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Renting in Paris: Ten things you need to know about apartment hunting

Let's face it, finding a flat to rent in Paris can be a nightmare. Real estate agency Lodgis shares ten things you really need to know about apartment hunting in the French capital.

Renting in Paris: Ten things you need to know about apartment hunting
Photo: Joseph Plotz/WikiCommons
1. Get a three-month headstart (at least)
 
Competition is fierce when it comes to renting an apartment in Paris, so get planning early. 
 
For the short-term stays we recommend that you book your apartment at least three months before, or six months for the long-term stays.
 
If you do it too late, you might miss an opportunity – not to mention that some owners might think that you're going to change your mind seeing as you'd be operating at the last minute. 
 
Photo: AFP
 
2. Learn the prices per square metre across Paris
 
The price for your surface area changes in different parts of the city, and this is good to know when you're figuring out your budget. 
 
The price per sqm is highest in the 1st arrondissement of Paris (at €30.70 per sqm), for example, while it's lowest in the 19th arrondissement at €22.80. 
 
Most people think that they need to break the bank to live in a big Paris apartment, but this is totally wrong if you're prepared to live in a cheaper area. 
 
 
 
3. Don't forget the charges
 
Some affordable-sounding flats in Paris come with very high charges, so never neglect that part. 
 
Ask about if there are charges for things like the water, the elevator, the cleaning services of the building, or even the garden maintenance.
 
Photo: Ana Paula Hirama/WikiCommons
 
4. Have you considered transport?
 
Public transport in Paris is way cheaper than having a car (but if you do drive, skip ahead to the next point). 
 
With this in mind, you're going to be taking public transport – so find out if your potential home has good connections. 
 
Download the RATP app and plug in the address, find out how well it connects to your office (and indeed anywhere else that you go). 
 
And it's not just buses and Metro stations, check in with the Velib' bike stops. 
 
The Velib' bike rental service is going through a period of upheaval at the moment but the City is hopeful of getting it back up and running soon. 
 
In the meantime, if your preferred way of travelling around Paris is cycling, make sure you check whether there is somewhere to store your bike in a potential apartment or whether there is somewhere to leave your bike securely on the street. 
 
Photo: AFP
 
5. Does it come with a car park?
 
For those who have a car, make sure that you ask if the apartment you want to rent includes a parking spot. This is a fact that surprises a lot of foreigners but, in Paris, most apartments don't offer parking, in which case you have to rent a parking spot near your apartment (which can prove to be costly indeed). 
 
Photo: Benh LIEU SONG/WikiCommons
 
6. Be prepared with your “dossier”
 
This is a crucial tip. Everyone knows France is famous for loving paperwork and administrative procedures, and renting a home is no exception.
 
It's all about security, and in this case the paperwork is to reassure the owner that they're not renting their apartment to a total stranger. 
 
The documents won't be the same for a long-term and a short-term rental, but here is a guide. 
 
The documents you will likely need are:
 
Everyone
 
– Passport
– Insurance certificate
– Your bank details
 
Long-term professional:
 
– Your last three payslips and your employment contract 
– Mission order
 
Long-term student:
 
– Education enrollment certificate
– Guarantors' three last payslips or employee certification
 
 
7. Do you need a guarantor?
 
If you're a student you will most likely need to prove that you can afford the apartment, and this means getting a guarantor – or essentially someone who will promise to stump up the money if you can't.
 
Some owners accept international guarantors, but others don't – and you'll have to tackle this on a case by case basis. 
 
Obviously if you already have a job in Paris with the three payslips and the work contract then you don't need a guarantor. 
 
Photo: Max Pixel
 
8. Be prepared for the deposit(s)
 
There are two types of these – the apartment deposit (acompte) and the security deposit.
 
The first, the acompte, is paid by the tenant after signing the lease in order to officially book the apartment. It should be paid with the first rental payment.
 
– No acompte is needed for rentals of under three weeks
– You need 30 percent of your rent if you're staying between three weeks and three months
– One month of rent if you're staying longer than three months
 
The security deposit is not always necessary and depends on the owner. The amount is calculated according to the duration of your stay:
– From 21 to 60 days: 50 perent of one month's rent
– From 2 to 6 months: 1 month rent
– More than 6 months: 2 months rent.
 
You will get your security deposit back 10 days after your departure.
 
However, if there are damages identified in the apartment, the repairing costs will be deducted from the security deposit and you will get the remaining amount 60 days after your departure. This is why we recommend that you read your contract very carefully and don't hesitate to ask questions to the owner or the agency in charge of your dossier. 
 
9. Do I need to pay the council tax?
 
The Council Tax (in French “taxe d'habitation”), is a local property tax implemented by the area in which your property is located. It can be paid by the owner or by the tenant depending on certain conditions.
 
If you are occupying the apartment on January 1st as “main residence” for more than 8 consecutive months, the tenant will have to pay the council-tax whether he is a professional or a student. 
 
The amount of the council tax depends on the arrondissement you live in, your financial profile, the rent you pay and the property management costs.
 
Photo: Max Pixel
 
10. Do I need an insurance?
 
No matter what type of apartment you are leasing, whether it's short or long-term you will need to take out an insurance policy in order to cover potential risks (water damage, fire, robbery). 
 
The subscription to the insurance is very simple and can be done on the internet for example on the French Furnished Insurance website.
 
It's called an “assurance d'habitation” in French and it can be provided by the bank or even from your country. But remember, if there is a problem the French law has the priority, which is the reason why we always recommend the insurance to be french.
 
This article was put together by the team at Lodgis, which advertises properties to rent and for sale across Paris.
 
Find their English site here and their blog here, which contains loads of useful information about living in Paris. 
 

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PROPERTY

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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