANIL) website, a national organization to advise landlords (propriétaires) and tenants (locataires) on legal, financial and fiscal matters related to tenancy contracts.
Thanks to these laws, we tell our clients that they don’t choose the apartment—the landlord (or agency) chooses them. For this reason, they can’t (and don’t need to) be too choosy. One must be grateful that the landlord is willing to take a risk on a foreign tenant. Keep in mind that should the property be less than perfect, a 30-day (or 90-day in the case of unfurnished apartments outside of Paris) cancellation is there at their disposal so they can move on to a property more suitable.
To start off on the right foot, we warn all of our clients that they will likely have to secure a guarantor such as Garantme or Unkle. These are insurance policies taken out by the tenant to protect the landlord from the tenant not paying the rent! Apply in advance of your search and make this part of your “dossier” to present to the landlord. The cost of the insurance isn’t too exorbitant: both are about the same—for example, it will cost €52.50 per month for a rental amount of €1,500.
It’s a small price to pay, although, not all landlords feel comfortable enough with this insurance, and continue to insist on a year’s worth of rent, held in escrow with a local bank, that can’t be touched and doesn’t draw interest, until the end of the rental term. At €1,500 a month, that’s €18,000 you have tied up benefiting no one but your landlord’s peace of mind.
Recently we had a client who was very particular about the perfection of the rental apartments we offered him and wrote me: “I am not renting a precious gem. There are plenty of apartments in Paris, and plenty of folks who will be willing to rent them to us.”
Guess what? That’s not at all true! If it were, we wouldn’t be battling this issue with every single rental search project we have, regardless of where it is in France. Our best bet is to find a North American owner, but they are rare and the apartments might not be to our clients’ liking.
Once the apartment is found and the lease secured, the new tenant must allow for a brief period of time within which the property is really ready to be occupied. In many instances, it’s the responsibility of the tenant to set up the utilities in their own name and billing, and in particular, the Internet/TV/phone service (the four largest providers in France are Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom, and Free Mobile).
These services cost as little as €34.99 per month! But, it takes time to contract with them, acquire the equipment and get it set up. So, our advice to our clients is to lease a short-term rental property for one or two weeks in advance of their real move-in date to give themselves the time to get the property set up and ready for their occupancy.
We offer a utilities hook-up service to expedite their installation, making it faster and easier. Until now, we’ve been estimating four hours to accomplish these tasks, but have discovered that they tend to take twice the time. The easiest and fastest part is to transfer the electricity, gas, and water into the tenant’s (or new owner’s) name and set up the automatic debit from their French bank account. On occasion it can be complicated, depending on which services are required and how accessible the meters are, or how available the previous occupant’s contract is (which helps facilitate the transfer). The second part—the set up of the Internet/TV/phone service, takes a lot more time and could even involve hiring a special technician to get it set up correctly.
The logistics of any of this is particularly challenging here in France. Remember, nothing is simple in France, and this is one of those tasks that takes an exorbitant amount of time and patience to accomplish. If you are not fluent in French, then trying this on your own will add insult to injury! We offer the service because our clients need the help, not because it’s profitable, because it isn’t. We warn you now, that either you take the challenge on yourself, or bear the expense and let us see you through it from beginning to end. (Note: This service is only available to our search clients.)
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group®
P.S. Currency Opportunities & Social Security for US Expats Abroad
Don’t miss our third quarter North American Expats in France Quarterly Financial Forum brought to you by Dunhill Financial and the Adrian Leeds Group Wednesday, August 3, 2022, 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. France time, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern US time and 10 a.m. to 12 noon Pacific US time.
Join Dunhill Financial and Adrian Leeds as we discuss the currency outlook and social security for American expats in France. The webinar will focus on currency expectations particularly surrounding the EUR/USD and its recent trip to parity with the USD and what this means. We will also go through a brief history of the formation of the EUR and its historical and political significance in unifying the Eurozone. Last but not least we touch upon how social security works as a US Expat including some of the best practices and strategies to optimize your situation.
It’s Free and it’s informative! Click here to register.
P.P.S. “A Newlywed Homecoming in France,” our newest House Hunters International episode, is scheduled to air this TOMORROW, Thursday, July 28th at 10:31 p.m. Eastern Time (9:31 p.m. Central Time) and Friday, July 29th at 1:31 a.m. Easter Time (12:31 a.m. Central Time)
“A French native is returning to France to take advantage of a work opportunity in Montpellier. While her American husband adores French food, culture and charm, he’s having a hard time syncing with her idea of the perfect space.”
This is the episode we taped in Montpellier in February of this year. So, don’t miss it! Visit our website to learn more.
To view it from outside the US, you will need your VPN (Virtual Private Network) and login via a US-based service provider (such as Cox, Verizon, Comcast, etc.)
Click here to view it live.
Once it airs, we will also provide a video link so you can view it.