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PROPERTY

Why are Paris landlords so difficult and what can you do about it?

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.

A rental agency in the French capital
Finding somewhere to rent is Paris can be difficult. Here are some tips to help you. (Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP)

In essence the problem in Paris is simple – there are more people who want an 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.

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.

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 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. 

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 that 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. 

Member comments

  1. 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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PROPERTY

Plumbing Emergencies in France: Who to call and what to say

Plumbing ermergencies are common in France, so here's our guide to what to do, who to call and the phrases you will need if water starts gushing in unexpected areas.

Plumbing Emergencies in France: Who to call and what to say

How do I find a reliable plumber and avoid getting scammed?

First, try to stick with word-of-mouth if you can. Contact trusted individuals or resources, like your neighbours and friends, or foreigner-oriented Facebook groups for your area (ex. “American Expats in Paris”). This will help you find a more reliable plumber. If this is not an option for you, try “Pages Jaunes” (France’s ‘Yellow Pages’) to see reviews and plumbers (plomberie) in your area. 

Next, educate yourself on standard rates. If the situation is not an emergency, try to compare multiple plumbers to make sure the prices are in the correct range. 

Finally, always Google the name of the plumber you’ll be working with – this will help inform you as to whether anyone else has had a particularly positive (or negative) experience with them – and check that the company has a SIRET number.

This number should be on the work estimate (devis). You can also check them out online at societe.com. If you want to be extra careful you can also ask to see their carte artisan BTP (craftsman card). 

READ MORE: What is a SIRET number and why is it crucial when hiring French tradesmen?

Who is responsible for paying for work?

If you own the property, you are typically the one who is responsible for financing the plumbing expenses.

However if you’re in a shared building, you must determine the cause and location of the leak. If you cannot find the origin of the leak, you may need a plumber to come and locate it and provide you with an estimate. You can use this estimate when communicating with insurance, should the necessity arise. 

If you are a renter, the situation is a bit more complicated. Most of the time, water damage should be the landlord’s responsibility, but there are exceptions.

The landlord is obliged to carry out major repairs (ex. Natural disaster, serious plumbing issues) that are necessary for the maintenance and normal upkeep of the rented premises (as per, Article 6C of the law of July 6, 1989). The tenant, however, is expected to carry out routine maintenance, and minor repairs are also to be paid by the tenant. If the problem is the result of the tenant failing to maintain the property, then it will be the tenant’s responsibility to cover the cost of the repair.

Legally speaking, it is also the tenant’s responsibility to get the boiler serviced once a year, as well as to maintain the faucets and joints, and to avoid clogging the pipes.

READ MORE: Assurance habitation: How to get home insurance in France

If you end up in dispute with your landlord over costs, you can always reach out to ADIL, the national Housing Association which offers free legal advice for housing issues in France. 

What happens if the leak is coming from my neighbour’s property?

Both you and your neighbour should contact your respective housing insurance companies and file the ‘sinistre’ (damage) with them.

If you both agree on the facts you can file an amiable (in a friendly fashion), then matters are much more simple and you will not have to go through the back-and-forth of determining fault.

If having a friendly process is not possible, be sure to get an expert to assert where the leak is coming from and file this with your insurance company.

As always, keep evidence (lists and photographs) of the damage. Keep in mind that many insurance providers have a limited number of days after the start of the damage that you can file. Better to do it sooner than later, partially because, as with most administrative processes in France, it might take a bit of time.

Vocab

Plumbing has its own technical vocabulary so here are some words and phrases that you’re likely to need;

Hello, I have a leak in my home. I would like to request that a plumber come to give me an estimate of the damage and cost for repairs – Bonjour, j’ai une fuite chez moi. Je voudrais demander qu’un plombier vienne me donner une estimation des dégâts et du coût de la réparation. 

It is an emergency: C’est une urgence

I have no hot water: Je n’ai pas d’eau chaude

The boiler has stopped working: La chaudière ne fonctionne plus.

I cannot turn my tap off: Je ne peux pas arrêter le robinet.

The toilet is leaking: Mes toilettes fuient.

The toilet won’t flush/ is clogged: Mes toilettes sont bouchées

There is a bad smell coming from my septic tank: Il y a un mauvaise odeur provenant de ma fosse septique

I would like to get my electricity / boiler safety checked: Je souhaiterais une vérification de la sécurité de mon installation électrique / de ma chaudière

I can smell gas: Ca sent le gaz

My washing machine has broken: Ma machine a laver est cassée

Can you come immediately? Est-ce que vous pouvez venir tout de suite?

When can you come? Quand est-ce que vous pouvez venir?

How long will it take? Combien de temps cela prendra-t-il ?

How much do you charge? Quels sont vos prix? / Comment cela va-t-il coûter?

How can I pay you? Comment je peux vous payer ? 

Here are the key French vocabulary words for all things plumbing-related:

Dishwasher – Lave vaisselle

Bath – Baignoire

Shower – Douche

Kitchen Sink – Évier

Cupboard – Placard

Water meter – Compteur d’eau

The Septic Tank – La fosse septique

A leak – Une fuite

Bathroom sink – Le lavabo

The toilet – La toilette

Clogged – Bouché

To overflow – Déborder

A bad smell – Une mauvaise odeur

The flexible rotating tool used to unclog a pipe (and also the word for ferret in French) – Furet 

Water damage – Dégât des eaux

The damage – Le sinistre

And finally, do you know the French phrase Sourire du plombier? No, it’s not a cheerful plumber, it’s the phrase used in French for when a man bends down and his trouser waistband falls down, revealing either his underwear or the top of his buttocks. In Ebglish it’s builder’s bum, in French ‘plumber’s smile’.

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