The first time you rent an apartment in Paris, you might not know what to do.
Especially if you’re rent an apartment for the first time ever.
And that’s OK.
The laws are different, and you don’t know how to protect yourself, and you’re already having a rough time finding someone, anyone in Paris who will rent an apartment to you because you don’t have a French garentor and you’re ready to take whatever you can get.
Even renting from an agency doesn’t seem to help. The housing market is tight in the fall and it’s a landlord’s market, so you’re afraid that if you insist too much that your landlord “follow the law,” you’ll never find a place to live.
Wait a minute.
Before you sign any rental contract, especially in a foreign country, it’s important to understand your rights and responsibilities when you rent an apartment in Paris.
The last thing you want is to be charged illegally for having guests or to have a long, drawn out battle because your landlord won’t give you back your security deposit after two months and you’ve left the country. Even though laws protecting tenants are very strong in France, a study published in Le Parisien in 2010 found that many student apartment leases in France had at least one illegal or abusive clause.
As in the United States, French landlords are prohibited from discriminating against potential renters based on race, national origin, religion, affiliation, and a host of other obvious qualities, but unfortunately, it’s hard to cry discrimination when there are 50 people lining up and practically begging for a place to live.
Once you do get an apartment rental contract, you’ll want to look it over and make sure it respects these 13 conditions before you sign:
- The right to a decent lodging: closed, covered, and in good repair.
- The right to use your lodging as you see fit: a landlord may not prevent you from (or charge you extra rent for) hosting a friend, for example.
- The landlord cannot prohibit you from having pets of any kind.
- The right to pay only the agreed-upon rent and utilities. The landlord is required to pay for repairs and agency fees related to the rental (this does not include the finder’s fee, usually one month’s rent).
- The right to have the security deposit reimbursed no more than two months after returning the keys. The landlord may deduct outstanding utilities bills, fees for necessary repairs, and taxe d’habitation (renter’s tax) from the deposit. The landlord may not include the taxes foncières (property owner’s tax) in the fees.
- The right to a receipt, a ‘quittance de loyer,’ for all rents paid, which cannot be billed to you.
- The landlord cannot require you to allow him to hold a visit (for renting or selling the lodging) on holidays, or for more than two hours on workdays.
- The landlord may not require you to pay the rent by automatic withdrawal on your account, and the renter may not authorize it.
- The landlord may not require the renter to make advanced payments for repairs before the cost is assessed by both parties.
- The landlord cannot cancel the lease for reasons other than non-payment of rent, a security deposit, or the non-adherence to a renter’s insurance plan.
- The landlord cannot automatically assume the renter is responsible for any degradation of the lodging, or automatically assess fees to renters collectively for the degradation of something in a common area.
- The landlord cannot require you to pay for the état des lieux, unless it is carried out by a bailiff.
- The lease may not contain a clause absolving the landlord from responsibility and preventing the renter from bringing him to court if necessary.
- The landlord may not ask for more money than what is in the contract.
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