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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:
– 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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For members


Courtier: Should you hire a broker when buying property in France?

If you're researching the French property market, you might have come across mentions of 'courtiers' - here's what they do and whether they are necessary.

Courtier: Should you hire a broker when buying property in France?

The French ‘courtier‘ is usually translated as a broker, and the Notaires Association describes their role like this: “the broker is a true intermediary in banking operations. His/her role is to negotiate the best rates for you, but not only that: they will also find the most advantageous financing conditions for the realisation of your project.”

Essentially they act as an intermediary between you and the banks, so they’re only required if you need a mortgage or a loan in order to buy your French property. 

Their job is to research the best deals for you and then to help you put together your application and ensure that all your paperwork is correct – unlike the notaire, instructing a courtier is not a required part of the process, so the decision on whether to instruct one is up to you. 

So is it worth it?

Among French buyers, around 30 percent of mortgages are obtained using the services of a courtier, and this rises to 60 percent among young, first-time buyers, who generally find it harder to access credit.

Some of things to consider are your level of French and confidence in negotiating French bureaucracy, your financial situation (since French mortgage lenders tend to be stricter than those in the UK or US) and whether you currently live in France or not (since there are extra hoops to jump through for overseas buyers).

READ ALSO Is now a good time to buy a home in France?

“Things have changed,” Trevor Leggett, group president of Leggett International estate agents, told The Local. “It’s now more important than ever to work closely with a reputable broker.

“In France it is all paper-based, very old-school and extremely bureaucratic, a different world entirely to the UK. Preparing the client “dossier” so that it will be accepted is an art form.”

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

He advised non-resident international clients, particularly, who may not be au fait with the French system to seek the help of a broker who knows the ropes.

“The question is no longer really about savings,” he said. “It is about finding a bank that can actually lend to the client profile, interests rate are secondary. 

“It occasionally happens that one bank can be played off against another, or to shop around, but it’s a rare event nowadays.”

READ ALSO Revealed: The ‘hidden’ extra costs when buying property in France

And he had no hesitation in recommending that prospective buyers find a broker to sort out the financing.

“The lending market has tightened for international buyers and a good one is worth their weight in gold,” he said.

READ ALSO EXPLAINED: Time-frame for buying and selling property in France

In France, you make an offer on a property and then you begin the mortgage process (while in the UK it’s the other way round) so problems in getting your mortgage approved could lead to you losing your dream property.

“[Using a courtier] can be the difference between buying and not,” added Trevor.

“It’s not just any possible language barrier – but understanding the process and the different players in the market.”

How much?

The cost of hiring a courtier is borne by the buyer – but how much do they charge?

The courtier usually charges a percentage of the total mortgage amount – fees must be fixed in advance and are only payable once your mortgage application has been approved. 

Fees vary between different areas and different businesses, but the average fee is €2,000, which amounts to around one percent of the purchase price.

Many brokers set a minimum amount – around €1,500 – for smaller loans, and take a percentage of larger loans, so how much you pay depends on your property budget.