SHARE
COPY LINK

PROPERTY

How France is making renting property (a bit) easier

Finding somewhere to rent in France can be difficult for foreigners who are unfamiliar with the French system, which requires all future tenants to compile an intricate list of documents - a dossier. 

How France is making renting property (a bit) easier
Finding a place to rent in France isn't always easy. Photo: Thomas SAMSON / AFP

To simplify the process, the French government has created an online platform where prospective tenants can upload their dossiers for landlords or agencies to access.

What is a dossier?

A dossier consists of several documents, from tax returns to proof of residence, that future tenants must have at hand to show the landlord or agency.

You need to have this prepared before you begin your property hunt, as some landlords or agencies – particularly in Paris – will not even allow you to view a place until they have seen your complete folder of documents.

For students and new arrivals in France this is particularly difficult as they will not have many of the documents required and will often require a financial guarantor – who many agencies insist is French.

READ ALSO: Nine things to expect when renting an apartment in France

How will the new system work?

Called dossier facile, which translates as ‘easy folder’ or ‘easy file’, the new online system provides landlords and agencies with direct access to the dossiers of those interested in a place.

While tenants still need to collect the same documents as in a traditional dossier, they won’t have to print out dozens and dozens of examples to bring to viewings, and there is a standardised set of necessary documents. 

Tenants

To create a dossier, go to dossierfacile.fr (link HERE) and start filling out the information.

All you need to sign up is an email address, there is no requirement of being a resident in France in order to use the service.

Prospective tenants will be asked for:

  • Proof of ID (eg passport)
  • Tax returns. However you may select that you are still attached to your parents’ tax returns or that you have been in France for less than a year.
  • Justificatif de domicile. That’s ‘proof’ of your current residence, which can be utility bills. If you don’t have bills in your name, you can upload an attestation sur l’honeur (the French document when you “declare on your honour”) that you are living with your parents or being housed for free. 
  • Justificatif de situation professionnelle. Proof of current work situation. What exactly this is depends on whether you’re employed, a student, on a short term contract etc, the system describes it for you.
  • Justificatif de ressources. Proof of income. This is for landlords to see that your stated amount of resources is documented. Many landlords set a minimum percentage eg that the rent is no more than one third of your total monthly income

If you have a financial guarantor, you will be able to upload their information to the platform too. Guarantors are generally required to provide the same list of documentation.

All these documents will be verified before the dossier is validated.

Landlords

Landlords can use the dossier facile to organise viewings and check the dossiers of those interested in renting the property.

READ ALSO: Five things to know about renting out your holiday home in France

Seeing as the platform verifies the documents uploaded by prospective tenants, it will be easier to avoid fraud.

For more information about the new system, go to the government’s website HERE.

In good news, once you have secured a place to live, you have lots of rights as a tenant – Renting in France – Know your rights

French vocab

Le dossier – the collection of paperwork you need to show landlords

Une pièce – room. This is not the same as a bedroom (une chambre) so an apartment of une pièce is a one-room studio apartment, not a one-bedroom apartment

Une cuisine séparée/cuisine ouverte – kitchen in a separate room or an open plan living/kitchen area (in some cheaper apartments this basically means a sink and hotplate stuck in the corner of the living room)

Mètres carrés – metres squared. Since we’re metric all apartments are measured in square metres and in Paris in particular it’s not unusual for someone to ask you combien de mètres carrés? if you mentioned your apartment. They’re basically asking you how big it is.

Ascenseur – elevator/lift. Is this isn’t mentioned in the advert, assume the building doesn’t have one

Climatisation – air conditioning (dream on)

Charge – the building charge. This can vary from €50 a year to several hundred, so you will need to factor it in to your financial calculations

À louer – to rent. If it’s for sale the sign will say à vendre

Meublé/non meublé – furnished/unfurnished. Unfurnished apartments are the most common, particularly non studios. 

Propriétaire – landlord or owner

Locataire – tenant. If you are in a shared apartments your flatmates/roomates are your colocataires or colocs.

Member comments

  1. I don’t think I would be comfortable giving all that information to a stranger before I’d at least met them in person or had some kind of guarantee that they were genuine. The potential for identity theft and fraud is mind boggling.

    1. It seems to me that you send a link once your dossier is validated, so you don’t have to send it before you’re confident about the person who you’re sharing your information with.

  2. Yes I realised that when I took a look at the site. Problem is that many private landlords are asking for these documents before they’ll consider even a viewing. Demand is such where I live that they feel emboldened to ask what they like.

  3. Dedact the personal data for personal identity (numbers to accounts etc) then state all data will be transparent once the offer is firm.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

FRENCH BUREAUCRACY

Everything you need to know about your vital French ‘dossier’

It's a crucial part of life and an incomplete one can bring about a whole world of pain - here's what you need to know about your French dossier.

Everything you need to know about your vital French 'dossier'

The French word un dossier simply means a file – either in the physical sense of a plastic or cardboard item that holds documents together or the sense of a collection of documents. You might also hear civil servants use dossier to refer to the responsibilities they hold, as in English we might say their ‘brief’. 

But by far the most important use of dossier, particularly to foreigners in France, is its use to indicate the collection of documents that you must put together in order to complete vital administrative tasks, from registering in the health system to finding somewhere to live.

