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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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SCHOOLS

‘Section internationales’: How do France’s bilingual secondary schools work?

For foreign parents in France looking at secondary school options for their children one option to consider is the bilingual 'international sections' in certain state schools. But how do they work?

'Section internationales': How do France's bilingual secondary schools work?

What is an ‘international section’

Essentially international sections in French secondary schools allow students to learn a modern foreign language, such as English or German in much more depth than a standard state secondary. These sections also facilitate the integration of foreign students into the French school system.

There are about 200 ‘International’ establishments (primary schools, colleges and high schools) around France offering international sections in 16 languages.

Most are state run, so for many foreign families they are a much cheaper alternative to private schools, though it should be noted that some of the international sections are fee-paying.

READ ALSO

Even state establishments can charge for enrolment into their international sections. Fees are usually in the region of €1,000 to €2,000 per year (although that’s still cheap compared to somewhere like the American school of Paris which charges between €20,000 and €35,000 a year)

American and British sections are particularly popular – and, as a result are usually the most expensive, while less-popular German sections are less costly. 

Why do they exist?

These sections are ideal for the children of immigrant families, as well as those where one parent is of foreign origin. Syllabuses are set up and developed by French educational authorities and those of the partner country.

In addition to lessons dedicated to modern languages, students benefit from lessons in another subject given in a foreign language. The international sections promote the discovery of the culture and civilisation of the countries associated with the section.

Top tips for raising a bilingual child in France

What languages are available?

According to the government website, 19 languages are available. But that’s not strictly accurate as it then lists American, British and Australian as separate ‘languages’, along with Portuguese and Brazilian. It’s more accurate to say these establishments offer education in 16 languages.

It’s more accurate to say that there are 19 “sections”, dedicated to learning with a linguistic and cultural education slant in favour of the following nations/languages:

American, Arabic, Australian, Brazilian, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, English, Franco-Moroccan, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Russian.

In total, there are two Australian schools, 20 American ones, over 50 British schools – most in Paris and the Ile-de-France (Versailles is very popular)

So, what’s studied – and what qualifications do you get?

As well as usual collège-level classes in core subjects, such as maths, history and the sciences, students have four hours of classes in the language, including literary studies, of their choice.

From troisième (age 14), an additional two hours of classes per week cover that country’s history and geography and moral and civic education – the latter is replaced by maths for those studying in Chinese sections.

They can obtain the diplôme national du brevet with the mention “série collège, option internationale”. The dedicated brevet includes two specific tests: history-geography and foreign language.

At lycée, students study four hours of foreign literature per week, as well as two hours of history-geography in the language of the section (maths for the Chinese section) as well as two hours of French as they study towards an OIB (option internationale du bac), often at the same time as a standard French bac.

How to enrol

The first step is to contact the collège you wish your child to attend. This should take place no later than January before the September rentree you want your child to go to the collège.

If you live in France, and your child is attending an école primaire or élémentaire, you should do this in the January of the year they would move up to collège.

Be aware, that some schools require potential students to pass a language test – written and oral – before they can enter an international section. A child wishing to enter sixth grade must be able to read books of the level of Harry Potter in English, to enter the international school of Sèvres’ British section, while another has said that only 20 percent of candidates achieve the grade that would allow them entry into an international section.

Find a school

You will find sections internationales de collège at educational academies across the country. For a full list, with contact details, click here.

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