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7 tips for finding an apartment in Paris

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
7 tips for finding an apartment in Paris
Finding somewhere to rent is Paris can be difficult. Here are some tips to help you. (Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP)

Finding somewhere to rent in Paris can be difficult, and for foreigners in France there are extra challenges. Here are some of the problems you are likely to encounter and what you can do about them.

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In essence the problem in Paris is simple - there are more people who want apartments than there are apartments.

There's also the issue that legal rights in France are heavily weighted towards the tenant - this means that landlords are very careful who they rent to, and the Paris housing shortage means that they can afford to reject people.

Landlords often ask for the following:

  • For you to provide a guarantor - in many cases this be a French national, who is working (not retired) and who also meets the income requirements
  • For you to provide evidence that you have a job, ideally with a CDI (permanent) contract - people who are freelance or who are retired may struggle, even if they have plenty of money in the bank
  • For your salary to significantly outstrip the monthly rent obligations - usually you need to demonstrate that you earn at least three times your monthly rent. Savings are frequently not taken into account for this 
  • A French bank account - although annoyingly, many banks will only let you open an account if you have a fixed address in France 

It is often easier to secure a rental contract if you hold French or EU citizenship, and if you are from outside the EU you will definitely need to show proof of your residency permit or visa.

Having a good grasp of the French language is also likely to make landlords and letting agencies take you more seriously. 

Meeting all these conditions can be a tall order for foreigners, with new arrivals in France, freelance workers and retired people the most likely to struggle.

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Here are some tips to make the process easier:

Prepare your dossier 

This is absolutely crucial and you need to prepare this before you start looking, many landlords will not even let you visit the property without seeing your dossier first.

Gather as many of the following documents as you can: photocopy of your passport and visa/residency permit if applicable; evidence of your income (either your last three pay slips or proof of pension payments, proof of bank savings are often not accepted); an employment contract; your most recent tax filing (even if it is not French); and receipts of payments made to your previous landlord. 

There is now an online service where you can collect together your documents and prepare an electronic dossier for landlords, rather than needing huge files of paper - full details here.

Work with a relocation agency

This process will undoubtedly end up costing you extra money - but it is also the easiest way to find yourself somewhere to rent without banging your head against the brick wall of French administration. 

A number of agencies have been set up specifically to help English-speakers move to France, and have bilingual staff who can negotiate with landlords and help you get your dossier together.

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The cost of using such a service is dependent on how much help you need and which company you decide to work with. 

Use a paid guarantor service 

If you don't meet the financial requirements, you may need a guarantor (garant) and many landlords and agencies insist that this person is French, is in work and also meets the financial requirements of earning three times the rent money.

This can be a problem if you are just moving here and don't know many people, but you can use an online service to secure a garant instead.

Websites such as garantme.fr are recognised by landlords and can provide you with a certificate that can be used in the place of an actual guarantor. It is costly though. For a single tenant paying €800 in monthly rent, you could have to pay more than €300 per year to the service. 

Search on Facebook

There are plenty of Facebook groups including PARIS: Location appartement, Colocation, Sous-location chambre à louer, Paris : colocation, location, sous-location, appart and Paris Colocation by HousingAnywhere where you may be able to find somewhere to rent without having to fill all of the requirements generally asked for by landlords.

Be careful though, these groups are generally unregulated and can be rife with scammers. There is typically less paperwork to go through if you plan to move in to a co-location (flat-share) with other people. We have previously put together a guide on how to avoid Paris rental scams HERE

Consider a sub-let

If you have just moved to Paris, you could consider looking for a sub-let first. These generally require less paperwork and can give you time to set up a French bank account and amass the necessary file of French documents. It also makes apartment-hunting less stressful, knowing that you have a roof over you head in the meantime.

Look for an owner of your nationality 

Finding an owner of your own nationality can be an effective way of getting around the tough conditions imposed by French landlords.

"A North American owner is more likely to rent to someone of their own ilk. It's cultural," said Adrian Leeds of the Adrian Leeds Group. The best way to find an English-speaking landlord is simply by asking around. Some lettings and relocation agencies may be able to help you with this too. 

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Avoid traditional rental agencies

Finding somewhere to rent via a lettings agency does carry certain advantages - you are more likely to get your deposit back at the end of your rental period for example.

But unfortunately, most rental agencies work with French landlords who are pre-disposed to requiring the extensive documentation mentioned at the start of this piece. You may be better off looking for somewhere to rent via pap.fr - a platform which cuts out the middle man and allows you to deal with landlords directly.

If you can explain your situation to a landlord directly, they are more likely to accept you as a tenant. If you do not have a strong grasp of the language, it may be worth asking a French person to help you communicate with the landlord via the messaging service. 

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Comments (1)

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Anonymous 2022/02/04 18:18
Re the guarantor (garantme.fr), I have learned that there is a potential solution to that. One's bank can hold a caution bancaire, which is like an escrow account. The landlord can tap into these funds should the renter fail to pay.

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