When you begin a new administrative process, you will need to put together a collection of documents in order to make your application. Exactly what you need varies depending on the process, but almost all dossiers will include;

  • Proof of ID – passport, birth certificate or residency card. If a birth certificate is required check carefully exactly what type of certificate is being asked for (and don’t freak out if they’re asking for a birth certificate no more than three months old, it doesn’t mean you have to be born again).

Birth certificate: Why you need it in France and how to request one

  • Proof of address – utility bills are usually the best, if you’re on paperless billing you can log into your online account with your power supplier and download an Attetstation de contrat which has your name and address on it and also acts as proof of address
  • Proof of financial means – depending on the process you might have to show proof of your income/financial means. This can include things like your last three months payslips or your most recent tax return. If you’re house-hunting you might be asked for your last three quittances de loyer – these are rent receipts and prove that you have been paying your rent on time. Landlords are legally obliged to provide these if you ask, but if you can’t find them or it’s a problem you can also ask your landlord to provide an attestatation de bon paiment – a certificate stating that you pay what you owe on time.

Paper v online

The traditional dossier is a bulging file full of papers, but increasingly administrative processes are moving online, so you may be able to simply upload the required documents instead of printing them all out. 

If you have to send physical copies of documents by mail, make sure you send them by lettre recommandée (registered mail), not only does it keep your precious documents safe, but some offices will only accept documents that arrive this way. 

If you’re able to send your dossier online, pay careful attention to the format specified for documents – usually documents like rental contracts or work contracts will be in Pdf format while for documents like a passport or residency card a jpeg (such as a photo taken on your phone) will suffice. If you’re sending photos of ID cards, residency cards or similar make sure you upload photos of both sides of the card.

If you need scanned documents there is no need to buy an expensive scanner – there are now numerous free phone apps that will do the job and allow you to photograph the documents with your phone’s camera and convert them to Pdf files.

Some French government sites are a little clunky and won’t accept large files – if you get an error message telling you that the file you are uploading is too big, you can resize it using a free online photo resizing tool. 

Payment

If the process requires payment (eg changing address on certain types of residency card or applying for citizenship) you may be asked for a timbre fiscale – find out how they work here

House-hunting

If you are looking for a property to rent you will need to compile a dossier and if you’re in one of the big cities – especially Paris – landlords or agencies usually won’t even grant you a viewing without seeing your dossier first, so it’s always best to compile this before you start scanning property adverts.

The government has put together a tool called Dossier Facile which allows you to upload all your house-hunting documents to a single site, have them checked and verified and then gives you a link to give to landlords and agencies, which makes the process a little simpler.

Find a full explanation of how it works here.

Attestations

For foreigners, especially new arrivals, it’s often a problem getting together all the documents required. It’s worth knowing that if you don’t have everything you need, you can sometimes substitute documents for an attestation sur l’honneur, which is a sworn statement. 

How to write a French attestation sur l’honneur

This is a legally valid document, with penalties for submitting a false one, and needs to be in French and written in a certain format – the French government website provides a template for the attestation.

Vocab

Déposer un dossier – submit your file

Pièce d’identitie – proof of ID eg passport, residency card

Acte de naissance – birth certificate. 

Copie intégral – a copy of the document such as a photocopy or scan

Extrait – a new version of the document, reissued by the issuing authority

Sans/ avec filiation – for birth certificates it might be specified that you need one avec filiation, which means it includes your parents’ details. Some countries issue as standard short-form birth certificates that don’t include this, so you will need to request a longer version of the certificate

Justificatif de domicile – proof of address eg recent utility bills. If you don’t have any bills in your name you can ask the person who either owns the property or pays the rent to write an attestation de domicile stating that you live there

Justificatif de situation professionnelle – proof of your work status eg a work contract – either a CDI (permenant contract) or CDD (short-term contract)

Justificatif de ressources – proof of financial means, such as your last three months payslips (employers are legally obliged to provide these), other proof of income or proof of pension payments or evidence of savings.

Avis d’imposition – tax return. Some processes ask for this separately, for others it can be used as proof of resources – this is not a copy of the declaration that you make, but the receipt you get back from the tax office laying out your income and any payments that are required. If you declare your taxes online in France, you can download a copy of this document from the tax website. 

Quittance de loyer – rent receipts

Attestation de bon paiment – a document from your landlord stating that you pay your rent on time

Un garant – for some processes, particularly house-hunting, you might need a financial guarantor. This can be tricky for foreigners since it has to be someone you know reasonably well, but that person must also be living (and sometimes working) in France, and they will also need to provide all the above documents. If you’re struggling to find an acceptable guarantor, there are online services that will provide a guarantor (for a fee).

En cours de traitement – this means that your dossier has been received and is in the process of being evaluated. Depending on the process this stage can take anywhere between hours, months or even years (in the case of citizenship applications).

RDV – the shortened version of rendez-vous, this is an appointment. Certain processes require you to first submit your dossier and then attend an in-person appointment.

Votre dossier est incomplet – bad news, you are missing one or more crucial documents and your application will not proceed any further until you have remedied this.

Votre dossier est validé – your dossier has been approved. Time to pop the Champagne!

SHOW COMMENTS