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What are my obligations as a renter?

18/02/2019
So you’ve found your new place in France! Such freedom! But with freedom comes responsibility and just like there are certain landlord responsibilities, you have responsibilities as a renter. These can vary from country to country so it’s important that you know about your responsibilities as a renter in France.

Rent and charges

You’ll find that the French love paperwork and moving into your new home is no exception. Your rental agreement (le bail) is the document both you and your landlord sign before you move in. This clarifies what’s expected from both parties (landlord and tennant), protecting you if anything goes wrong.

Rent and the length of the contract

One of the most important things you’ll find in the rental agreement is information surrounding costs and payments. It’s important that you make each rent payment on time, in full, and in the way specified. The payment date (usually monthly) should also be specified.

Before moving into a place make sure you check the length of the lease and the terms of you leaving – often you’ll need to give notice so it’s worth finding this out beforehand and arranging any plans accordingly.

Your deposit and inventory

You’ll usually be required to pay a deposit (usually a month’s rent in advance) before moving in. This is just to make sure that nothing is owed to the landlord at the end of the tenancy and to ensure that you leave the property in the state you left it in (so don’t wreck the place).

 

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Remember: You can’t use your deposit to pay your final month’s rent so make sure that you pay as normal before getting your deposit back when the lease is up!

What other costs are there?

When you’re looking for a place you’ll want to consider the overall cost of living. This could be for things like:

  • Bills for water, heating and electricity
  • Maintenance charges for the upkeep of shared and habitable spaces (especially in apartment blocks) such as lobbies, lifts, parking areas and green spaces
  • Taxes covering rubbish collection, sanitation and street cleaning

These are sometimes incorporated into the rent – it should be specified in the rental agreement whether you need to pay them separately or not. Also remember that you’ll have to pay for your internet subscription and satellite TV too (unless you just borrow a friend’s Netflix).

Subletting

Subletting is when a tenant rents out all or part of a property they’re renting from their landlord. It’s not illegal but there are strict rules to follow.

  • Make sure you get written permission from the owner first
  • The rent paid by the subtenant cannot exceed the initial tenant’s rent
  • You’ll also need a contract for the sublease

Without permission from the landlord you risk having your contract terminated – they reserve the right to evict a tenant in this scenario. If this happens you could have to move and even incur a hefty fine. If you have a friend, spouse or family member living with you – don’t worry. As long as they’re not paying you it’s still lawful.

What about my housemate?

Having a housemate and subletting are two different things. Finding a housemate can be a good way to share bills and rent, but make sure you get your landlord’s consent and that your housemates name is on the lease otherwise you could face a termination of the lease agreement.

What about AirBnB?

AirBnB counts as subletting and if you want to put your rental on AirBnB you must have written permission from the landlord or it must be specified in your rental agreement. According to landlord tenant laws you could be asked to vacate the dwelling if you are found to be illegally.

Home Insurance: Mandatory for renters in France

Another important document that you’ll need before moving in is an attestation d’assurance – this is to prove to your landlord that you’ve got home insurance.

My landlord is having work done on the property

You’re required to let your landlord have work done on your home if it involves…

  • Urgent repairs
  • Necessary improvements
  • Increasing energy efficiency
  • Maintaining the condition of the home

Your landlord must inform you in writing via recorded delivery or deliver a letter in person specifying the reason for the work, the start date, duration and access needed. You’re not obliged to allow access to the property on holidays or weekends.

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If work on the property lasts over 21 days ask your landlord if they can deduct some of the rent as this is sometimes possible if they disturb.

What maintenance must I carry out as a renter?

As a renter you must leave the property in the state it was in when the lease started. This means if you cause any damage to the property you must restore it. You’re responsible for things like:

  • Filling and painting over any holes you might make in the walls (e.g. if you put up mirrors or paintings)
  • Keeping water pipes clear
  • Replacing light bulbs, fuses and switches (if necessary)
  • Leaving the property and its furniture clean and tidy
  • Replacing any keys that you lose or break

It might seem like a lot but the most important thing is to remember to respect the property and leave it in the state that you first found it.

Read your contract carefully before signing and keep a copy for your personal records so that you can refer to it if needed. If in doubt – always contact your landlord before taking action.