Renting For Members

Renting property in France: Should I go for furnished or unfurnished?

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 20 Sep, 2022 Updated Tue 20 Sep 2022 11:29 CEST
Renting property in France: Should I go for furnished or unfurnished?
(Photo: Mychele Daniau / AFP)

Not everyone who moves to France can afford, or necessarily wants to, buy a property straightaway - many thousands of people prefer to rent, at least at first.

Looking to move? Find your next rental apartment here.


In France, as elsewhere, it’s possible to rent a property that is either furnished or unfurnished - but after that it starts to get complicated.

The most important consideration for anyone looking to rent a property is whether they have furniture of their own. Those who do own their own sofa, bed, and tables are more likely to want to rent an unfurnished property.

But there are also key differences in tenancy agreements that people need to be aware of before they sign on the agreement. There are requirements for both the landlord and the tenant in each case.


What makes a property ‘furnished’?

First things first. For a property to be considered “furnished” it must come equipped with the following items as a minimum:

  • A bed and bedding, including a duvet or blanket;
  • Curtains or other means to block out outside light in the room used as a bedroom;
  • Cooking hob;
  • An oven or microwave oven;
  • A refrigerator with a compartment for storing food at -6°, or a freezer; 
  • Dishes for eating and cooking utensils;
  • A table and at least one seat;
  • Storage shelves;
  • Light fittings;
  • Equipment to maintain the accommodation.

Other items may also be included in the agreement. These items remain the property and liability of the landlord, meaning that if, for example, the hob breaks down, it is the landlord’s responsibility to fix or replace it at their expense.

This minimal furniture requirement must be maintained for a property to be considered furnished. Otherwise it drops into the “unfurnished” category.

Unfurnished properties have no such requirements. However, kitchens with a number of appliances as standard are commonplace, though it is not unheard of to find apartments with entirely empty kitchens (i.e. no fridge, oven, or microwave).

As long as the accommodation does not contain all the furniture on the compulsory list, your rental is considered empty.

Lease types - unfurnished property

This is France. Straightforward this is not. Let’s start with unfurnished properties.

The security deposit on an unfurnished property is one month’s rent, repayable at the end of the tenancy.

All unfurnished properties are rented on a standard three-year lease, which then automatically rolls on annually once the initial lease term ends. 


A tenant must give three months notice if they decide to move out. This can be cut to one month in exceptional circumstances, or in areas where pressure for property is high.

The landlord must give the tenant a notice period of six months if they intend to sell the house.

Lease types - furnished property

There are three different types of leases for furnished properties depending on the tenant - known as ‘classic’, ‘student’, and ‘mobility’.

Leases are signed, generally, for a minimum period of one year - or nine months in the case of student rentals.

The security deposit is two months rent, excluding any charges, and the minimum landlord notice period is three months. A tenant is obliged to give one month’s notice.


Certain contracted workers on temporary contracts may also rent a furnished property on what’s known as a bail mobilité (mobility lease) for periods of between one and 10 months at a time. 

No deposit is required for these short-term leases, and the landlord is not required to give a notice period once the lease ends - though the tenant has to give one month’s notice if they plan to move out before the lease ends.

What about cost?

Everything depends on location, location, location, naturally. But an unfurnished property will be cheaper to rent than a similar sized furnished property in the same area.

So which one’s best?

Again, that depends on what you’re looking for. If you own your own furniture and you expect to remain in the same place for a long term, unfurnished is the way to go. 

If you’re new to an area, and don’t have many things to call your own, or are on a short-term contract working away from home, a shorter term furnished property lease may well be the way to go. If you go this route, be sure to look carefully at the furniture to be sure that it is in decent enough condition and free from bedbugs or other pests.

In the big cities, like Paris, the apartment search can be intense. If you were looking to rent unfurnished, but the only options seem to be furnished, you could look into whether the apartment comes with a cave (basement storage area). In this case, you might be able to store your landlord's furniture in there. 

Keep in mind that if you rent a furnished apartment, your landlord's items will be judged based on the original état des lieux (inventory) at the end of your lease, and any damage could impact getting your full security deposit back.


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