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PROPERTY: What you need to know about 'copropriété' fees in France

The Local France
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PROPERTY: What you need to know about 'copropriété' fees in France
Paris apartment buildings. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)

If you buy or rent an apartment in France you'll likely need to pay "les charges de copropriété", or joint-ownership fees. Here's what you need to know about them and why you should always fact or them in to your budget.

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Whether you are renting or buying in France, if you plan to live in a shared apartment building - or condominium - you should always be aware of les charges de copropriété that come on top of your normal mortgage or rent and can be quite high.

In France, an immueble de copropriété is a type of building that is split up into several different apartments that are individually owned. It is also the name of the individuals who together make up the co-owners of that shared building.

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In a copropriété, common spaces are shared between the flat owners, and as a result those property owners are responsible for the upkeep fees related to the shared parts of the building, like costs for elevators or paying the salary of the gardien (building caretaker).

While copropriétés might be more common in cities and urban areas, if you are looking to purchase or rent a vacation home, perhaps an apartment in a beach town or a ski resort, you will likely find yourself having to consider the cost consider of les charges as well.

On average, the co-owner of a 60 m2 apartment paid €3,000 in charges (fees) per year (€250 a month), according to news site L'Obs.

What are the fees and why should I always ask about them?

The fees are the maintenance costs concerned with all communal areas in an apartment building. As you can imagine, these differ from one apartment building to another - based on the amenities provided.

In some buildings, for instance, there are communal heating systems. The fees would include the cost of the heating itself, but could also incorporate costs related to the repair and upkeep for the heating system. 

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

Older buildings with less amenities are also not immune to hefty fees - as they may include more involved servicing for the building. 

There are two primary categories for les charges - one is related to general administration and upkeep of the building and then special fees for extra services. When it comes to cost, the amount each property owner might pay will depend on the nature of the fees, and who they will most benefit in the building.

General fees concern administration (the costs associated with holding general meetings), maintenance (cleaning common areas, waste removal), and upkeep of the building (restoration of facades, roof repairs).

Special fees are related to collective services - meaning the hiring of a gardien, cleaning service or security system - as well as common equipment, like elevators, collective heating systems, pools, gyms or television antennas.

You should keep in mind that the fees are not technically part of your mortgage or rent. This means that you could find yourself considering purchasing or renting an apartment that seems to be affordable based solely on the mortgage or rent (yes - renters often have to pay a portion of the fees, we'll get to this below), but in reality you could owe up to several hundred euros more per month in copropriéte fees, based on the building's amenities and your apartment's "tantième".

How are my dues calculated?

Each co-owner in the building must pay a part of these fees - which is calculated as a tantième in French. 

The tantième assigned to the property owner corresponds to their share of the co-ownership of the building. Each property's tantième is decided during a general meeting of the copropriété by vote, and it can be subject to change in future votes by the copropriété.

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Most of the time, tantième are divided into one thousand equal shares across the whole building, so your tantième might be expressed as a value over the thousand shares for the whole building.

Typically, this is calculated by using the surface area of the apartment, including whether it has a balcony or terrace, as well as the location of the apartment (what floor it is on).

How can copropriété fees be increased?

The fees can be increased, but only after a general meeting (assemblée générale) and vote of the co-owners. 

Each year, co-owners approve the yearly budget at a general meeting, which is updated according to the expenses of the year previous.

Renters v Owners

Renters can also be required to pay les charges de copropriété. However, these only represent a specific amount of the total charges that the owner owes - they are referred to as the "rental" fees (les charges locatives or charges récupérables in French).

French law specifically outlines which things can be considered under rental fees, and that includes:

  • the operating and maintenance costs of the elevator
  • the collective water and/or heating bill
  • maintenance of common areas (cleaning and cost of cleaning products, for example)
  • maintenance of exterior spaces (upkeep of courtyard, garden and green spaces)
  • taxes and fees related to the use of the accommodation (household waste).

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Typically (for furnished rentals), the tenant will pay a flat-rate monthly payment. Under this system, the tenant agrees to pay the same monthly fee in addition to rent, but the landlord cannot raise the cost of the fees during the year. However, if the tenant ends up paying more than the yearly fees amounted to, then the landlord is not required to reimburse the extra payments. When the copropriété fees are fixed, it is generally provided in the lease that they are updated once a year in the same way rent is.

READ MORE: France to limit rent rises to help households with cost of living

The other option, which is more common for non-furnished rentals, is for the tenant to pay the real expenses incurred over their rental period. 

In this situation, the landlord must provide a yearly breakdown of fees to calculate the difference between what the tenant covered and the exact amount of fees paid. The landlord must keep documents related to this process for at least six months afterwards. 

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Comments (1)

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Michael Briant 2024/05/07 16:14
In my property there are 3 of us as co-proprietors and in and old co-proprietary document the %percentages were allocated. The other two owners refuse to form a new co-proprietorship! I am stuck with roof and common parts repairs. Is there any legal way to force the other two to form a new co-proprietorship? Michael

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