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Paris landlords still charging illegally high rents

Many Paris landlords are charging far too much rent for their flats, according to a study published on Tuesday. Some Parisians are paying hundreds of euros too much for their pokey flats.

Paris landlords still charging illegally high rents
Photo: Panoramas/Flickr
Even though a rent-capping law was rolled out last year, Parisians still getting stung by greedy landlords – and often. 
 
New figures courtesy of the CLCV housing association, which looked at 800 online apartment ads, have revealed that many landlords and even agencies are still advertising their properties at illegally high rent prices.
 
The survey looked at adverts on eight of the most popular home renting websites: seloger.com, fnaim.fr, leboncoin.fr, pap.fr, nexity.fr, foncia.com, orpi.com and century21.fr.
 
The apartments were a split between furnished and unfurnished flats that were either offered privately or through an agency. 
 
And as it turns out, it's the landlords advertising independently that are most likely to be ripping you off. 
 
Indeed, while 25 percent of agency adverts have rent prices above maximum rental regulations, the figure rises to 51 percent for adverts placed by landlords independently.
 
The study noted that rents exceeding the maximum, on average, were too expensive by €115.39 a month. 
 
And if you're living in a smaller spot – especially a maid's room (a chambre de bonne in French), then you're the most likely to be taken for a ride. 
 
Some 46 percent of these smaller rooms are being rented for too much money, while only 12 percent of four-room flats are priced unfairly. 
 
“And it's mainly young people and students who are the tenants in these smaller places, a relatively fragile group economoically,” the CLCV noted in its report. 
 
As an example, it pointed to a 21m2 apartment in the 18th that was being offered for €1,040, noting that it shouldn't cost more than €665. That's a difference of €375 a month or €4,500 a year.
 
 
Are you paying too much to rent in France? Find outParis rooftops. Photo: Maree Turner/Flickr
 
Renters can take small comfort in the fact that the figures are improving when compared to last year.
 
In 2015, 70 percent of agencies were following renting rules and 47 percent of private landlords. 
 
“While the situation is slightly better than in 2015, it's still not satisfactory,” the CLCV noted. 
 
It requested sanctions against landlords not respecting the rules, and a wider rollout of the rental cap scheme to other areas affected by high rents. 

It also suggested that rental agencies should flat out refuse to list an apartment if the owner is looking for too much money. 
 
The rent-capping Loi Alur was rolled out last August 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”.
 

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MAP: Where in France can you buy property for less than €100k?

While French cities such as Paris are notoriously expensive, there are many areas outside the cities where it is still possible to buy spacious homes for less than €100,000 - particularly if you don't mind a bit of renovation.

MAP: Where in France can you buy property for less than €100k?

We decided to look at where in France you could afford a property on a budget of €100,000, and it turns out there are some bargains to be had.

There are a lot of caveats while searching for property, and many local variables in place, but our search does show some of the areas to concentrate on if you have a limited budget.

We used the Notaires de France immobilier website in August 2022, and we specified that the property should have at least five rooms (including kitchen and bathroom) and a floor space of at least 100 square metres.

We also discounted any property that was for sale under the viager system – a complicated purchase method which allows the resident to release equity on their property gradually, as the buyer puts down a lump sum in advance and then pays what is effectively a rent for the rest of the seller’s lifetime, while allowing them to remain in the property.

READ ALSO Viager: The French property system that can lead to a bargain

For a five-room, 100 square metre property at under €100,000, you won’t find anywhere in the Île-de-France region, where the proximity of Paris pushes up property prices. The city itself is famously expensive, but much of the greater Paris region is within commuting distance, which means pricier property. 

Equally the island of Corsica – where prices are pushed up by its popularity as a tourist destination – showed no properties for sale while the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur – which includes the French Riviera – showed only 1 property under €100,000.

The very presence of Bordeaux, meanwhile, takes the entire département of Gironde out of this equation – but that doesn’t mean that the southwest is completely out of the running. A total of 25 properties came up in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region. One property was on the market for a mere €20,000 – but it was, as the Notaires’ brochure noted, in need of “complete renovation”.

Neighbouring Occitanie, meanwhile, showed 12 further properties in the bracket.

By far the most properties on the day of our search – 67 – were to be found in the Grand Est region of eastern France. The eastern part of France overall comes out best for property bargains, with the north-east region of Hauts-de-France showing 38 properties and and Bourgogne-Franche-Comté displaying 25.

Further south, however, the presence of the Alps – another popular tourist destination – pushed up prices in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region which showed just three results.

The below map shows our search results, with darker colours indicating more cheap properties.

Property buying tips 

In order to make a comparison, we focused our search on properties advertised online, but if you have a specific area in mind it's well worth making friends with a few local real estate agents and perhaps also the mayor, since it's common for properties not to be advertised online.

Most of the truly 'bargain' properties are described as being "in need of renovation" - which is real estate speak for a complete wreck.

If you don't mind doing a bit of work you can often pick up property for low prices, but you need to do a clear-eyed assessment of exactly how much work you are willing and able to do, and what the cost is likely to be - there's no point getting a "cheap" house and then spending three times the purchase price on renovations.

READ ALSO 'Double your budget and make friends with the mayor' - tips for French property renovation

That said, there were plenty of properties at or near the €100,000 mark that were perfectly liveable or needed only relatively minor renovations.

You also need to pay attention to the location, as the sub-€100,000 properties are often in remote areas or very small villages with limited access to amenities. While this lifestyle suits many people, bear in mind that owning a car is a requirement and you may end up paying extra for certain services.

Finally remember that government help, in the form of loans and grants, is available for environmentally friendly improvements, such as insulation or glazing.

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