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Guide to renting a home in France
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Have you decided to move or return to France? Whether you’re moving to France for the first time or returning home, one of the first things you’ll need to do is to find somewhere to live, which often involves renting. This can be complicated when you’re living or have lived in another country.

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Do you want to rent in France? Get your paperwork in order!

France has a reputation for its love of administrative paperwork! Fortunately, French legislators have now stipulated the documents required by landlords for rental contracts:

  • Documentary proof of identity: an identity card, a passport, a driving licence, a residence permit or resident's card or a national identity card from a state which is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA);

  • Documentary proof of residence: proof of the last 3 months’ rent, certificate of residence, etc.

  • Documentary proof of your employment: employment contract or any other recent document proving professional activity;

  • Documentary proof of resources: last 3 payslips, last 2 bank statements, documentary proof of payment for pensions, etc.

Landlords are obliged to accept foreign documents; however, you may be required to have these documents translated into French before they are accepted as part of your rental paperwork.

Good to know: choosing a property can be complicated if you’re still living abroad, so why not contact an estate agency or a relocation agency? They will be responsible for your property search, including the procedures to be followed with the landlord.

> Find out more: Relocation services : 4 questions answered

Final step before moving: signing the lease

Once you’ve found the property of your dreams, you have to sign the lease. This rental contract commits you:

  • for 1 year, and can be renewed, if the home is furnished. However, you can terminate the lease before this time by giving your landlord 1 month's notice;

  • for 3 years, and can be renewed, if the property is unfurnished. The lease can be cancelled before this time if you give 3 months' notice.

The lease must be signed before you enter the premises and its start date must be stipulated. You may be required to pay the landlord a deposit when signing the lease. This cannot exceed one month's rent for an unfurnished property or two months' rent for a furnished property. It will be returned to you when you leave, provided that you haven’t damaged the property: this is assessed based on a comparison between the "incoming inspection report" and the "outgoing inspection report".

These two documents, which are very important, are produced in the presence of the landlord and the tenant.

Paying rent: French rules

The lease will state how often rent should be paid: it is usually paid monthly, with payment made in advance at the start of the month.

Rental charges may have to be paid in addition to the basic rent. The landlord is entitled to pass on the following expenditure to his/her tenant: maintenance and electrical power for lifts, maintenance of communal areas and outdoor spaces and the local tax for the removal of household waste. These charges are usually paid in the form of a monthly flat-rate payment and must be adjusted at the end of the year by the landlord, based on documentary proof.

Lastly, the rent can be revised every year, if stipulated in the lease. Owners must refer to an official indicator, known as the rental reference index, to make the calculation.

MyHealth France: APRIL International's health insurance policy, specially designed for your move to France

Five levels of cover, simplified membership, payment of hospital costs even with the most basic policy: MyHealth France top-up health insurance gives you the right cover, in addition to the French Social Security system.

Are you moving to France? APRIL International's multilingual advisers are here to help. Contact us!

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