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HOUSING

Are you paying too much to rent in France? Find out

Rental caps have been rolled out in Paris, but the rest of the country isn't obliged to play along yet. Here's what you can do, however, if you're paying too much.

Are you paying too much to rent in France? Find out
Paris rooftops. Photo: Maree Turner/Flickr
Since August last year, Parisian landlords have had to play along with the rent-capping Loi Alur (or Loi Duflot as it was called) which was rolled out as a part of a sweeping housing reform by the current government. 
 
It came as part of a bid to control rental prices in the capital, which have spiraled upwards by 42 percent over the last ten years. 
 
The reform meant Paris rent prices are now measured in euros per square metre and based on the building's age and location.  
 
Under the rules no new rental contract could charge more than 20 percent per square meter above the neighborhood’s median rent, which is assessed annually by a “local rent observatory”.
 
So for example if you live in a 30 square metre one-bedroom apartment around Pére Lachaise in Paris, the maximum rent should in theory be €729 per month.  
 
Up to now however the law has only been applied in Paris, even though a number of designated “strained” zones were identified across the country including cities like Lyon, Marseille and Montpellier, where renters faced the same issues as in Paris – crazily high prices and a lack of flats available.
 
So while the Paris rent system is in the process of being controlled, thousands if not millions of renters across the country are potentially suffering from overpriced homes and apartments, because their local mayors are choosing not to implement it.
 
But perhaps not for long. 
 
France's consumer rights organisation CLCV has launched a site called “My rent is too high” (Mon loyer trop cher) where renters from all cities can check in to see if they're being ripped off. 
 
After entering your details – providing you live in one of the 1,151 municipalities around the 28 cities in France where the law is supposed to apply – you can learn whether you are indeed paying too much.
 
If so, you are encouraged to send the information along to your local mayor or MP with just one extra click. 
 
The rights group says it created the system as part of a bid to “mobilize the public” and to “limit the abuse” from landlords around France. 
 
It said that it was “disturbing” to see that so many households are struggling to purchase homes after spending so much on rent, adding that some renters are overpaying by more than €100 a month. 
 
Meanwhile, the rental caps have irked real estate agents and landlords' associations, which have promised to wage legal battles with legal officials choosing to roll out the changes. 
 
That's despite landlords benefiting from certain measures in the reform like a state-run insurance scheme that covers them if tenants don't pay their rent.
 
If you want to find out if you're paying too much, check out the Mon loyer trop cher site here

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HOUSING

Surge in property demand as Parisians flee the capital

After spending the past months confined to their homes, an increasing number of Parisians seem to want swap their city apartment for a more spacious home outside the French capital.

Surge in property demand as Parisians flee the capital
'For sale'. Photo: AFP

Since end of lockdown, French real estate agencies have seen a surge in demand for properties outside the capital, especially by Parisians who wish to swap their small city apartments for a more spacious home outside the city.

“The lockdown was the final straw that saw people making the move,” said Brice Bonato, head of the real estate agency Sextant, told French newspaper Le Parisien.

A study by a company called Paris je te quitte (Paris I'm leaving you) found that 54 percent of the people asked said they wanted to leave the capital “as soon as possible” – up from 38 percent before the health crisis.

Paris is notoriously expensive

Paris is one of the world’s most expensive cities when it comes to housing, with the average price per square metre set at over €10,000.

The combination of limited space, limited housing and very high demand has pushed prices in the French capital sky high, with prices rising by 62.5 percent over the past 10 years.

As a result, Parisians have got used to paying a lot for little. Few are able to purchase and most people live in rented apartments. 

READ ALSO Almost half of all property rental adverts in Paris are illegal

Earlier this year, a Paris studio apartment at just 30 square metres caused anger when it was put up for sale for close to €1 million.
 
But as soon as you move a little bit out of the capital, prices drop. In the greater Paris region as a whole, the average price per square feet is currently at €6,700, according to Le Parisien.
 
 
Many Parisians spent the two months of strict lockdown inside their tiny apartment, without a balcony or garden to breathe fresh air from. Photo: AFP
 
'Closer to nature'
 
The coronavirus health crisis, by shutting down life in the capital and leaving Parisians without any of the perks of living in Paris, seems to have pushed many into making the final leap.
 
“We told ourselves, 'phew, good that we're leaving',” said Paul, a 41-year-old engineer who was moving out of the capital with his wife and two children in July. 
 
During the lockdown, the couple exchanged their 95 square metre apartment in the 19th arrondissement – one of the least expensive areas in Paris – for a 135 square metre house with four bedrooms and a 100 square metre garden in the centre of Fontainebleau, southeast of Paris. 
 
They bought the house for €620,000.
 
“We're leaving to get a better quality of life, to get closer to nature without being too far from the city,” Paul told Le Parisien.
 
 
 
Where are people looking to move?

Like Paul and his family, most Parisians are looking to move to areas outside the capital in the Île-de-France region. These areas are often well-connected with RER trains that make it possible to commute if needed.

Searches for housing in Sens, in the Yvonne département southeast of Paris, surged by 80 percent from April 2019 to April 2020, according to the real estate agency Seloger. 

In the towns of Evreux and Dreux, both west of the capital, demand has increased by 40 percent over the same period.

“We are seeing a real wish to be closer to nature, far from the stress of the city,” said Antoine Jouteau, Director of the sell-and-buy site Le Boncoin, told Le Parisien.

A house with a garden

Real estate agencies also note that most people want a house (59 percent), according to Seloger, and more and more are ticking of the box for an outdoor area.

“With remote working, people are spending a lot more time at home,” said Corinne Joly, director of the real estate website Pap.fr.

READ ALSO: Frequent mistakes made by French property buyers

Is this a good time to move?

According to real estate agencies, this is not a bad time for buyers to make the leap.

After two months of complete of being completely paralysed during the lockdown, the real estate market is regaining full speed.

But many owners who have been waiting for a long time to sell “have no choice,” said Thomas Lefebvre, Research Director at MeilleurAgents, to the paper.

“They have to sell today,” he said.

That means there is a lot on offer, and buyers have more power than sellers. 

Lefebvre also pointed to relatively good lending conditions. 

“Borrowing today at 1.2 percent over 20 years, even if it has gone up slightly, remains very good conditions,” he said.

 

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