Understanding French Rental Requirements
The toughest job we have is not finding property to purchase, but finding property to rent long-term (one or more years). And that’s not the toughest part of it—at least the “finding” isn’t—but the “securing” is. And then there’s the management of the expectations of our clients to add on the top of that.
My team in Nice recently came to me with a document they wanted us to present to every rental search client to sign so that the clients can’t come back to us unaware of the challenges we face. They titled it “Understanding and Acknowledging French Rental Requirements.”
In our initial consultation, I always make a big effort to explain the rental landscape in France and in particular, in Paris and Nice, where most of our clients choose to live. But, sometimes it just doesn’t sink in until they are faced with the facts and there’s no choice but to punt.
The truth of the matter is that you are not choosing the property as much as the property owner chooses you as the tenant. The reason for this stems from rental laws that protect the tenant. While that may seem perfect for you as a tenant, it means the landlord must protect himself from “dead beat” tenants that either don’t pay their rent on time or not at all. Landlords prefer to rent to French tenants who hold salaried jobs with contracts that ensure their reliability and ability to pay the rent. Foreign tenants are therefore perceived to be a high risk.
It is likely that the landlord will require guarantees that may seem quite substantial, such as an insurance policy/guarantor (Garantme.fr or Unkle.fr) or an escrow account with a bank that holds a year’s rent and is untouchable by either party until the end of the lease!
Do not expect to move right in the day of your arrival, even if you have paid the rent from that date forward. We often find properties for our clients in advance of their arrival, so in effect, it will be move-in ready. But it takes time to become fully installed in the property—to open a bank account, move in, set up your utilities, secure the lease with the landlord as noted above, etc. So, we encourage leasing one to three weeks of temporary housing upon which you can rely in advance of being fully installed (Airbnb or other short-term rental).
You will be asked to submit a dossier of information that will be attractive to the landlord. It may feel like applying for a loan, and it can be even tougher than that! This dossier includes, but is not limited to the following:
o Letter of motivation (in French, with a photo) explaining why you want to live in France and how you will care for their home as if it were your own
o Copy of your passport
o Copy of your “titre de séjour,” if any (visa)
o Insurance against non-payment of rents
o Renter’s insurance (purchasable at your bank or insurance broker/company)
o Utility set up: (request our contracts for this service that we can provide)
Our team will locate apartments that align with your needs and wants. You are welcome to send suggestions to our search consultant who will create a spreadsheet to track these potential homes. The search consultant will organize visits to the properties on your behalf (with or without you) and will submit your dossier to the landlord when a favorite property is found.
In light of these facts, tenants can’t be too choosy. If you expect to find a perfect property and get approval by the landlord, then you will likely be out of luck. The perfect property doesn’t exist and neither does the perfect landlord. So, something has to give. And it’s better to have a great landlord than a great apartment, because great landlords tend to represent great apartments.
Our fee to find and secure a rental apartment in France is one month’s rent, with a minimum amount to cover this arduous task.
Meanwhile, take the word “expectations” out of your vocabulary and replace it with the word “hopes” and you will never be disappointed! And we’ll find you the rental apartment of your dreams…with a great landlord, too!
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group®
P.S. SAVE THE DATE! This is your invitation to the opening of the international exhibition, “In the Banlieues: Oakland/Saint-Denis” on Wednesday, June 15th at 7:00 p.m. at the Pavillon de l’Arsenal in Paris!…in the presence of Mathieu Hanotin, Mayor of Saint-Denis, with Laure Gayet and June Grant, curators of the exhibition, Julie Fry, CEO of California Humanities and Sabine de Maussion, Director of Villa Albertine San Francisco, co-producers of the program.
This is the first of a series of international exhibitions exploring the “banlieues” in France and the United States. “In the Banlieues: Oakland/Saint-Denis” is presented throughout the summer in Paris, Saint-Denis, San Francisco and Oakland partly in co-production with the Pavillon de l’Arsenal in Paris and the urban agency SPUR in San Francisco. Regardless of what they are called—suburbs, outskirts, “banlieues”—this exhibition aims at centering the margins. Artistic movements, social struggles, urban innovations: Oakland, California and Saint-Denis are now asserting their cultural and artistic influence and inventing solutions to the challenges of inequity and accelerated urban development that metropolises are facing.
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Address: Pavillon Arsenal, 21 Boulevard Morland, 75004 Paris
P.P.S. Tune into my interview FREE of charge, by Diana Bishop, as part of the Women of Global Interest series on Wednesday, June 1st. It will be broadcast live at 12:30 pm EST/9:30 am Pacific/6:30 pm Paris/5:30 pm London. Visit our events page for all the details and to register.