Leases and Rental Agreements

Understand what to expect from the tenancy agreement when renting property in France...

The lease agreement or tenancy contract (bail) stipulates terms and conditions of rental and rental rates and is signed between the landlord or estate agent (on behalf of the lessor) and the lessee. Blank, standard lease agreement forms are available from stationers.

During the application process the landlord or agent cannot legally request:

  • Photos of the applicant(s)
  • Bank statements
  • Criminal record certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Divorce judgements
  • Medical records
  • Any documentation from the previous lessor relating to the regular payment of rents

The lease agreement must include the following:

  • Owner's name and address and that of their agent (if relevant)
  • Date on which the contract starts
  • Duration of the contract
  • Rental amount and terms of revision/increase
  • Amount of the deposit
  • Type of accommodation (house, apartment, mixed dwelling)
  • Declaration of common areas
  • A description of the property (number of rooms, garage, garden, cellar)

Write and sign an inventory and condition report (état des lieux), with the lessor, to accompany the lease agreement. Make a list of fittings, fixtures and their condition and the condition of the property.

Building Reports

The DPE (Diagnostic de Performance Énergétique) is a report which details the amount of energy used by a building. It includes recommendations for improvements. The DPE should accompany any new or renewed lease agreement for a lease period of longer than four months.

It is the responsibility of the property owner to have a building examined and to make any obligatory improvements.

Landlords of property built before 1 January 1949 must also attach a CREP (Risque d'Exposition au Plomb) report detailing the risk of exposure to lead poisoning within the building. This CREP must accompany any new or renewed lease agreement.

The report details the presence, concentration and condition of lead throughout the building surfaces. It is the landlord's responsibility to repair any areas where there is a danger of exposure to degrading lead.

Documentation

On applying for a lease the applicant will usually be requested to show the following:

  • Proof of income: the landlord/agent has the right to request proof of income
  • Job Contract
  • Copy of the last Avis d'imposition
  • RIB

An applicant may have to provide details of a guarantor who will be named in the contract and who will stand surety in the event that rent cannot be paid

Deposit

For unfurnished apartments, the amount of the refundable deposit (caution or dépôt de garantie) cannot be higher than the value of one month's rent, paid up front on the signing of the lease agreement. In addition, the first month’s rent must be paid at the same time. For furnished apartments, the amount of the maximum deposit is not fixed by law.

At the end of tenancy and on the return of the keys, the landlord/agent has up to two months to reimburse the deposit, deducting any money needed for repairs to the property. It is illegal to hold back the last months’ rent in lieu of the deposit.

Household Insurance and Certificates

The tenant is required by law to have a comprehensive household insurance certificate (premium rates depend on the size of the property). The landlord has the right to ask for a copy of the insurance certificate at each renewal of the contract.

The following are covered by household insurance:

  • A percentage of capital and valuables
  • Legal costs incurred when personally liable or when claiming against a third party
  • Civil liability
  • Fire, explosion and related risks
  • Weather-related risks (water damage)
  • Attacks on the building and acts of God
  • Theft and vandalism to set amounts
  • Broken windows

In the case of houses with operating fireplaces, the owner is responsible for showing a certificate of safety from a chimney cleaning organisation (a Certificat de Ramonage). This must be renewed annually by the tenant and may be requested by the insurer and owner.

Rental Increases

Rent can be raised annually, either to an amount and on a review date agreed in the tenancy contract, or in the absence of this, it can be raised annually on the date of the signing of the contract.

Usually, rents are raised annually at a rate based the index of reference of rents (IRL) published quarterly by the National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE).

Renewal

If neither the owner nor tenant has given notice for the contact to end when the lease expires, then tacit agreement is made for it to continue (usually for a further one or three years). It may be formally renewed.