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Renting furnished accommodation in France: What should your landlord provide?

Renting a furnished place in France can be a good, low-stress option, but it's important to make sure you get what you're paying for. From a quilt to a vacuum cleaner, here is what your landlord must provide.

Renting furnished accommodation in France: What should your landlord provide?
Furnished rental properties in France must include a table and chairs. Photo: Ludovic MARIN / AFP.

Furnished rentals are less common in France than many other countries and generally cover the cheaper end of the market – studios, one-bedroom apartments and house-shares.

If you are a landlord, whether your property is furnished or not makes a difference to the type of rentals you are allowed to offer.

So, what is a furnished property, anyway?

Furniture and equipment

When you rent furnished accommodation in France, you will of course expect, well, furniture. But while some properties you visit will have everything you could ever dream of needing, all ready for you to move in, others will leave you counting the costs of everything you’ll have to buy.

READ ALSO A beginner’s guide to renting property in France

Fortunately, a 2015 government decree defines the things a landlord must provide in order for a property to be considered furnished. These are:

  • Bedding, including a quilt or bed cover
  • Shutters or curtains in the bedrooms
  • Hotplates, an oven or microwave, a refrigerator, freezer or a freezer compartment in the refrigerator which has a maximum temperature of 6C, a sufficient number of dishes for residents to be able to eat, and kitchen utensils. It’s common for kitchens in France (even for furnished apartments, especially in large cities) to be rented without an oven, but if there is not at least a microwave oven then the property cannot be considered furnished
  • A table and seating
  • Shelves and storage space
  • Lights
  • Cleaning equipment – this will depend on the type of housing in question. Landlords must provide a vacuum cleaner for carpeted rooms, or a broom and mop if the accommodation is tiled

If these elements are not provided, a judge has the right to amend a tenant’s lease to specify that the property is unfurnished.

Basic requirements

Beyond the furniture, the property itself must also meet a certain number of minimum requirements.

It should have at least one main room with a minimum livable surface area of 9 square metres and a ceiling height of at least 2.2 metres, or alternatively a total livable space of 20 cubic metres.

The accommodation should not present a risk to the tenant’s health or security. That means doors and windows must be watertight, and any windows’ guardrails should be in good condition. Electricity and gas should be up to modern safety standards, and the main rooms must have sufficient natural light and ventilation.

Landlords must also ensure that there are no pests such as rats, bedbugs or cockroaches.

The property must achieve a minimum level of energy performance, and doors and windows must not let in too much outside air.

The accommodation must also be fitted with the following: a supply of drinking water, heating, wastewater drainage, a kitchen or kitchen area, toilets which are separated from the kitchen, and an electrical system allowing for sufficient lighting of all rooms and the use of household appliances which are necessary for daily life.

For tenants in both furnished and unfurnished properties, the landlord is required to keep the property in a ‘habitable condition’, which means that major or urgent repairs are the responsibility of the landlord. More minor problems re generally the responsibility of the tenant, although it’s best to check your contract for full details. 

Contracts and rental

Tenants of both furnished and unfurnished properties have rights over their rental agreements, while landlords are limited on how much their can hike the rent.

Generally, leases for furnished properties in France run for one year (although they can be extended) and for unfurnished properties three years if the owner is an individual and six years if it’s a real estate company, developer or other professional body. There are also some nine-month lease contracts available for students in France.

The initial time period of the lease agreement will determine the length of the renewal. 

If the initial lease has a rent review clause, the landlord could increase your rent, but the hike can’t exceed the amount set by France’s benchmark rent index (IRL) as published in France’s national statistics body INSEE every year.

To find out if your landlord is trying it on, use the following formula to calculate what the rent hike should be:

(Current rent [including fixed charges] x new IRL effective on the date of increase) / IRL on the date the lease was signed or the previous increase date = indexed rent

Paris and Lille have also implemented their own rent control measures, with more cities set to follow suit.

And even if you stop paying rent altogether, your landlord cannot evict you in the winter, thanks to the trève hivernale.

For more information about your rights as a tenant in France, click HERE.

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PROPERTY

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. 

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