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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.

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EDUCATION

Fees to class sizes – what you need to know about private schools in France

In many countries, private schools are the preserve of the wealthy elite, but France has a wide network of private schools that are well within the financial reach of ordinary families - James Harrington explains more.

Fees to class sizes - what you need to know about private schools in France

The education system in France has its problems – at the start of the new school year some 4,000 teaching posts were unfilled and the government has launched an ‘emergency plan’ for English language lessons – but there’s no doubting there are wonderful schools and wonderful teachers making every effort to ensure children from aged three to 18 get the education they deserve.

However the country also has a sizeable network of private schools and around 15 percent of French children go to a private school. While some are undoubtedly expensive and elite, others are surprisingly affordable and provide an extra option for parents when deciding on  a school for their children.

Here’s what you need to know; 

Different types

There are two types of private school – sous contrat and hors contrat.

Sous contrat schools, of which there are about 7,500 in France, are part-funded by the state – teachers are paid by the Department of Education, for example – but also charge fees. France’s numerous Catholic schools, or regional language schools are usually sous contrat.

Hors contrat schools – which number about 2,500 – must still meet general education requirements but can choose their teaching methods and have no state funding. Private international schools found in most big cities, such as the American School of Paris, are hors contrat, but still follow mainstream teaching methods.

For comparison, there are around 60,000 state schools in France.

Prices

Yes, there are expensive private schools in France. Sending your child to the exclusive Ecole des Roches Private Boarding School, for example, will set you back more than €12,000 a term – not quite Eton or Winchester-level fees, but still well out of the reach of a large portion of the population. But, like Eton and Winchester, they’re not the norm. 

On average, fees for a day pupil – one who goes home at the end of the school day, rather than one who boards at the school – are in the region of around €2,250 a year. Meals are not included, and are generally charged at a slightly higher daily price than at state schools.

Financial aid, including scholarships, may be available for less well-off families.

READ ALSO French school canteens to cut cheese course as inflation bites

Boarding and hours

A large number of state and private schools offer Monday-Thursday boarding. It is not uncommon for pupils who excel at certain subjects or sports to attend collèges or lycées some distance from home, and board during the week.

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Daily school hours, meanwhile, are broadly similar, with children generally starting their school day at around 8am and finishing soon after 4pm on school days. Collège and lycée pupils also go into school on Wednesday mornings, and some may have classes on a Saturday, too.

Popularity

Smaller class sizes and a reputation for “better” results means that private schools are increasingly popular. The number of French private schools has increased steadily over the last decade, and now 15-20 percent of pupils go to a private establishment of some form. 

On the whole, private schools tend to do better in results league tables – perhaps in part because of the additional investment from parents, but also because class sizes tend to be smaller, which allows for more one-to-one education. Smaller class sizes and more individual attention mean they may also be a better option for children who struggle in big schools.

READ ALSO What kind of school in France is best for my kids?

Qualifications

State schools and sous contrat schools teach to the national curriculum, which leads, in turn, to brevet and baccalaureate qualifications.

In contrast, some hors contrat private schools offer different qualifications, including American High School Diplomas and SATs, British GCSEs and A-Levels, or the international baccalaureate.

Religion

Although many sous contrat schools are Catholic, most readily accept non-Catholic children and are not allowed to indoctrinate the Catholic faith. Hors contrat schools, on the other hand, may include a religious element to their teaching.

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