Property For Members

French property: Tenants and owners' rights during building renovations

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
French property: Tenants and owners' rights during building renovations
Building work at a Paris apartment block. Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP

Wondering whether you can put a stop to noisy, inconvenient work being done in your French apartment building? Here is what you need to know.


If you're in a French city you'll often notice an apartment building swathed in scaffolding. City centre apartments are often housed in historic buildings, such as Paris' famous Haussmanian blocks which date from around the 1850s, and unsurprisingly they need maintenance and repairs from time to time.

Like all building work, this can be inconvenient and disruptive for residents, so what are your rights?

The situation differs depending on whether you own the apartment or are a tenant.


If you live in a coproprieté in France (a building that is split up into several different apartments that are individually owned), then any works done to the public or shared space of the building will need to involve a vote of co-owners.


Depending on the type of work being proposed, the co-owners in the building will either need a simple majority (most owners present vote yes) or an absolute majority (out of all owners, including those not present, the majority vote yes).

These are not the same as unanimité, which requires all owners, absent or present, to vote in favour of something. 

Only a simple majority is required for the most vital works - work that is necessary "for the conservation" of the building and the "preservation of health and physical safety for occupants, including any work related to the stability of the building, structure, roof, or infrastructure (ie plumbing, gas, electric)" or any work that "ensures that flats comply with health, safety and equipment standards".

Similarly, if the work is required by law or police order, as it relates to public health and safety, then co-owners must reach a simple majority. 

Less vital works require an absolute majority - for example installing charging ports for hybrid or electric vehicles, or deciding to have the building facade sand-blasted or cleaned.

Some tasks - like deciding whether to continue having a gardien - requires a double majority, or two-thirds vote.

French law specifies how these votes should be conducted - you can find the full list of voting rules for different procedures in shared apartment or condominium buildings in France.

Who pays?

Generally the costs are split between the owners of the apartment. The exact division is usually specified in the coproprieté document - for example if one apartment in the building is bigger than the others then that owner might pay towards the costs.

Some coproprietés have a general 'works fund' created from contributions from building charges over the years, which can absorb some of the costs.


If you are planning to purchase an apartment in a shared building, be sure to ask whether any works have been approved for the coming years. If the works have already been agreed than may be liable for your share of the costs, depending on the date of the agreed works, even if you weren't at the meeting when it was decided.

What if I am opposed to the work?

If you voted against the work, but your neighbours all agreed and a majority was reached then your options are limited.

If the issue is financial then you can request a deferment or for costs to be spread out over a period of 10 years.

This is only possible if you voted against the work and if you make the request within two months of receiving the minutes of the general meeting, according to attorney Cécile Nlend in an interview with TF1.

Another lawyer interviewed by TF1 explained that it is not possible to force a co-owner to take out a loan to pay for the project, but it is equally not legal for the co-owner to simply refuse to pay.

READ MORE: 'Les charges': Why owning and renting apartments in France is becoming more costly

What if the work is disturbing me?

It depends whether you are considered to be 'suffering a loss' due to the work being carried out. 

Lawyer Emmanuelle Rafalli, who works in the Paris area, wrote an article regarding recourse options for owners and tenants for the legal site Alexia - she noted that 'loss' is typically defined based on whether there has been a permanent reduction in the value of your property, damage to your property, or a serious disruption to your ability to enjoy it (even if temporary).


The latter might involve a loss of "sight and light" in your home, though this will need to be comparatively worse than your fellow co-owners. Simple inconveniences are to be expected with works projects, so they would not qualify. 

In these cases, it is possible to ask the copropriété to pay you a compensation for the loss. 

What about noise?

Noisy work can only be carried out at certain times, under a French government decree.

On weekdays, it can only take place from 9am to 12pm and 1.30pm to 7.30pm. On Saturdays, the hours are between 9am to 12pm and from 3pm to 7pm.

On Sundays and public holidays, works can only take place between 10am to 12pm.

While this means that you will at least get some respite in the evenings, it can be tricky for people who work from home.


If you are renting your home, then you don't get a vote at the copropriéte meeting, and it is your landlord who decides - even though you will be the one living with the noise and general disruption of building work.


The upside, of course, is that you won't be liable for any of the costs. 

If you want to do works inside your apartment then that is a matter for you and the landlord, but if you want to make any changes to shared shares - such as installing a bike locker - you will likely need the agreement of both the landlord and the copropriété.


So could you be liable for a reduction in the rent if you're suffering the inconvenience of building works?

The basic principle is that landlords are required to provide tenants with "decent housing" - this is defined by a law (found HERE) passed in 2002.

Essentially, a dwelling can be considered indecent if it presents obvious risks for the physical safety and health of the occupants.

In terms of rent reduction - this depends on your lease - if it is a commercial one, then you may be entitled to compensation if your business has been interrupted for several months.


If you have a residential lease and the construction has 'disturbed your use of your home', then you can approach your landlord to request a reduction or suspension of rent. If the landlord says no, then you have the option to launch legal option but it's far from certain that you would win and the disruption would need to be very severe.

Experts advise against withholding rent.

In terms of the legality surrounding works within your own apartment (ie not the public space), you should be informed of plans in advance via registered mail.

French law (under article 1724 of the Civil Code) allows landlords to carry out 'urgent' works (those that affect the health and decency of the property, like a leaking roof or window that no longer closes), according to Seloger.

Landlords are also allowed to carry out non-urgent works that are essential to maintaining the property in good condition, add value to the property, improve energy performance, or maintain the roof.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also