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Renting in Paris: your rights and responsibilities as a tenant

A couple of years back, before one could rent a place, they needed to physically inspect the property, visit the letting agency, sign some paperwork, pay and become tenants. This physical meet-up meant the prospective tenant was better placed to find out everything about the tenancy, including their rights and responsibilities.

Today, things have changed a lot.  A few clicks on your computer or smartphone is all it takes to become a tenant. The danger with this is that most people get into tenancy agreements oblivious of their rights and responsibilities.

In this article, we seek to enlighten you of your rights and responsibilities while living in Paris.

Overview

In Paris, and France at large, unlike most parts of the world, landlords and letting agencies insist on tenants providing a few key documents as the first order of business. Some of the most common ones include a valid form of identification, proof of address, bank details, proof of employment or study status and proof of ongoing financial solvency.

Additionally, at the commencement of the tenancy period, one will be required to sign a tenancy agreement that clearly outlines the tenancy period and payment durations.

Right to privacy

As a tenant, you are protected from any intrusion or violation of your privacy, and have the right to sue in case this right is abused. This right also prohibits your landlord from entering your home without permission. Unless stated in your tenancy agreement, your landlord will also need to obtain your consent to perform annual inspections of the premises.

Apartment insurance

It’s common practice for a property in Paris to be insured against damages from water, fire, theft or explosions. For rental properties, the cost of insurance is borne by the tenant. Although this is not compulsory, it’s highly advisable for a tenant to annually renew their home insurance.

Failure on the part of the tenant to acquire an insurance policy is sometimes considered a breach of contract, and may result in eviction. As a tenant, you should also be aware that your landlord is allowed to purchase an insurance policy and extend the bill to you, should you fail to get one in time.

Right to decent accommodation and security

Landlords and letting agencies are required by law to keep rental properties in decent and livable condition. It is within your rights as a tenant to demand a properly ventilated and well-lit space that isn’t affected by the outside environment.

You will also be glad to know that French housing laws prohibit landlords from barring tenants from keeping pets in their apartments. Additionally, landlords are not allowed to dictate how you live during your tenancy period; for instance, the landlord is not allowed to bar you or charge extra rent in case you decide to host your friend.

Expenses

French housing laws protect tenants from unnecessary expenses that may pop up during the tenancy period. Tenants may be required to carry out routine maintenance such as unclogging drainage pipes, replacing dead bulbs and garden maintenance. On the other hand, matters pertaining to structural repairs and payment of agency fees are handled by the landlord.

Importantly, the landlord is not permitted to collect repair fees from the tenant until both parties assess and agree on the overall cost of the repair.

Deposit and rent

You will be happy to know the law is very protective of the tenant when it comes to matters pertaining to rent and deposit. Tenants are required to abide by rules stipulated in their tenancy agreement. Rent should be remitted in full by the agreed-upon date. Additionally, it’s up to the tenant to meet costs for utility bills and taxes, which in most cases are not included in the tenancy contract.

On the other hand, landlords are only allowed to collect a deposit equal to 1 month’s rent for an unfurnished apartment and a deposit equal to a 3 months’ rent for a furnished apartment. Upon termination of the tenancy, landlords have up to 60 days to remit the deposit back to the tenant less any outstanding bills and repairs made.

End of tenancy

Tenants are required to serve a 1 month notice when they intend to terminate their tenancy contract. The notice period for furnished apartments is 3 months, with a bit of flexibility depending on the reason for contract termination.

Landlords can terminate a contract before its expiry strictly on 3 premises: Breach of contract by the tenant, they want to sell the property, or they need the property for personal use. Under these conditions, the landlord is required to observe 3 and 6 months’ notice for unfurnished and furnished apartments respectively. Additionally, landlords are barred from evicting tenants during the winter.

Conclusion

Many tenants are oblivious of their rights and responsibilities as outlined under French housing law. As a tenant in Paris, your rights and needs are sufficiently catered to and your tenancy period is secured by the tenancy agreement signed by you and your landlord. While these rights confer us certain freedoms, they do come with responsibilities which must be embraced in equal measure.

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